MSc Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Reconstruction

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Environmental Monitoring Modelling and Reconstruction Field Course

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG70641
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit provides an introduction to environmental fieldwork for students on the MSc EMMR programme through a residential field trip. In 2023/24, the field trip will take place in Northumberland National Park, UK where students will experience a range of landscapes and environments*.

Students will gain hands-on experience with sampling approaches and equipment to gather data from the field in a range of environments to better understand fundamental geographical processes. The field course will introduce students to research methods, which will link to other core modules (e.g., GEOG70581 Environmental Monitoring and Modelling Concepts) and will feed in later modules (e.g., GEOG60662 Dissertation Support).

* Note, the specific locations within the field trip will be subject to change depending on weather, access restrictions, or other limitations, but we will keep students updated should anything need to change



The unit aims to:
●    Give you practical experience of important geographical and environmental field-based skills
●    Provide you with an introduction to the research design process
●    Meet and work with other students from the MSc EMMR programme outside the Manchester lecture room setting 

Teaching and learning methods

The module will be primarily delivered through a 5-day residential field course in the UK where students will have ‘hands-on’ experience of field skills and data collection in a range of environments (indicative locations include: upland moorland and peatlands; forest and woodlands; coastal dunes; grasslands). Field teaching will include full days outside with opportunity for class and small group activities supported by the teaching team who have expertise in these landscapes. In addition we will have some evening sessions as a group to debrief from the field day and consolidate learning, as well as introducing students to further concepts and content relevant to the module and field location.

Prior to the trip there will be two Manchester-based classroom induction sessions that will cover: module aim and ILOs; assessment; field trip itinerary and practicalities.

Following the field trip, students will be able to access staff via scheduled office hours for any post-trip support for their assessments, which are both submitted in the weeks following the trip. 

The module will be supported by dedicated Blackboard pages, including assessment guidance, field trip handbook, and other supporting resources.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Recognise the key environmental issues in the field trip location
  • Discuss on the role of fieldwork in generating data and ideas to understand environmental processes and/or address key environmental issues.

Intellectual skills

  • Identify how fieldwork relates to their MSc degree and consider the potential field based methods that might be relevant for future research projects (i.e., MSc dissertation).
  • Describe and explain the key features of a dataset in relation to an environmental issue.

Practical skills

  • Take basic field observations and record these in an appropriate fashion (e.g., notebooks)
  • Recognise a range of field skills and techniques and be familiar with the associated equipment.
  • Demonstrate data-visualisation skills through the production of effective figures to be included in written reports.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Work with others to conduct fieldwork
  • Develop a clear and convincing written argument

Assessment methods

Assessment 1: Data visualisation task (on data collected in the field).


1 key visual + 400 words of interpretation

Written feedback provided via Turnitin within 15 working days.


Assessment 2: Data collection strategy report.

Students will design a data collection strategy based on techniques and methods taught in the field to answer a predefined research question. Students should also connect this to their learning in other modules (e.g., EMMC) where sampling design and strategy is discussed.

1500 words

Written feedback provided via Turnitin within 15 working days.



Feedback methods

Written feedback provided via Turnitin within 15 working days.

Recommended reading

There is no core text for this module but we will provide you with a dedicated reading list for the key themes covered as well as location specific reading for the field area.

Indicative reading and resources for Northumberland landscapes includes:

De Frenne, P., Lenoir, J., Luoto, M., Scheffers, B.R., Zellweger, F., Aalto, J., Ashcroft, M.B., Christiansen, D.M., Decocq, G., De Pauw, K., Govaert, S., Greiser, C., Gril, E., Hampe, A., Jucker, T., Klinges, D.H., Koelemeijer, I.A., Lembrechts, J.J., Marrec, R., Meeussen, C., Ogée, J., Tyystjärvi, V., Vangansbeke, P. and Hylander, K. (2021) Forest microclimates and climate change: Importance, drivers and future research agenda. Global Change Biology, 27, 2279-2297.

Evans, M. G. and Waburton, J. (2010) Peatland Geomorphology and Carbon Cycling. Geography Compass, 4(10), 1513–1531.

Haapalehto, T.O., Vasander, H., Jauhiainen, S., Tahvanainen, T. and Kotiaho, J.S. (2011) The effects of peatland restoration on water‐table depth, elemental concentrations, and vegetation: 10 years of changes. Restoration Ecology, 19(5), 587-598.

Mason, W.L. and Quine, C.P., (1995). Silvicultural possibilities for increasing structural diversity in British spruce forests: the case of Kielder Forest. Forest Ecology and Management, 79(1-2), 13-28.

Northumberland County Council (no date) Flood & coastal erosion risk management plan 

Visit Kielder (2021). Kielder Forest and Water Park [online]. Available at 


Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Gareth Clay Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Notional hours of Learning***


Contact hours

Residential fieldtrip (5 days, Mon - Fri)

Other Scheduled teaching and learning activities*

Preparation classes (x2)

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