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Design and Management of Environmental Projects

  • Module code: GG5400
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 5
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module is core for all Level 5 Environmental Science students and forms a bridge between Level 4 GG4090 Research and Fieldwork Methods and Level 6 GG6400 Research Project.

1)    Students design, manage and execute an environmental science or environmental hazards research project in a 'real-life' field-based setting. Students are tutored in aspects of research design: defining research questions, research philosophy and appropriate methodologies. Students learn practical aspects of research design such as logistical considerations of time and budget limitations as well as data archiving (including digital and mobile technology) and location based analysis. They will design and manage a field-based research project in a UK and/or overseas setting.

2)    A Personal Tutorial System (PTS) will run in parallel to the taught elements of the module whereby students will integrate and develop their learning from this module to the wider academic and professional/workplace context. The PTS will emphasise key employability skills that will be acquired through the production of the research projects and their relationship to employability skills in other Level 5 modules. This will assist those students wishing to take a sandwich year and prepare those students and provide a development platform for the production of an independent research proposal. On completion of this module students will have gained first- hand experience of research project design and management as a pre-cursor to their Level 6 Independent Research Project and/or work placement

3)    Students will learn how to collect, manipulate and interpret statistical environmental data and apply this learning to their project-based investigations.

Aims

  • To learn and practice how to design and manage an environmental research projects in 'real-life' settings and identify and value a range of employability skills associated with their research.
  • To develop a range of supporting statistical and qualitative, field-based and practical skills to facilitate the acquisition, manipulation and evaluation of environmental and geographical information.
  • To facilitate the preparation of the Level 6 Independent Research Project and/or sandwich year.

Learning outcomes

  • Design and execute a geographical or environmental research investigation.
  • Understand the importance of, and achieve, quality control in project design and management and be able to undertake critical analysis of geographical and/or environmental research projects and published literature.
  • Confidently select and apply appropriate statistical and qualitative methods to support the investigation and evaluation of quantitative and qualitative information.
  • Take account of, or mitigate, logistical considerations in field-based project design and management, safety aspects associated with such projects, ethical issues and intellectual property.
  • Communicate with clarity the findings of a research investigation.
  • Through personal tutorials, develop wider transferable skills (including employability skills) that connect the experiences of the module to their wider academic learning environment and career/professional development, and prepare an independent research proposal as a pre-cursor to embarking on a sandwich year and/or an independent research project at Level 6.

Curriculum content

  • Defining the research question and identifying research aims and objectives.
  • Providing context, undertake scoping exercises, defining appropriate information and data needs to answer the question.
  • Develop an understanding of significance, quality requirements, errors and accuracy through the transcription and evaluation of primary and secondary data.
  • Statistical and qualitative analysis of environmental data - a systematic and practically supported approach.
  • Planning for field-based investigations, logistical considerations, information archiving (manual and digital archives, blogs and cross-reference), field-based support tools and methodologies (location-based analysis, mobile technologies, etc.) through theoretical and practical example.
  • Communicating research in a variety of formats: report analysis, textural, web-based and oral communication, graphics and cartographic communication exercise.
  • Design, management, execution and communication of a field-based research project. Evaluation of transferable best-practice as a pre-cursor to Level 6 Independent Research Project.
  • Evaluation of past student projects.
  • Designing an individual research project proposal for final year study or for investigation during placement.
  • Personal academic development and awareness developed through the integration of the Personal Tutorial Scheme (PTS) including the highlight a range of employability skills and the transferable lessons of the module to the workplace.

Teaching and learning strategy

By its nature the module is practically orientated and will develop a range of research and fieldwork methods acquired in Level 4 (e.g. GG4090 Research and Fieldwork Methods). Students will inhabit various learning spaces (e.g. the lecture theatre, laboratory and the field) and will be supported to blend their learning experiences. Lectures introduce the module and the key sections relating to fieldwork project design and to individual research. Theoretical lectures are followed-up in session with practical classes. Project design and management are developed and practices through individual and small group projects undertaken with staff guidance and support. Fieldwork enables students to test out their ideas relating to research design and execution. Fieldwork learning will be supported by the use of a fieldwork blog and/or Canvas VLE discussion boards to provide a shared space for reflection and feedback of group-based investigations. The final phase of the module focuses on the reflection of the learning experiences to date and 'feed-forward' to independent project planning in preparation for final year independent research project design, or for placement students, for project work during placement.

