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Unit information: Research Methods in Physical Geography in 2018/19

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Research Methods in Physical Geography
Unit code GEOG20008
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Rachel Flecker
Open unit status Not open

All Year 1 mandatory Geography units.


GEOG25070 Study and Field Skills B; GEOG25010 Spatial Modelling 2; GEOG2NEW6 Year 2 Group Research Project

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


The purpose of the course is to provide students with the tools to analyse, design and carry out scientific research in the realm of physical geography. Students will be introduced to the principles and practice of research in physical geography using a programme of lectures, field classes, laboratory and computer-based practical classes and seminars. The course is assessed through a multiple-choice exam. The unit also covers Health and Safety issues in field and laboratory environments.

The principal aim of this unit is to provide the students with the laboratory and field skills to design and carry-out successfully their year 2 project (Year 2 Group Research Project) and their second year field trip (GEOG25070 Study and Field Skills B) and ultimately, their dissertation.

Within this remit, the unit aims are:

  • to develop the students’ higher-level skills in observation, measurement and reporting;
  • to provide a platform for independent research;
  • to prompt independent reflection on scientific practice, especially that adopted in Physical Geography

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  1. Work safely in the field or a scientific laboratory with an awareness of standard procedures
  2. Employ a variety of technical, field and laboratory-based methods for collecting and analysing spatial and environmental information

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • Team working and collaboration
  • Numeracy and computation
  • Information technology

Teaching details


Assessment Details

Summative assessments:

Online multiple-choice exam (100%) [ILOs 1-2]

Reading and References


  1. Bradbury, I. et al. (2002) Scientific Principles for Physical Geographers. Pearson Education, Harlow, England.
  2. Cheeseman, R.V. and Wilson, A. L. (1978) Manual of Analytical Quality for the Water Industry. Water Research Centre Technical report, TB66
  3. Clifford, N., and Valentine, G. (2004) Key Methods in Geography. Sage Publication.
  4. Montieth, J.L., and Unsworth, M.H. (1990), Principles of Environmental Physics, 2nd ed., Edward Arnold,. New York
  5. Parsons, T., and Knight. P.G. (2001) How To Do Your Dissertation in Geography and Related Disciplines. Nelson Thornes.
  6. Ritchie, W, Wood, M, Wright, R. & Tait, D (1988) Surveying and Mapping for Field Scientists. Longman.