BA Geography

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Research Design and Fieldwork

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG20072
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

The Research Design and Overseas Fieldwork course gives students the opportunity to examine contemporary issues and environments first hand and have the opportunity to acquire practical training and research skills for their dissertation. Running during the second semester, it is split into three parts:

Block 1: Preparatory sessions

This first block consists of a mix of lectures and/or smaller group sessions to explore substantive and methodological issues related to themes to be covered in the field course. The sessions introduce the field course destination and support students in the design of research projects to be conducted while overseas. There are usually 5 preparatory sessions, although more may be required to cover logistical issues.

Block 2: In the field

The second block consists of a period of approximately one week in the field, during which time students will undertake their research projects, in addition to various self-organised and staff-organised activities.

Block 3: Designing dissertation research

Alongside the research skills developed for the overseas field course, you will develop a proposal for your own individual dissertation. This is an extremely important process as the dissertation forms 40 credits of your third year. We guide you through this process starting with the Dissertation Kick-Off sessions at the start of semester two, and continuing in tutorials with your dissertation adviser. 

Aims

  • To develop students’ abilities as creators of geographical knowledge
  • To provide a theoretical basis as well as practical training in the elements of good research design and successful research methodologies

          To prepare students for the undertaking of the independent dissertation

Learning outcomes

  • Describe the elements of a strong research project proposal
  • Define “aims”, “objectives” and “research questions” for a research project
  • Select and apply appropriate research methodologies
  • Work in a team to develop and undertake a research project in a field setting
  • Interpret and analyse data to answer research questions

           Define a viable and exciting dissertation project to be undertaken and completed by the end of             the final year (in the framework of GEOG 30000 Dissertation)

Syllabus

This unit is split into three parts:

 

Block 1: Preparatory sessions

This first block consists of a mix of lectures and/or smaller group sessions to explore substantive and methodological issues related to themes to be covered in the field course. The sessions introduce the field course destination and support students in the design of research projects to be conducted while in the field. There are usually 5 preparatory sessions, although more may be required to cover logistics.

 

Block 2: In the field

The second block consists of a period of approximately one week in the field, during which time students will undertake their research projects, in addition to various self-organised and staff-organised activities.

 

Block 3: Designing dissertation research

Building upon the research skills developed during the field course, you will develop a proposal for your own individual dissertation. This is an extremely important process as the dissertation forms 40 credits of your third year. We guide you through this process starting with Dissertation Kick-Off sessions and continuing with focused sessions hosted by your dissertation adviser. 

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit will be delivered through a mix of staff-led and student-led lectures, small group sessions and individual tutorials.

Students will be expected to undertake reading and preparatory work for the field course before departing and to carry on this work while in ‘the field’. Sessions will draw upon a range of resources, including PowerPoint slides which will be posted to Blackboard for all sessions, links to relevant web resources, core readings and video clips. A comprehensive archive of sources and links will be compiled on Blackboard for student use.

While they all address the Intended learning Outcomes listed above, each of the field courses involves slightly different forms of research and assessment as would be expected given the diverse places in which they take place. Accordingly, each trip has its own extensive handbook. The field courses will all be departing just ahead of, or after, the Easter break. In rare instances, there may be a slight overlap the Easter break. The year meeting at the start of the first semester of your second year will support field course selection.

 

Block three, designing the dissertation, is supported through a combination of lectures, Q and A sessions, small group seminars and individual tutorials. We guide you through this process starting with the Dissertation Kick Off sessions and continuing in tutorials with your dissertation adviser. The dissertation lectures will cover the basic demands and timelines for the dissertation along with good practice in research design. These sessions also introduce the key skills of research design and discuss them in relation to what makes a good dissertation. There will be opportunity to talk with staff about various key aspects of the dissertation, including how to choose a topic, and design and execute research successfully. We will also focus on the ethical and risk implications for research and give you some ideas on appropriate topics.

Students will be asked to submit a form indicating their topic area and will be allocated a dissertation supervisor. They will then meet with their supervisor twice before Easter, first as a group, and secondly individually to discuss their research proposal. The proposal will be submitted after Easter and their field course, and then returned with detailed comments soon after. The final meeting will take place individually with their dissertation tutor after Easter to discuss the proposal and plans

Transferable skills and personal qualities

During this course unit, you will be encouraged to develop the following abilities and skills:

  • The ability to think critically in order to identify and address novel and important research questions
  • The ability to work independently
  • The capacity to design a research project and select appropriate methods that are grounded in the academic literature
  • The ability to gather and analyse data in the field
  • The ability to manage time in order to meet strict deadlines
  • The  interpersonal skills required to work in a team
  • The capacity to identify key findings and present them verbally

Assessment methods

GEOG 20072 is assessed on the following basis:

  1. Field Course Essay or Field Course Report (50%)
  2. Dissertation Proposal (50%)

Assessment 1 will be set and marked by the field course leaders. Depending on the dates of the field course, Assessment 1 may either be an 

Essay to be completed before the field course, or a Report to be completed after the field course. Assessment 2 will be set and marked by the dissertation advisor. Detailed guidance on all the assessments will be provided by the field course leaders (Assessments 1) and the dissertation coordinator (Assessment 2).

Other non-assessed (formative) tasks may be set by the field course leaders and dissertation advisors. All students will also conduct a formative team-based presentation relating to the fieldwork activities.

If any student is unable to take part in a field course for valid health or other reasons, alternatives assessments may be set by the field course leaders.

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided in the following ways during this course unit:

  • Written and verbal feedback on coursework from field course leaders or dissertation advisors;
  • Peer feedback on team presentations;
  • Extensive opportunity for discussion and feedback during the field course and
  • One-to-one meetings with the dissertation advisor;

Consultation hours with staff to assist with any queries;

Recommended reading

 

Balnaves M and Caputi P (2001) Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods: an investigate research, Sage: London

Brannen J (Ed.) (1992) Mixing Methods: qualitative and quantitative research, Ashgate: Aldershot
Clifford N and Valentine G (Eds.) (2003) Key Methods in Geography, Sage: London

Dordrecht, R. (2000) Fieldwork in Geography: perspectives, reflections and actions, London: Kluwer Academic

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Fieldwork 56
Lectures 16
Project supervision 2
Tutorials 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 124

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Peter Ryan Unit coordinator
Joe Blakey Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Information
The Overseas Field Course and Research Design course gives students the opportunity to examine contemporary issues and environments first hand and have the opportunity to acquire practical training and research skills for their dissertation.

Timetable
This course is not open to Free Choice Students

Core course unit for BA/BSc Geography and BSc Geography and Geology Students

Lecture: TBC

Seminars: TBC

Pete Ryan (Dissertation Coordinator)

Joe Blakey (Field Courses Coordinator)

Geography Staff (Dissertation Supervisors)

Geography Staff (Field Course Convenors)

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