The module will also integrate the Level 5 Personal Tutorial Scheme (PTS):

  • Encourage independence and independent learning - practiced through the design and management of a field-based project.
  • Evaluate the linkages between students' studies at Level 5 and the wider picture, e.g. student project tasks will examine 'real world' challenges and guide students to identify and value a range of employability skills.
  • Foster the student response to feedback - practiced through taking the transferrable lessons of their project work through to the design of their research project proposal.

Employability skills will be developed throughout the module and will be highlighted in the PTS. These will include: teamwork and conflict resolution, time and project management, the delegation and prioritisation of tasks, professional interaction with stakeholders and participants in research, and, oral and written communication skills.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lecture Practical Tutorial Fieldwork (7 days) 38 34 5 56
Guided independent study 167
Study abroad / placement 0
Total (number of credits x 10) 300
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

(A) An in-class statistical test (40%, 2 hours) that builds on weekly formative assessment and 'feed-forward' knowledge development.

(B) Fieldwork assessment that builds upon the foundation of a formative pre-fieldwork research proposal and a final fieldwork report (40%, 2000 words plus graphics).

(C) The production of a dissertation proposal (20%, 1500 words) that will draw on the experiences of A and B.

Formative assessments include:

(D) Small group project scoping exercises

(E) Weekly problem sets associated with each of the statistical sessions

(F) A consultancy report evaluation exercise

(G) Pre-fieldwork research proposal

(H) Dissertation proposal scoping (included in the PTS)

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1) Design and execute an environmental and/or geographical research investigation. (B) Fieldwork assessment (40%) that builds upon a formative pre-fieldwork research proposal (G) (D) Small group project scoping exercises (F) A consultancy report evaluation exercise
2) Understand the importance of, and achieve, quality control in project design and management and be able to undertake critical analysis of environmental and/or geographical research projects and published literature. (A) An in-class (practical examination) statistical test (40%) that builds on weekly formative assessment and ‘feed-forward' knowledge development. (E) Weekly problem sets associated with each of the statistical sessions
3) Take account of or mitigate, logistical considerations in field-based project design and management, safety aspects associated with such projects, ethical issues and intellectual property rights. (B) Fieldwork assessment (40%) (D) Small group project scoping exercises (F) A consultancy report evaluation exercise (H) Dissertation proposal scoping (included in the Tutorials)
4) Communicate with clarity, the findings of a research investigation. (B) Fieldwork assessment (40%) (D) Small group project scoping exercises (F) A consultancy report evaluation exercise (H) Dissertation proposal scoping (included in the PTS)
5) Confidently select and apply appropriate statistical and qualitative methods to support the investigation and evaluation of quantitative information. (B) Fieldwork assessment (40%) (F) A consultancy report evaluation exercise
6) Through personal tutorials, develop wider transferable skills (including employability skills) that connect the experiences of the module to their wider academic learning environment and career/professional development, and prepare an independent research proposal as a pre-cursor to embarking on a sandwich year and/or an independent research project at Level 6. (H) Dissertation proposal scoping (included in the Tutorials)

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
In-class statistics test Written Examination 40
Fieldwork assignment Coursework 40
Dissertation proposal Coursework 20
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major element of assessment is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Kneale PE (2013) Study Skills for Geography, Earth and Environmental Students - A Practical Guide (3rd edition), London: Arnold.

Bibliography recommended reading

Chapman J and Monroe CB (2009) An Introduction to Statistical Problem Solving in Geography (2nd edition), Mc Graw-Hill, London.

Clifford N, French S and Valentine G (2010) Key Methods in Geography (2nd edition), Sage Publications, London.

Flowerdew R (2005) Methods in Human Geography: a Guide for Students Doing a Research Project (2nd edition). Routledge, London.

Hay I (2006) Communicating Effectively in Geography and the Environmental Sciences (3rd edition), Oxford, Oxford.

Knight P and Parsons T (2003) How to do Essays, Exams and Coursework in Geography and Related Disciplines, Nelson-Thornes, Cheltenham.

Parsons A and Knight PG (2015) How to do Your Dissertation in Geography and Related Disciplnes (3rd edition). Routledge, London.

Wheater CP and Cook PA (2000) Using Statistics to Understand the Environment, Routledge, London.

Wheeler D, Shaw G. and Barr S (1994) Statistical Techniques in Geographical Analysis (2nd edition), John Wiley, Chichester.

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