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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Research and Practice: Fieldwork (PGGE11232)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will provide students on the MSc in Environment & Development with a unique opportunity to experience and explore at first-hand the intersection of environment and development issues within the global South. Through on-campus lectures the course provides students with key research and methodological skills which are then put into practice during an off-campus field trip to Nepal*.

Students will be introduced to the Nepali context during on-campus lectures and once there will meet with a range of people from government, development agencies, (I)NGOs, grassroots organisations, research institutions, and local communities. They will be introduced to projects, practices and processes related to issues such as water management, community forestry, adaptation to climate change, disaster management, and biodiversity conservation (exact topics and places may change year to year due to availability). Based on these initial interactions and insights, students will then design, develop and conduct small group research projects, facilitated by staff and in-country collaborators.

*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 course will be announced as soon as possible*
Course description Nepal
Nepal offers a fascinating and unique context in which to explore the intersection of environmental management and international development. Despite its small size Nepal contains a huge variety of landscapes, habitats, biodiversity and people, from the glaciers and seasonal herders of the high Himalaya, to the forested Middle-Hills peopled by subsistence farmers, to the jungles and commercial agriculture of lowland Terai. Nepal is a hugely multicultural and multi-ethnic country, with 28 million people speaking between them 123 languages. Nepali society is based on a hierarchical caste-system, and whilst discrimination based on caste has been unlawful since the 1960s, caste and ethnicity remain the basis for continued and widespread marginalisation. Nepal has undergone huge political and constitutional shifts since the 1950s, moving from a Rana family autocracy, to harsh nationalism under the Panchayat regime, to multi-party democracy quickly followed by the 10 year long Maoist 'People's War', a Royal palace massacre, and finally the establishment of Nepal as a secular, democratic, federal, republican state in 2008. Nepal is currently establishing a new federal structure, offering on-going opportunity for Nepal┐s development and people; particularly in light of the devastating 2015 earthquakes.

Nepal is the 16th poorest country in the world and the second poorest in Asia (after Afghanistan), with 23% of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. High unemployment means that about 1,500 Nepalis migrate for work every day to countries such as the Gulf states, Malaysia and India. It comes as no surprise that Nepal has experienced intense attention from the international development community, interested not only in promoting economic development but in addressing social inequalities and governance. Given that most Nepalis live in rural areas and practice subsistence agriculture and land-based activities for a living, much international development work has an environmental focus, from agriculture in the face of climate change to water management and irrigation, from energy provision to disaster management, and from community forestry to protected area management and conservation. Urban populations are expanding rapidly, bringing additional challenges in cities and major towns; whilst out-migration from rural areas is altering the ways in which communities engage with their environments across rural Nepal. Endogenous civil society, social movements, scholars and activists are also hugely active across Nepal, although typically enjoy far less power and influence when brought together with international actors, who dominate negotiations, such as those over the operalisation of REDD+ in Nepal. The interplay of these Nepali environments and actors - from rural farmers and marginalised communities, to grassroots organisations and international agencies - along with their agendas, narratives and programmes of action, will provide students a fascinating case-study through which to understand more about the lived experiences, struggles and contradictions of environment and development in practice.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Development: Principles and Practices (PGGE11211)
Co-requisites Students MUST also take: Understanding Environment and Development (PGGE11187)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is only available to students enrolled on the MSc in Environment & Development.
Additional Costs The programme fees will cover the cost of travel, accommodation and subsistence on the study tour, although students will meet incidental/personal expenses during the study tour.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 10, Fieldwork Hours 80, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 106 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The assessment is composed of two elements:

1. Group presentation of small group research projects (50% of total weight); the presentation will involve the students, in their small groups, reporting on the development of their research projects, its findings and tentative discussion of its contributions; this will be presented in Nepal to local stakeholders and collaborators, as well as UoE staff.

2. Independent Reflective Field Diary (50% of total mark); this encourages students to reflect on the trip, its connections to academic debate, and their own experiences in ┐the field┐; it will include attention to positionality, ethics and the student┐s own learning experience.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically reflect upon their experience in the global South and appreciate the challenges posed by research in such context, and related research ethics.
  2. Have an appreciation for qualitative and quantitative research methods in the field of environment and development and display an advanced grasp of a range of subjects including the ability to: a) use geographical theories and methods to design and undertake primary research in the global South; b) Collect, analyse and critically interpret primary and secondary data; c) structure conceptual and empirical geographical material into a reasoned argument.
  3. Have a critical grasp of development in practice.
  4. Have a deeper appreciation of the key issues faced by socio-ecological systems in the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas.
Reading List
- Elizabeth Enslin (2014) While the Gods Were Sleeping: A Journey Through Love and Rebellion in Nepal. Seal Press. (an easy read and great introduction to Nepali culture and society as seen through the eyes and personal experiences of American anthropologist married to a Nepali man who goes to live in rural Nepal and have a family; includes nice reflection on the role of research and international development, and nuanced insight into power and influence in village Nepal)*

- Manjushree Thapa (2013) Forget Kathmandu: An Elegy for Democracy. Aleph Book Company. (a great introduction to current-day Nepal, starting from the beginning of the monarchy, through the early democratic movements and the Maoist People┐s War, to the present; based on memoir, reportage, travelogue and analysis)*

- Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2012) Decolonizing Methodologies. Research and Indigenous Peoples. Second Edition. Zed Books. (great book which pushes us to rethink research in the global south in order to promote equality)

- Lunn J. (ed.) (2014) Fieldwork in the Global South. Ethical challenges and dilemmas. Routledge. (written by students and early career researchers to share and help create learning around how to negotiate the inevitable ethical dilemmas experienced whilst doing research specifically in the global south)

- Flowerdew R. & Martin D. (eds.) (2005) Methods in Human Geography. A guide for students doing a research project. Second edition. Pearson Education. (great introductory text for social science methods written specifically for students)

- Sumner A. & Tribe M. (2008) International Development Studies. Theories and Methods in Research and Practice. Sage. (accessible book focused specifically on research on international development)

- Laws S., Harper C. & Marcus R. (2003) Research for Development. A Practical Guide. Sage. (as above, but with more engaged and practical examples for in the field with limited resources and when conducting research in another language)

- Philips R. & Johns J. (2012) Fieldwork for Human Geography. Sage. (how to make the most of a university field trip!)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsResearch Methods,Environment,Development,Fieldwork
Course organiserDr Samantha Staddon
Course secretaryMrs Paula Escobar
Tel: (0131 6)50 2543
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