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This page describes our typical field class offering and the classes described here relate to the destinations visited in the years before the coronavirus outbreak.

Given the pandemic and associated restrictions on travel, we have needed to adapt our approach and implement virtual field classes. These have been nominated for a Times Higher Education Award in the category Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year 2021, about which we are extremely pleased and proud.

We are, nevertheless, firmly committed to our return to the field as an important part of the student learning experience, subject to relevant restrictions, regulations and guidance and the implementation of all reasonable measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our students and colleagues.

We see field classes as a critical part of your training, enabling you to develop skills in field techniques, observation skills, data analysis and presentation, and teamwork and life skills.

In addition to the compulsory Year 1 field class in the UK, students have the option to undertake a Year 2 field class. In past years these have ranged from European cities to Mediterranean landscapes.

A significant number of students also choose to take an optional field class in their final year.

Fieldwork is an increasingly important component of many modules, from GIS mapping on the University campus to exploring other settings in the UK and abroad.

All of our compulsory field classes are heavily subsidised by the Department, and the cost of the first-year trip to Somerset is included in your fees.

Core first-year field class: Somerset

In previous years, this module has included a three-day residential field class halfway through the first term, based at a nature reserve in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Somerset.

The cost of this trip is included in your standard undergraduate fees. This is a core module for all degrees other than BSc Geography and Economics, when it is optional.

 

Second-year field classes

We offer a choice of compulsory second-year field classes. Popular recent options we have offered in previous years have included Almeria, Berlin, Naples and Crete.

“The Year 2 field class was one of my highlights from my time at university. There was such a range of destinations. Whilst we are there for academic purposes, it certainly provides a nice social aspect to get to know your course friends and lecturers a lot better!”

Rikhil Morjara

BSc Geography and Economics

Almeria

This field class in southern Spain investigated the unique background geology, hydrology and soils of this part of the Mediterranean. Students also studied the adaptations of the local flora to the arid conditions and the impact of human activity, including agriculture and tourism.

It also examined what measures are being taken to ensure sustainable development of the region.

This field class was especially suitable for environmental science as well as physical geography students.

“We visited a number of study sites throughout the week including the volcanic Cabo de Gata national park, the Tabernas desert and the botanical gardens at Rodalquilar.

"Many aspects of environmental science were covered, with a focus on the relationships between geology, soils, climate, vegetation, hydrology and human land use/agricultural methods.

"We learnt a range of field techniques and carried out a research project in small groups; beginning with a hypothesis, collecting the data in the field and finally writing it up in a 'mini-dissertation' format, a great help in understanding the structure and writing style required in Part 3.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the field trip, particularly the physical geography side of it as this provided a background understanding to my other modules. It's a fantastic opportunity to bond with everyone else on the course whilst gaining key skills at the same time.”

Eleanor Wright

BSc Environmental Science

Crete

This field class focused on both the human and physical geography of Crete. Students used a wide range of research techniques to investigate the relationship between human activity and the environment, such as the impact of tourism on the local area.

We also researched the physical environment and landscape of the region by measuring and modelling the extent of recent flood activity in the Ilingas Gorge.

This field class was suitable for students from all geography courses.

“Our field trip visited the island of Crete. We flew into Chania and stayed in the village of Chorasfakia.

"We studied how tourism affected the locals – how time of year, weather, economy all affected the village, also visiting nearby villages Loutro and Agia Roumeli via ferry.

"As well as this we looked at physical forms on the island. For this we visited a couple of gorges where we conducted our physical research looking at lichen, gorge width and vegetation among other things.

"We learned different skills such as how to age lichen and trees, things which were later helpful in writing up the report.

"The trip overall was brilliant. It brought together different groups of students who may not have worked together previously and gave us all an insight into life in Greece.”

Maria Anastasiou

BSc Geography (Human and Physical)

Berlin

This class included a city-wide Berlin Wall tour and visits to the city's museums. Students explored some of the contested neighbourhood spaces of Berlin through the lens of graffiti and public art, and learned about the Transition movement.

This field class was especially suitable for human geography as well as geography and economics students.

“I gained an understanding of the city's complex history, culture and economy. Having a lot of independence during the trip meant that we had time to have fun exploring the city, and prepare our group projects.

"I would definitely recommend attending a field trip during your course at university as it gave us the opportunity to apply some of the theories we learned while meeting new people and visiting historic places!

"The balance between studies/fieldwork and leisure was spot on, everyone got along perfectly."

Aristides Savva

BSc Geography and Economics

Naples

Students climbed Mount Vesuvius to look over the Bay of Naples and discussed the evacuation plan for the city in the light of further eruptions. They visited Pompeii and Oplontis to witness the effects of the AD 79 eruption on the Roman cities in the surrounding area.

This field class was especially suitable for physical geography as well as human and physical geography students.

 

Final-year optional field classes

Our past final-year field classes have been driven by student interest. Our most popular option has been Iceland.

Iceland

This field class investigated the geological context of Iceland as a volcanic island on the mid-Atlantic ridge, the geomorphology of the area, and the history of the landscape and aspects of the archaeological and cultural history of human activity on the island.

Students have also explored issues such as sustainable energy and food supply during this optional final-year field class.

“The Iceland field trip offered the opportunity to explore the Southern coast of Iceland and the capital of Reykjavik from a geography student's perspective; looking at glaciers, coastal environments and of course, volcanoes.

"During our trip we collected glacial retreat data as part of the University of Reykjavik's ongoing work and we conducted our own fieldwork investigation on the glacial outwash systems in the south.

"A particular highlight of the trip was having the chance to ice-climb up a crevasse on a glacier, which was an experience we wouldn't have otherwise had the opportunity to do!

"The trip offered us the chance to work in the field in groups from different courses within our School. This was perhaps one of the best aspects of the trip as we made new friends from different courses and had the chance to work with new people, some of whom we had never met before.

The Iceland field trip has inspired me to look into furthering my education through doing my master's there and consider a career that involves being outside as much as possible!

The trip was a fantastic opportunity to see and experience a country and a landscape that had perhaps sparked our initial interest in real geography in the first place!”

Sarah Newman

BSc Geography (Human and Physical)

How you'll study

You'll learn from experts in the field through lectures, practical classes, fieldwork and small-group tutorials. We also offer a variety of placement opportunities where you can gain real-world experience.

Our courses

Our degree courses cover topics including climate change, sustainability, global justice and development.

Life in the Department

Join a welcoming, supportive community, where you'll have opportunities to get to know fellow students in field classes and group work, as well as at events hosted by the student-run GeogSoc.

Athena SWAN Silver Award