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Isles of Scilly Field Course

Module titleIsles of Scilly Field Course
Module codeGEO2447
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Professor Jane Wills (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module explores questions of environmental change and sustainability by looking at the practicalities of research design and methodology in relation to the Isles of Scilly. It will enable you to develop the conceptual, analytical and practical research skills necessary for you to carry out independent research work, initially within this module, but also with direct applicability to project work through the rest of your degree and is particularly focused on the skills you need to undertake a high quality dissertation. The Isles of Scilly is an ideal location in which you will get to think about a range of methodologies used in study, including human and physical geography, and environmental science. In addition, the module will introduce you to key research skills such as sampling design, data analysis, interpretation of information, and field presentations. During the module you will have access to lecturers to learn new skills and to help develop your plans for your dissertation.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module prepares you to complete research projects within your degree programme, introducing you to a range of key skills relevant to your chosen discipline by means of first-hand experience, observation and learning in relation to a particular field environment. It will provide an introduction to a range of methodologies and research skills such as sampling design, landscape interpretation, data analysis and field presentation. Independent research constitutes a central element in your degree programme and is a critical skill in employability. As a whole, the module builds on the introductory fieldwork experiences of Stage 1 and prepares you for your field work and research in Stage 3. The module aims will be achieved via staff-supported activities and group projects.

You will learn first-hand from active researchers drawing on their own research experience. The teaching contributions on this module involve elements of research undertaken by module staff, such as work on past environments (Scourse); environmental sampling and field statistics (Browse), environmental change (Caseldine); sustainability and environmental protection (Lowes, Turner); and human geography (Wills).

This module will help you to develop and extend your awareness of the importance of taught and learnt skills in strengthening employability potential, especially through the application of practical and conceptual skills to a range of issues in a field setting. More specifically, the emphasis on site-specific research will provide an opportunity for you to develop skills of project planning and delivery. The skills you gain from fieldwork and team projects in an unfamiliar and distinctive environment will all stand you in good stead for careers in the environmental sector. Transferable skills to other sectors include data handling, experimental design, presentations, report-writing, focus groups and discussions.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Describe a range of specialised techniques and approaches involved in collecting, analysing and presenting geographical information and apply these with limited guidance
  • 2. Identify/formulate and evaluate questions or problems, including those involving data collected in the field
  • 3. Identify and evaluate approaches to problem-solving with guidance, and apply new ideas to new situations in the field
  • 4. Evaluate the issues involved in applying research design skills within the specific context of field-based research
  • 5. Apply, interpret and use with limited guidance quantitative and qualitative information, including that gathered in the field

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 6. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature within field-based assignments
  • 7. Identify and implement, with guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing specific research problems in geography, environmental sciences and or human sciences
  • 8. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within geography, environmental sciences and or human sciences
  • 9. Describe and evaluate approaches to our understanding of in geography, environmental sciences and or human sciences with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 10. Develop, with some guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with valid conclusions
  • 11. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently using a variety of formats and means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience and environment
  • 12. Collect and interpret appropriate data and complete research-like tasks, drawing on a range of sources, with limited guidance
  • 13. Where appropriate, use C&IT effectively and appropriately and with limited guidance to select, analyse, present and communicate geographical information
  • 14. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to professional and practical skills, and apply own evaluation criteria
  • 15. Reflect effectively on learning experiences and summarise personal achievements
  • 16. Work in a team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

This module builds on the training in theory and methods in other modules but applies it to the Isles of Scilly. We explore the concrete challenges faced by island communities and think about how to design research in this particular setting. There are a number of components to this module in the field. These will normally include: surveys of different island environments, settlements and habitats, pressing social issues and policy debates.

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 Teaching15Following module material online and completing short tasks
Scheduled Learning and Teaching12Follow up workshops and possible fieldwork to explore data and develop analysis for research reports
Guided Independent Study123Reading and preparation for assignments; independent, data analysis work.


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practical exercises linked to research skillsDemonstration of skills attainment through discussion and/or completion of exercises1-5, 7-16Oral, in the lab or the field or via online exchange

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
Online test/examination30 1 hour (subject to change)AllComments via ELE
A research report based on data already collected on the Isles of Scilly and explored in follow-up workshops702000 wordsAllComments via ELE


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Online test/examinationAn essay that outlines the sustainability challenges (1000 words)AllAugust Ref/Def
A research report based on data already collected in the fieldReport (2000 words)AllAugust Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. 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.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to redo the assignment as described in the re-assessment table above. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Barnett, R. L. et al. (2020) Nonlinear landscape and cultural response to sea-level rise. Science Advances, Vol. 6, no. 45 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb6376
  • Clifford, N., French, S and Valentine, G. (ed.) 2010 Key Methods in Geography, Sage Publications.
  • Gomez, B. and Jones, J. P. (ed.) 2010 Research methods in geography: A critical introduction, Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Matthews, H.M. and Foster, I.D. (1986) Fieldwork exercises in human and physical geography. Arnold.
  • Scourse, J.D. 2006. The Isles of Scilly, Field Guide. Quaternary Research Association, London. 180pp.
  • Scourse, J.D. and Furze, M.F.A. 2001. A critical review of the glaciomarine model for Irish Sea deglaciation: evidence from southern Britain, the Celtic shelf and adjacent continental slope. Journal of Quaternary Science 16, 419-434.
  • Scourse, J.D. 1991. Late Pleistocene stratigraphy and palaeobotany of the Isles of Scilly. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B334, 405�448.
  • Scourse, J.D. 1991. Glacial deposits of the Isles of Scilly, in EHLERS, J., GIBBARD, P.L. & ROSE, J. (eds.) Glacial Deposits in Great Britain and Ireland. Rotterdam: Balkema, 291�300.
  • Hiemstra, J., Evans, D.J.A., Scourse, J.D., Furze, M.F.A., Mccarroll, D. & Rhodes, E. 2005. The Late Quaternary glacial landforms and sediments of the Isles of Scilly. Quaternary Science Reviews.
  • Smedley, R.K. et al. 2017. New age constraints for the limit of the British-Irish Ice Sheet on the Isles of Scilly. Journal ofQuaternary Science 32, 48-62. doi: 10.1002/jqs.2922
  • Thomas, C. 1985. Exploration of a Drowned Landscape: Archaeology and History of the Isles of Scilly. London: Batsford.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Physical geography, human geography, environmental science, research skills, fieldwork, Isles of Scilly.

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


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