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Geography at Penryn Campus: New postgraduate students

Postgraduate taught students: Penryn Campus

Postgraduate taught students: Penryn Campus

Postgraduate taught students: Penryn Campus

Postgraduate taught students: Penryn Campus

Postgraduate taught students: Penryn Campus

Postgraduate taught students: Penryn Campus

Postgraduate taught students: Penryn Campus

Postgraduate taught students: Penryn Campus

Postgraduate taught students: Penryn Campus

A very warm welcome to the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science (CGES) at the University of Exeter. Congratulations on securing your place here – we look forward to meeting you, and hope you will enjoy a rewarding and challenging academic experience with us.

Please take time to look through the induction information on this page to prepare you for the start of term.

On this page: Academic inductionLinks and contacts | Module information | Your tutors | Learning environments | Assessments and reading | More information

We will be updating this page regularly as new details of induction and welcome activities are released. Please ensure you check back here frequently for updates, as well as your personal email account, new University of Exeter email account, and your My Timetable for the most up-to-date information from us. (Please note you need to register with the University and activate your IT account to access My Timetable.) If you have any questions about your induction or starting your studies, please contact your Info Point using the details on this page.

Welcome from the Director of the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science

Meet your Head of Department, Professor James Scourse.

College online induction

This induction course for CLES students is all about helping you to feel confident and happy during your first couple of weeks with us.

Your student experience during Covid-19

Find out about our plans to provide a safe studying and campus experience on our dedicated Coronavirus webpages.

Your academic induction

During Welcome Week (13-19 September) you will have some scheduled induction meetings to get to know the department.

Full details about these sessions will appear in your timetable in the iExeter app very soon. If on arrival you are unsure when your induction meetings are, please ask at the Information Point.

The purpose of academic induction is to introduce you to your academic programme, complete any necessary pre-registration tasks, familiarise yourself with your academic buildings, and meet fellow students and the academic staff for your subjects. 

Links and contacts

Support with your studies

The Penryn Info Point is your first port of call for the Education Support Services Team, the Welfare Team and the Student Records/Exams Team or anything else related to your academic studies.

You can find a complete list of all staff in the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science here, including office locations and contact details.

Support with student life

The Compass is your first port of call for non-academic support and access to Student Services.

Your timetable

You can access your timetable via MyTimetable or in the iExeter app. Our How MyTimetable Works guide explains how to understand your timetable, check if your classes are online or on campus, and access your online classes.


If you are interested in joining any societies, you can look out for Geog Soc during Freshers’ Week.

Your welfare

Studying at Penryn

Can you commit to one hour a week chatting to prospective students on your smartphone? Do you enjoy talking/writing? If yes, apply to become a Unibuddy Ambassador for the University of Exeter.

  • Share your experiences of University life
  • Build professional skills
  • Improve your CV and increase employability prospects
  • Support students just like you
  • Earn while you learn

Unibuddy is a social platform that connects current students with prospective applicants from around the world. Through informal chats, blogs and videos, Unibuddy ambassadors offer support, guidance and information to help applicants make the right decisions about higher education.

As a Unibuddy ambassador you will:

  • Answer questions from students about study, life and your experience at university (one hour per week at the standard ESA (Exeter Student Ambassador) hourly rate).
  • Help students find the right information and contact details for particular departments/people at the University of Exeter.
  • Check your account on a daily basis and answer questions in a timely manner.
  • Keep conversations going and build up a friendly relationship with students by asking questions and being engaging.
  • Provide a real insight into the University of Exeter experiences through chats, blogs and videos (a minimum of two pieces of content per month).

To be a successful Unibuddy you will:

  • Be a confident communicator who enjoys producing engaging content.
  • Have a positive outlook on university life and study.
  • Be flexible and willing to respond to questions quickly and efficiently.
  • Adopt a mature and professional approach to conversations.

How to apply:

To apply for this role, please express your interest to We look forward to hearing from you!

Your modules

In these videos, some of our academic tutors talk you through the core (compulsory) and optional modules for our postgraduate taught programmes. You will choose your optional modules shortly after you arrive.

Modules in MSc Sustainable Development

Modules in MRes Sustainable Futures

Your tutors

Let’s introduce you to some of the key people in our department who’ll be supporting you through your programme of study. Most of our academic members of staff (or ‘faculty’) split their time between teaching and research, with some also taking on additional administrative roles.

As soon as you arrive, you’ll be allocated your own dedicated Academic Tutor who will be your first point of contact if you have any queries or concerns about your overall progress and wellbeing. Across the university you may also see these referred to as ‘Personal Tutors’ or ‘Academic Personal Tutors’, but it’s all the same role.

You’ll be invited to attend regular meetings with them throughout the academic year, starting in week 2, and it’s important that you go along, even if for a very quick chat to confirm that all is well. You can also contact your Academic Tutor at any time by email or by visiting them during their weekly office hours.

The relationship you build up with your tutor is an important one, not least because they will sometimes be the person who writes references for you when you start applying for jobs or other positions such as internships.

This short video outlines some of the benefits of our tutoring system:

Your degree is made up of a number of different short courses called ‘modules’. Most of these run across a single term and are each worth 15 credits towards your degree; some will run across more than one term (such as your final dissertation).

Each module is led by a named academic member of staff, but some are taught by a team of tutors who share the lectures and seminars. You can seek advice from your Module Tutors during their weekly office hours, which will be displayed on their university profile webpage and on the module’s ELE page.

Each programme (e.g. MSc Sustainable Development) is led by a Programme Director, whose job it is to oversee the running of the programme and to liaise with all of the Module Tutors to ensure that you make good progress. You might need to contact them with any programme-level concerns, and they may also be able to advise you on your module choices.

