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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geography

Undergraduate Course: Physical Geography Fieldwork: Iceland (GEGR10072)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course builds on second year course work and fieldwork to develop the practical aspects of Physical Geography through the study of environmental change.
Course description This course is based in one of the finest areas of the world for the study of both the processes and landforms of volcanism, glaciation and human impacts. 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 parts of world's high latitude and high altitude environments. In addition the characteristics of the island's biota provide fundamental tests for theories of natural selection, island biogeography and glacial refugia, that are in turn important to the understanding continental scale biogeographical patterns. The interplay of environment and culture can be unravelled to offers unique insights into societial resilience, sustainability and the development of the 'anthropocene'. Ten days are spent in the field, five of which are devoted to student lead, small group project work.

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 Semester following the fieldtrip, there will be a follow-up meeting of the whole class to discuss report writing and individual project group tutorials to assist with data analysis, interpretation and report formulation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: The Nature of Geographical Knowledge (GEGR09012) AND Research Design in Geography (GEGR09011) AND Quantitative Methods in Geography (GEGR09004) AND Qualitative Methods in Geography (GEGR09005) AND Geography Fieldwork: Foundations (Physical) (GEGR09009)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs £495
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Fieldwork Hours 100, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 94 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
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 no more than 4,000 words in length; word limits are mandatory.

In addition, there are three compulsory submissions that must meet a satisfactory standard
1. A one-page community outreach statement on the group project
2. An initial data report: The academic substance behind the community statement; data tables, annotated photographs, diagrams and maps all with detailed meta data, that summarise the data collected. This is a group submission by each project group (normally 3 people) and will form the basis for the individual write up.
2. A field notebook: To be submitted for peer review at the end of Excursions Day Two and again with the Final 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.

Assessment deadlines
One-page community statement- by 20:00 on Excursion Day Three
Initial data report- by 20:00 on Project Day Four
Field notebook and final research report: 12.00 noon, Thursday of Week 5
Feedback 1. Before the fieldtrip its self, there will be a project formulation stage, and you choose an overarching research question to tackle; detailed staff feedback and guidance will be given on your project development as it evolves during three introductory meetings.
2. During the field course, you are required to make a series of presentations about your developing project as well as taking part in peer assessment exercises. Staff feedback is given during 1:1 discussions during the actual fieldwork as well as in the evening review sessions, and after the more formal presentations
3. Immediately after the fieldtrip further detailed feedback is given on the project group initial data reports and the individual final project write-up. There will be a final meeting of the class as a whole, and this is followed by individual project-group tutorials that discuss specific details and a final 1:1 formative feedback session.
4. Detailed summative feedback is given on the final individual report.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. develop a detailed understanding and knowledge of the processes and landscape records of volcanism, glaciation and human impacts.
  2. 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.
  3. learn how the practical aspects of physical geography are developed through detailed assessments of glacierised landscape systems, high-magnitude low-frequency and low-magnitude high-frequency events, and human-environment interactions.
  4. conduct practical work combined with field-based discussion and wider reading will enable you to better understand methodologies and the ways in which geographical knowledge is is developed.
  5. lead the development of your small group research projects. You will practise the valuable transferable skills of team working, project design and implementation, and autonomy and initiative.
Reading List
Baynes E.R.C., Attal M., Niedermann S., Kirstein L.A., Dugmore A.J. and Naylor M. 2015 ¿Erosion during extreme flood events dominates Holocene canyon evolution in North - East Iceland¿, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PNAS February 24, 2015, 112, 8, 2355 2360
Church, M. J., Dugmore, A. J., Mairs, K. A., Millard, A. R., Cook, G. T., Sveinbjarnardóttir, G., Ascough, P. A., Newton, A.J and Roucoux 2007 ¿Timing and mechanisms of deforestation of the settlement period in Eyjafjallsveit, southern Iceland. Radiocarbon 49(2): 659-672
Dugmore, A.J. and Sugden, D.E. 1991 ¿Do the anomalous fluctuations of Sólheimajökull reflect ice-divide migration?¿ Boreas 20, 105-113.
Dugmore, A.J., Newton, A.J., Larsen, G. and Cook, G.T. 2000 ¿Tephrochronology, environmental change and the Norse settlement of Iceland¿ Environmental Archaeology 5, 21-34.
Dugmore, A.J. and Newton, A. 2012 ¿Isochrons and beyond- maximising the use of tephrochronology¿ Jokull: The Icelandic Journal of the Earth Sciences. 62, p. 39-52
Dugmore, A.J. and Vesteinsson, O. 2012 ¿Black Sun, High Flame, and Flood: Volcanic hazards in Iceland¿ In Cooper, J. & Sheets, P. (eds.) Surviving Sudden Environmental Change Answers from Archaeology. Boulder, Colorado, USA: University Press of Colorado, p. 67-90
Dugmore, A.J., Gísladóttir, G., Simpson, I.A. and Newton A.J. 2009 ¿Conceptual models of 1,200 years of Icelandic soil erosion reconstructed using tephrochronology¿ Journal of the North Atlantic 2, 1-18
Dugmore, A. J., Newton, A., Smith, K. and Mairs, K-A. 2013 ¿Tephrochronology and the late Holocene volcanic and flood history of Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland¿ Journal of Quaternary Science 28, 3, 237¿247
Kirkbride, M.P. and Dugmore, A.J. 2003 ¿Glaciological responses to distal tephra fallout from the 1947 eruption of Hekla, Iceland.' Journal of Glaciology 29,166,420-428
Kirkbride, M.P. and Dugmore, A.J. 2008 'Tephrochronological dating of glacier advances AD 410-1947 in Southern Iceland.' Quaternary Research. 70, 3, 398-411
Streeter R.T. and Dugmore A.J. 2014 ¿Late-Holocene land surface change in a coupled social-ecological system, southern Iceland: a cross-scale tephrochronology approach.¿ Quaternary Science Reviews 86 (2014) 99-114
Streeter, R. and Dugmore, A. J. 2013 ¿Anticipating land surface change¿: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - PNAS. 110, 15, 5779-5784.
Streeter R. T., Dugmore A.J., Lawson I.T., Erlendsson E. and Edwards K.J. 2015. The onset of the palaeoanthropocene in Iceland: Changes in complex natural systems. The Holocene, 2015, 25, 10. 1662-1675
Nelson M.C., Ingram S E., Dugmore A.J., et al., 2015 ¿Climate Challenges, Vulnerabilities, and Food Security¿ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PNAS, 113, 2, 298-303
Vésteinsson, O, Church, M. J., Dugmore, A.J., ,McGovern, T.H. and Newton, A.J. 2014 Expensive errors or rational choices: the pioneer fringe in Late Viking Age Iceland. European Journal of Post¿Classical Archaeologies 4, 39-69
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
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 organiserProf Andrew Dugmore
Tel: (0131 6)50 8156
Course secretaryMiss Carry Arnold
Tel: (0131 6)50 9847
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