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The University of Southampton

ENVS3011 Environmental Field Studies

Module Overview

The unit comprises a series of introductory lectures and a field exercise of one-week duration. Students are required to design and execute a group project of their own choice chosen from a broad range of topics including terrestrial and aquatic ecology, aquatic chemistry, physical geography (including management of rivers and coasts), ocean and earth sciences, marine biology, and the human impacts on the natural environment, conservation, waste management, energy, transport, rural & urban planning and sustainability. Introductory lectures will consolidate training in project design, project management, data collection, data analysis and presentation. In addition, the unit will introduce elements of technical writing and journal authorship.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The need for both a multi-disciplinary and an interdisciplinary approach in advancing knowledge and understanding of Earth systems, drawing, as appropriate, from the natural and the social sciences
  • The processes which shape the natural world at different temporal and spatial scales and their influence on and by human activities
  • The terminology, nomenclature and classification systems used in environmental science
  • Methods of acquiring, interpreting and analysing environmental science information with a critical understanding of the appropriate contexts for their use
  • Issues concerning the availability and sustainability of resources, for example, the different value sets relating to the Earth's resources as commodities and/or heritage
  • The contribution of environmental science to debate on environmental issues and how knowledge of these forms the basis for informed concern about the Earth and its people
  • The contribution of environmental science to the development of knowledge of the world we live in
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Recognising and using subject-specific theories, paradigms, concepts and principles
  • Analysing, synthesising and summarising information critically, including prior research
  • Collecting and integrating several lines of evidence to formulate and test hypotheses
  • Applying knowledge and understanding to complex and multidimensional problems in familiar and unfamiliar contexts
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Receiving and responding to a variety of information sources (e.g. textual, numerical, verbal, graphical).
  • Developing the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (e.g. working independently, time management and organisation skills)
  • Identifying and working towards targets for personal, academic and career development
  • Developing an adaptable and flexible approach to study and work
  • Communicating appropriately to a variety of audiences in written, verbal and graphical forms
  • Appreciating issues of sample selection, accuracy, precision and uncertainty during collection, recording and analysis of data in the field and laboratory
  • Preparing, processing, interpreting and presenting data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and packages including geographic information systems
  • Recognising the moral and ethical issues of investigations and appreciating the need for professional codes of conduct
  • Solving numerical problems using computer and non-computer-based techniques
  • Using the internet critically as a means of communication and a source of information
  • Identifying individual and collective goals and responsibilities and performing in a manner appropriate to these roles
  • Recognising and respecting the views and opinions of other team members
  • Evaluating performance as an individual and a team member
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Planning, conducting, and reporting on environmental investigations, including the use of secondary data
  • Collecting, recording and analysing data using appropriate techniques in the field and laboratory
  • Undertaking field and laboratory investigations in a responsible and safe manner, paying due attention to risk assessment, rights of access, relevant health and safety regulations, and sensitivity to the impact of investigations on the environment and stakeholders
  • Referencing work in an appropriate manner


The taught component of the unit comprises a series of introductory lectures in preparation for a field exercise of one-week duration. Lecture topics include: Describing Research Rationale An examination of Aims and Objectives when designing Environmental Research Defining the Conceptual and Theoretical Research Framework Approaches undertaken in Environmental Research Designing Methodologies Equipment needs Data acquisition Date analysis Risk Assessment Ethical Implications of Environmental Research Technical Writing Journal Authorship

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The majority of the unit will be delivered in the field via student participation in a group project. Individual group projects are supported by supervision and support from lecturing staff. Key elements are supported by advance lecture sessions. Teaching and supervision will be delivered by the Unit Co-ordinator and by contributions from staff from the Faculty Engineering and the Environment. Learning activities consist of: - Attendance at pre fieldwork lectures. - Design and execution of group field project. - Self-directed learning - supplementary and complementary taught materials. - Private study - research for and preparation of unit assignment.

Completion of assessment task26
Wider reading or practice30
Follow-up work50
Preparation for scheduled sessions7
Total study time127

Resources & Reading list

Laboratory space and equipment required. Appropriate field equipment in working order with technical maintenance, preparation and assistance commensurate with undergraduate work in the Environmental Sciences.



MethodPercentage contribution
Group presentation 10%
Individual Journal Article 80%
Project proposal 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: ENVS1004 and ENVS1005 and ENVS1006 and ENVS1007 and ENVS2006 and ENVS2007 and ENVS2008


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

You will need to provide and wear your own suitable clothing when attending field courses, e.g. waterproofs, walking boots. You can purchase these from any source and costs will vary depending on your preference. You will be expected to purchase your own lunch and any additional refreshments. (clothing)

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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