The programme director for MSc Sustainable Development and MRes Sustainable Futures is Dr Rachel Turner.

Each department has a Director of Education who has overall responsibility for the programmes and modules in their subject area. You’ll be able to meet with them during Welcome Week, and most of your contact with them will probably be in their regular role as an academic member of staff teaching you on modules. If you encounter any significant difficulties with your studies, your Director of Education may be able to work with you to resolve these. The Director of Education for CGES is Dr Michael Leyshon.

Contacting us

You can find a complete list of all staff in the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science here, and all staff in the Environment and Sustainability Institute here, including office locations and contact details.

Learning environments

Let’s take a look at the different types of learning environments you’ll experience in CGES.

It’s important to realise that the teaching you’ll have on your timetable is just a fraction of the time you’ll spend learning. Our expectation is that you are an independent learner, and you should expect to take on the responsibility for much of your learning while at university.

This academic year, some of your teaching will be delivered in person, face-to-face on campus within a classroom or lecture theatre, and some will be delivered online. The balance between on campus and online learning will likely change through the year if guidelines for social distancing and safe learning change.

Find out more about the overall teaching and learning approach on your course here, and please be aware that this information may supersede the specified teaching and learning activities within individual modules.

What is synchronous learning?

Some taught sessions will be synchronous – this means that your module tutor and all or part of the class will be interacting at the same time, either on campus or online. Synchronous sessions will run at a time and date specified in your timetable.

It is very important that you make sure that you attend and participate in all of the timetabled synchronous sessions for your module. Your timetabled sessions are opportunities for you to benefit from the expertise of our academic staff, who are there to inspire and guide your exploration of the module content rather than closely dictate what you need to do to pass your assessments.

What is asynchronous learning?

Some work set will be asynchronous – this is material that you will interact with in your own private study time, either on your own or in groups. It is important that you plan ahead to allow yourself enough time to complete asynchronous work you’ll need to develop good time management skills to succeed.

This way of studying might be quite different to how you’ve learnt in the past. It will involve regularly checking ELE pages and your University email inbox, so you might find that it takes a short while to adapt.

A presentation or talk on a particular topic, led by a Module Tutor, and often involving some interactive tasks or opportunities for discussion. This academic year, most lecture material will be recorded online and made available for you to view in your own time.

Lectures often provide an overview of a subject and form the basis for further reading and thought in your own study time. You may also be expected to complete some prior reading on the designated topic, or to follow up with activities to consolidate your learning. This will help you to get the most from the session.

Seminars or workshops are sessions that focus on a particular topic or piece of assigned work, and where students interact with each other and the tutor as they work through tasks. Many seminars in CGES will require you to complete preparatory work beforehand, sometimes in groups. You are also likely to be asked to make significant contributions to the sessions, either via discussion or presentations.

In this academic year, seminars and workshops may take one of two forms – either on campus or online (usually via Microsoft Teams). Your Module Tutors will advise you how these sessions will be run.

Some modules involve analysing data using specialist software installed on computers on campus. Computer practical sessions are run in specialist computer rooms, with module staff guiding you through the process of learning how to analyse and visualise data.

This year, some computer practical sessions may be run online, with students getting remote access to the campus computers and teaching taking place online.

Fieldwork is an important part of our programmes, taking learning outside the classroom to explore the incredible landscapes in the region and beyond. Some modules will include day trips with opportunities to get hands-on experience of fieldwork and learn in the environments that you are studying.

We hope to run field trips this year; however, if necessary due to social distancing guidelines, some field trips may be unable to run, or be moved later in the academic year.

You will have one-to-one or small group tutorials where an Academic Personal Tutor will supervise your overall progress and wellbeing. These will start in week 2 and are designed to introduce you to academic practice in higher education and prepare you for the years ahead. You might also have meetings with your Module Tutors during their weekly Office Hours, or by appointment with other members of staff who can support you through your time at Exeter.

Assessments and reading

Each module will have two main types of assessment – formative and summative.

Summative assessments are given a mark which will contribute towards your grade for that module, and for your final grade for that year of study.

Formative assessments do not count towards your final grade but are a chance for you to assess your progress, and to receive feedback to help you improve your work in the future.

For each module there will be two or three summative assessments and regular formative assessments during the term. It is important that you complete all assessments – both summative and formative – for each module that you are taking.

Module tutors will provide feedback for each assessment, with help and advice on how you can improve your marks in the future.

In CGES your assessments take a variety of forms, but include the following:

  • Essays
  • Reflective reports
  • Research diaries
  • Individual and group presentations
  • Posters
  • Exams 
  • Research reports.

More information can be obtained about specific assessment types by looking at the relevant ELE page for each module.

The University of Exeter takes academic integrity and honesty very seriously. Academic integrity and honesty is at the core of what it is to be a member of the university. This means that no student should obtain for themselves, or for another candidate, an unfair advantage.

Academic honesty means never falsifying the results of any work and always giving full credit for other people's contributions to our own achievements. More information can be found on the ELE page here and through your tutorials, including how to reference, what is meant by collusion, plagiarism, fabrication, falsification, misrepresentation and exam misconduct.

You can find suggested texts for this course in the module descriptors (see Penryn Campus: Stage 4 modules) and/or on individual module ELE pages. All recommended reading should be available through the university library.

Additional information

Welcome from Professor Richard Winsley

Richard is Associate Dean for Education in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

New students guide

The new students guide includes everything you need to know about starting University, with a handy checklist of tasks to help you through your first term.

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