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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 aims to develop the practise of Physical Geography through original desk-based research of environmental processes and change. Excursions will provide opportunities for note taking in the field. You will analyse environmental change through the study of spatially references environmental records. Reading relevant research literature and original research work will enable you to apply relevant methodologies, understand different ways in which research questions are tackled and employ a range of research techniques. The course develops themes explored during the courses on Global Change, Geomorphology and The Nature of Geographical Knowledge. We will build on skills you developed in Fundamental Methods in Geography. Developing you project work should complement and support your dissertation work, and looking forwards it should provides an underpinning for Geography Science and Civil Society. You will critically identify and analyse complex problems. You will practise the valuable transferable skills of team working, project design and implementation, autonomy and initiative.

We will stretch your minds with some fascinating questions, we will develop your research skills, work as teams, and go on a journey of scientific discovery together. Travel restrictions permitting, we plan to visit some picturesque areas around Edinburgh rich in both environmental and historical significance, and explore their connections to the distant ¿land of ice and fire¿. Given Scotland¿s autumn weather, we may, after all, encounter a whole season of weather in a single day, so you will still need your field kit.
You will work in teams that you select to refine your research skills by working on a topic that you have chosen. You will generate new knowledge connected to truly fascinating parts of our planet. The scientific challenges of this course remain the same as they have always been, and, with an overarching emphasis on existing data sets, you can still tackle detailed studies utilising original data we have collected in recent years, or rise to the challenge of tackling projects of a much greater regional scale than you could in the field.
We have structured the revised course around your desk based research projects, group work and individual scholarship, and so after an initial introduction we would like you to explore seven themes we have selected and relevant methodologies your will need. Then we want you to choose a topic, and self-organise a group of like-minded fellow students to work with.
We have selected seven broad topics. They are all inspired by research at Edinburgh, they all have the potential to generate new knowledge and first class results. Alternatively, you may wish to propose other ideas broadly related to Icelandic or North Atlantic research developed from your other course work or wider interests, and you are welcome to do so, although we will need to be convinced of their viability.
The ideas we are suggesting are inspired by research questions from geomorphology and glaciology, through biogeography and human-environment interactions. They range from the evaluation of localised phenomena that may occur across large areas of the planet, to phenomena that operate at continental scales.
Unfortunately, we cannot take to you to Iceland, but, as is clear from the themes outlined above, we will use that part of the world as a focus. In addition we plan to use the local area to give you some practical experiences, increase your knowledge of the remarkable area in which we live and work, and explore Scottish connections to the themes we will collectively consider in your projects. Excursion plans are still quite fluid because there may be abrupt changes in the Government and the University Covid-19 guidance.
There is a schedule of learning to structure your involvement with the course. Tuesday 9-11 is principally when we will deliver online materials and hold live group meetings; other group and 1:1 meetings will be arranged at other times of mutual convenience; they may be virtual, or in person. Face to face meetings will probably be held outdoors, so your field clothing will come in useful. Our plan is to use a series of Fridays for excursions that should be clear of other teaching.
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
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, 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 %
Feedback Feedback is a process that will flow throughout the course, from course documents through weekly Q&A sessions, discussion during your two major live presentations, conversations during our three main excursions, in project group and 1:1 meetings, and in written comments related to your project titles (w/c 13th October) research design (w/c 20th October) and data reports (w/c 10th November).
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. have acquired knowledge of: Quaternary environmental change in the N. Atlantic region; the strategic importance of Iceland to the study of global change; case studies of environmental monitoring and reconstruction
  2. have gained experience of: How theory in physical geography can developed through research; scientific field excursions, project implementation, data collection and analysis, team working, oral presentation.
  3. have developed skills in: Team working, project design and implementation, autonomy and initiative; the use of data sets, data identification, location and retrieval; critical assessment, project execution, note taking in the field.
  4. have acquired the ability to design and execute research will be shown by: The identification of a research title and the creation of a research team; writing and presenting a group research design; gathering data, writing and presenting a group data report; writing and individual research report of up to 4,000 words for a summative assessment
Reading List
Recommended reading
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 112, 8, 2355 2360
Björck, S., 1995. A review of the history of the Baltic Sea, 13.0-8.0 ka BP. Quaternary international, 27, pp.19-40.
Buckland, P., Dugmore, A., 1991. ¿If this is a refugium, why are my feet so bloody cold?¿ The origins of the Icelandic biota in the light of recent research. In Environmental change in Iceland: past and present (pp. 107-125). Springer, Dordrecht.
Church, M. J., Dugmore, A. J., et al., 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
Dugmore, A.J., Sugden, D.E., 1991. Do the anomalous fluctuations of Sólheimajökull reflect ice¿divide migration? Boreas, 20(2), 105-113.
Dugmore A.J., et al. 2020. ¿Continuity in the face of a slowly unfolding catastrophe: the persistence of Icelandic settlement despite large-scale soil erosion.¿ In P. Sheets and F. Riede (Eds) Going forward by looking back: Archaeological Perspectives on Socio-Ecological Crisis, Response, and Collapse Berghahn Books
Evans, D.J., Ewertowski, M. and Orton, C., 2017. Skaftafellsjökull, Iceland: glacial geomorphology recording glacier recession since the Little Ice Age. Journal of Maps, 13(2), pp.358-368. J
Jakobsson, M., et al., 2007. Reconstructing the Younger Dryas ice dammed lake in the Baltic Basin: Bathymetry, area and volume. Global and Planetary Change, 57(3-4), pp.355-370.
Johnson, B. G., et al. (2017) A chronology of post¿glacial landslides suggests that slight increases in precipitation could trigger a disproportionate geomorphic response. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 42, no. 14: 2223-2239.
Kjartansson, G., 1967.The Steinholtshlaup, central-south Iceland on January 15th, 1967. Jökull 17, 249-262.
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. 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, 113, 2, 298-303
Száz, D. and Horváth, G., 2018. Success of sky-polarimetric Viking navigation: revealing the chance Viking sailors could reach Greenland from Norway. Royal Society Open Science, 5(4), p.172187.
Thirslund, S. 1997. Sailing directions of the North Atlantic Viking age (from about the year 860 to 1400). The Journal of Navigation, 50(1), 55-64.
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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