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Physical Geography Brazil Field Trip

Module titlePhysical Geography Brazil Field Trip
Module codeGEO2307B
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Lina Mercado (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The Physical Geography Field Trip is an essential part of the Physical Geography degree programme at Exeter. The Brazil field trip is an opportunity to experience the diversity and functioning of tropical ecosystems in the Atlantic forest region. This region is a biodiversity hot spot. The field trip is designed to cover several ecosystems including Atlantic forest, Mangrove, coastal vegetation and coastal lagoons. During your time there, you will visit important conservation areas, including the Poço das Antas Reserve, home to the extremely rare Golden Lion Tamarin monkey. The fieldwork will provide you with hands on training in field techniques, remote sensing, and data processing and analysis for quantifying the main processes and understanding key issues for conservation of tropical biomes under human pressures. In addition to fieldwork activities and visits to the various natural reserves and ecosystems, you have the privilege to engage with local experts, who will give presentations on the different ecosystems, their biodiversity and conservation strategies, guided tours of ecosystems, and support on your projects.

The module consists of two main parts:

  • Pre-trip preparation during term two: typically, this involves a mix of lectures, projects including self-directed study that provide you with the necessary background information and data to successfully undertake the field class.
  • The trip itself generally lasts seven days in Brazil and consists of a series of visits to various ecosystems, field measurements, lectures by local experts, and work on group projects.

Geography FCH students may elect to take this module if they are taking 60 or more credits in Geography at stage 2 including GEO2331 Research Design in Physical Geography (15 credits) and GEO2332 Numerical Methods for Physical Geographers (15 credits). If a trip is oversubscribed priority will be given to students based on Stage 1 grades, priority to students for which GEO2307 is a compulsory module and availability of other trips.

A certificate of yellow fever vaccination has previously been required for entry to the biological reserves and you should plan for travel vaccinations based on advice from your GP.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The field trip has the following main aims:

  • To provide you with an opportunity to apply the knowledge gained through lecture-based modules to field-based geographical study
  • To enable you to acquire skills in measurement techniques and research design.
  • To help you to develop and extend your awareness of the importance of taught, learnt and observational skills, in strengthening employability potential.
  • To develop transferable skills, including effective communication, time management, presentation skills.
  • To give you further preparatory training for undertaking your dissertation (GEO3321/GEO3322), especially in experimental design and execution of a research project.
  • To conduct a complete research project from start to finish (developing numerous skills including, project planning, management, data analysis).

By attending the taught session and completing formative and summative assessed coursework, you will develop your academic and professional skills. Such skills include evaluating research evidence and scientific ideas, critical thinking, discussion and presentation skills. This will help you to grow in confidence and practice how to develop and present your own views and ideas in presentations, discussions, and written work.

In this module, we aim to enhance your employability through the encouragement and development of personal skills, self-presentation and confidence and by increasing your awareness of how the module content contributes to positive graduate attributes. Specifically, this module will enhance your teamwork and management skills as you will be working with a core team for a week, directing other students on data collection, and collaborating with other teams. You will need to be flexible, and demonstrate ingenuity to find fast, practical solutions to unexpected issues (such as site availability, instrumentation issues, weather conditions etc). Devising strategies to successfully tackle unexpected issues you will increase your confidence in responding effectively under difficult situations, a trait sought by future employers. Additionally, during this field trip, you will be exposed to Brazilian culture which will be an enriching cultural experience.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe selected field-based methodologies and techniques used in collecting, analysing and presenting geographical information within the specific context of field based geographical research, and apply these with limited guidance
  • 2. Identify, formulate and evaluate questions or problems
  • 3. Design, execute and report on a short research project (with due consideration of safety and risk assessment)
  • 4. Discuss specific case studies and examples relevant to specific themes relating to the field class
  • 5. Describe and explain the results of practical fieldwork and relate results to existing bodies of geographical knowledge
  • 6. Apply, interpret and use with limited guidance numerical and statistical (geographical) information
  • 7. Take a systematic approach to accuracy, precision and uncertainty

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Identify a diverse range of approaches to the generation of knowledge and understanding
  • 9. Apply geographical concepts in different situations
  • 10. Outline the nature of change within physical environments
  • 11. Discuss reciprocal relationships between physical and human environments
  • 12. Explain the significance of spatial relationships as influences upon physical environments

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 13. Communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively and fluently by written, oral and visual means
  • 14. Use technologies effectively and appropriately and with limited guidance to select, analyse, present and communicate geographical information
  • 15. Undertake independent/self-directed study/learning (including time management) to achieve consistent, proficient and sustained attainment
  • 16. Work as a participant and leader of a group and contribute effectively to the achievement of objectives
  • 17. Reflect on the process of learning and evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Topics covered by this module include key areas of active research of the module convenors. This research-led teaching includes:

  • Conservation and restoration of Atlantic forest biome
  • Biodiversity
  • Biogeography of Atlantic forest biome
  • Human modified forests
  • Bathymetry, water quality and biochemistry in river estuaries and lakes
  • Remote sensing of vegetation phenology, health and land cover
  • Micrometeorology
  • Vegetation modelling
  • Techniques used to monitor ecosystems
  • Impacts of exotic and invasive species on native tropical forest
  • Mangrove ecosystems
  • Ecosystem adaptation to environmental stress
  • Forest inventory
  • Forest succession and dynamics
  • Land-use and land-cover change
  • Spectral characterisation of different land cover types
  • Geology
  • Leaf morphology

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Preparatory lecture sessions – reading / research groups/ lectures/ small group activity
Scheduled Learning and Teaching63Field trip - directed learning in the field and small group projects, evening lectures, field project discussion, analysis sessions, student-led results presentations
Guided Independent Study82Additional reading, research and preparation for the module assessments before and after the trip.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Pre-fieldtrip group presentation 1 – project proposal 7-12 minutes including questionsAllOral
Fieldtrip group presentation 2 – Atlantic forest biomes7-12 minutes including questionsAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group oral presentation of field project during trip (10 % of this assessment i.e. 4% overall, will be an individual mark on quality of presentation delivery)4015-20 minutes including questionsAllWritten
Choice of one of the following individual pieces of work: Documentary video OR Documentary story map blog ( minutes or 1800 words1-15, 17Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group oral presentationSee notes below1-15, 17August Ref/Def
Documentary video OR Documentary story map blogSee notes below1-15, 17August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

These notes define what will happen in three re-assessment scenarios:

If you are unable to attend the field trip for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee or you are too late to be transferred to the Virtual Field Trip module (GEO2307E), you will be re-assessed for field work skills via two new assessments to be submitted for the August deferral period:

  • A 2000-word essay, related to key themes introduced in the pre-departure workshops;
  • A 2000-word project report, based upon desk-based research on a theme, site, or issue related to Brazil.

Both pieces of assessment will be devised in discussion with the module convenor.

If, having participated in the field trip, you are unable to complete the group oral presentation for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will be required to submit an individual PowerPoint presentation with a 1500-word narrative in the notes section in the August deferral period. If you are deferred in the documentary video or documentary story map blog, you will be required to submit either in the August deferral period.

The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

If you fail the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%), you will be required to submit a 3000-word project report based upon desk-based research on a theme, site, or issue related to Brazil. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Reading lists appropriate to each field trip will be issued during term two.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Field trip, Brazil

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites

GEO2331 Research Design in Physical Geography and GEO2332 Numerical Methods for Physical Geographers

NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date