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The University of Southampton

GEOG3066 Environmental Sensing for Real World Geomorphological Challenges

Module Overview

This course seeks to make use of innovative and cutting edge technologies in the field of Earth surface process monitoring to address the real world challenges encountered by commercial and/or governmental organisations. Students on this module will tackle a real world geomorphological challenge using novel monitoring and processing techniques. The nature of the challenge set will vary between cohorts depending upon the evolving needs of the client or organisation involved, but examples include flood monitoring, high resolution monitoring of coastal environments and riverine pollutant monitoring. Students will gain a scientific understanding of the geomorphological system of interest which will underpin their approach to how best to tackle the problem in hand. The module will make use of technology such as Unmanned Airborne Vehicles, Terrestrial Laser Scanners. differential Global Positioning Systems and other survey techniques, alongside state of the art processing methods such as structure from motion and point cloud differencing. Students will work in teams to analyse the challenge, devise a theoretical solution and ultimately field test it. Teams will work with an awareness of budgetary constraints set by the client (for development and for the overall operational cost of the proposed solution). Teams will maintain a web based (but not initially public in the interests of protecting the intellectual property of the proposed ideas) blog outlining the thought process behind the development of a solution.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Liaise with a client to work to a project brief and deliver a report pertinent to their requirements.
  • Work in groups to collect, process and analyse large volumes of complex data.
  • Present complex ideas and data using high quality graphics in reports and in oral presentations
  • Plan and deploy state of the art geomatic survey equipment for monitoring dynamic environments
  • Appreciate the geomorphological functioning of a fluvial/coastal system through the application and processing of high resolution process/form data


The course can be split into three key components: 1. The module is front loaded with lectures and practicals which seek to introduce the theory behind and practical use of, environmental sensing equipment. This includes introductions to: differential GPS, Terrestrial Laser Scanning and use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The background lectures are supplemented by hands-on practical sessions which will allow students to practice using the equipment and also process the resulting data using specialist software and tools. Lectures will also be given to present the science behind the geomorphological system of interest. 2. Students will design and undertake fieldwork to collect the data required for them address the client geomorphological challenge. The field data collection will be supported by data processing sessions and drop-in surgeries. Teams will ultimately prepare to deliver a presentation outlining the fieldwork methods and data processing. 3. Finally, individuals will continue to work towards the main report which addresses the brief and which is individually submitted. The report write up is supported by seminars and lectures outlining how to produce publication quality figures and plots.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures: The module will be front loaded with lectures which outline: • ‘The geomorphological challenge’ – scope and commercial aspect of the designated problem given by the ‘client’. • The scientific background to the geomorphology of the proposed challenge. • An introduction to a range of innovative techniques, both data acquisition and processing, which groups could chose to explore in their development of a solution. Practical seminars: Supporting the lectures will be a series of ‘hands-on’ practical classes aimed at developing skills in deployment of specialist equipment and associated processing methods. Team planning meetings: Formal fieldwork planning sessions will involve the team and support staff meeting with the course convenor to discuss progress, ideas and problems. This is your opportunity to get feedback on your ideas as you go and as such the assumption is made that you will be meeting regularly between these formal meetings to progress your geomorphological challenge solution Field work: Teams will have the opportunity to test their ideas in the field following the development of a theoretical concept. All of the teams will be given the opportunity to collect data using their proposed solution at the client’s field site. This will provide a final set of data from which you can refine and adjust your proposed solution as appropriate for submission in the client report.

Independent Study120
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Blog 5%
Group presentation  (15 minutes) 25%
Report  (3000 words) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: GEOG2010

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