Undergraduate Course: Physical Geography Fieldwork: Iceland (GEGR10072)
|School||School of Geosciences
||College||College of Science and Engineering
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This course builds on second year course work and fieldwork to develop the practical aspects of Physical Geography through the study of environmental change. It is based in one of the finest areas of the world for the study of both the processes and landforms of glaciation and volcanism. Uniquely within the Old World the timing and cultural context of the first human settlement, by the Norse in the ninth century AD, is known in detail. Iceland has the best-developed tephrochronology in the world, and this powerful dating technique offers a remarkable aid to understanding both environmental change and human-environment interactions. Icelandic studies have wide significance because processes active in Iceland today shaped large areas of the Northern Hemisphere during the Pleistocene glaciations. In addition the characteristics of the island's biota provide fundamental tests for theories of island biogeography and glacial refugia, that are in turn important to the understanding of evolution and continental scale biogeographical patterns. Historical, cultural and economic aspects of Icelandic society are also assessed because these human dimensions are vital to the wider understanding of environmental change, and offers unique insights into the interplay of culture and environment in marginal areas. Ten days is spent in the field, five of which are devoted to project work.
***PLEASE NOTE FIELD COURSE LOCATIONS MAY CHANGE FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS, INCLUDING SECURITY RISKS, INCREASED COSTS OR INABILITY TO ACCESS FIELD LOCATIONS. ANY CHANGES TO THE MAIN DESTINATION OF THE FIELD TRIP WILL BE ANNOUNCED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE***
Introductory lectures and meetings take place in Semester 2 of the preceding year at which time students formulate their own research projects with guidance from staff. The field course itself is divided between days in which students conduct their own research projects and those in which a variety of field-based talks, tutorials and exercises are used to introduce the principle landscapes and processes operating in Iceland, and to consider key theories and concepts. In the following Semester, there are follow-up lectures to discuss report writing and individual project group tutorials to assist with data analysis, interpretation and report formulation.
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Fieldwork Hours 100,
Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Course Work: 100 %.
The assessment is in the form of a research report that should be an individual write up of the research project carried out during the project days of the field trip. The report should follow the format of a paper in the natural sciences and details of appropriate formatting and style are given in the course handbook. The text has to be between 4,000-5,000 words in length; word limits are mandatory.
In addition, there are two compulsory submissions that must meet a satisfactory standard
1. Initial Data report: A two-page summary of the research project, with additional data tables, diagrams and maps, that defines each group members' contribution and the data collected. This is a group submission by each project group (normally 3 people).
2. A field notebook: To be submitted with the Research Report
This book should contain complete and legible notes that form a record of your scientific activities during the field school.
Further details on these elements are given in the course handbook.
||- During the project formulation stage students choose a general subject to tackle; detailed feedback and guidance is given on the initial project outline as it evolves during introductory meetings.
- During the field course, students are required to make two intermediate presentations and one final presentation about their projects; feedback is given on work progression and ways the project can be further improved at each of these.
- A number of detailed individual project meetings are held in the field centre, and in the field. These provide students with the opportunity to reflect on project design and progress.
- Detailed written feedback is given on the initial data report, and this is followed up by individual project-group tutorials that discuss this.
- Detailed written feedback if given on the final individual report.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- develop a detailed understanding and knowledge of the processes and landforms of glaciation and volcanism
- develop the ability to analyse environmental change through the study of system behaviour, including assessments of feedback loops, internal and external linkages, thresholds, sensitivity, rates of change and recovery
- learn how the practical aspects of physical geography are developed through detailed study of a glacial system from the accumulation zone to the outermost limits of its Holocene fluctuations, catastrophic jokulhlaups, or human-environment interactions at the margins of settlement
- practise the valuable transferable skills of team working, project design and implementation, and autonomy and initiative
- have the opportunity to work on extended individual and group projects. They will tackle professional level issues which contain a degree of unpredictability. They will critically identify and analyse complex problems as part of this
|1. Benn, D and Evans D, 2010, Glaciers and Glaciation, Arnold, 2nd edition 731pp|
2. Butlin R, and Roberts N (eds), 1995. Ecological Relations in Historical Times Blackwell, London, 344pp
3. Fitzhugh, W.W. and Ward, E.I. (2000). Vikings. The North Atlantic Saga. Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press.
4. Jokull 29, 1979, Special issue: The geology of Iceland
5. Maizels J M, and Caseldine C J (eds), 1991. Environmental Change in Iceland, Past and Present Kluwer Academic Publishers: Dordrecht 332pp
6. Stotter J, and Wilhelm F (eds), 1994 Environmental Change in Iceland (II), Munchener Geographische Abhandlungen () B12, 1-308
7. Self, S. and Sparks R.S.J. (eds) 1981. Tephra Studies, Dordrecht, Reidel
8. Williams M, Dunkerley D, De Decker P, Kershaw P and Chappell J, 1998. Quaternary Environments (Second Edition) Arnold, London 329pp
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Only available to students registered on 4th year MA Geography, BSc Geography and MA Geography with Environmental Studies programmes.
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||3 x 2 hour lectures plus tutorials and a seminar series. 10 days field work in Iceland during the summer vacation
|Course organiser||Prof Andrew Dugmore
Tel: (0131 6)50 8156
|Course secretary||Miss Kirsty Allan
Tel: (0131 6)50 9847