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Unit information: Study and Field Skills B in 2018/19

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Unit name Study and Field Skills B
Unit code GEOG25070
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Tranter
Open unit status Not open

All units in Single Honours Geography Year 1


Research Methods in Physical Geography and at least two physical Geography units from Year 2.

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


The unit comprises of a 7 day residential field course in Arolla (Valais, Switzerland).

Field Class

The field class will be five or six days duration, and include preliminary introductory lectures, group field teaching and discussion, directed group research and an independent research project session.

A combination of staff-guided and self-directed group projects will enable students to learn about the varied physical environments of Arolla, in the Valais region of Switzerland. Staff-guided projects on each of the first two full working days will focus on the geomorphology, snow cover, glaciology and hydrology of the Arolla valley, and take advantage of the current weather and snow conditions. They are likely to include: snow processes in the Arolla valley, fluvial processes and sediment transport, and glacier and groundwater biogeochemistry. Students will undertake self-directed projects, initially in liaison and with the approval of staff, on the final two full working days. These projects usually extend on aspects of the field work during the first three days that capture the imagination of particular cohorts of students. These projects provide invaluable experience for those undertaking field work when conducting their Dissertations. Full briefing on health and safety aspects of the projects are given by the staff.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  1. Plan and undertake independent field and research work;
  2. present the results of such studies verbally and in written form.

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Team work
  • Numeracy
  • Computer literacy
  • Problem solving
  • Analytical skills
  • Planning
  • Project management
  • Planning and delivering an oral presentation
  • Self and peer-group assessment

Teaching details

Briefing lectures, seminars, tutorials, fieldwork.

Assessment Details

Percentage of the unit that is coursework: 100

Fieldwork report (100%).

Reading and References

Recommended reading:

  • Gray, D.M. and Male, D.H. (1991) Handbook of Snow, Principles, Management and Use.
  • Röthlisberger, H. and Lang, H. (1987) Glacial Hydrology, In, Glacial Fluvial Sediment Transfer:An Alpine Perspective, Eds. Gurnell, A.M. and M. Clark, 208-283.
  • Fountain and Walder. (1998) Water flow through temperate glaciers, Review of Geophysics, 299-328.
  • Sharp et al, (1988) Glacier hydrology and hydrochemistry, 1998, Advances in Hydrological Processes Special Issue eds. (Wiley and sons)
  • Tranter et al, (1993) A conceptual model of solute acquisition by Alpine glacial meltwaters, Journal of Glaciology, 39, 573-581.
  • Brown, G.H. (2002) Glacier meltwater hydrochemistry, Applied Geochemistry, 17, 855-883.