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GEOG280 Engaging with People and Place: Doing Geographical Research

Provides first-hand experience of working in and with communities to inquire about, analyse, and communicate local sustainability challenges and solutions, and equips you with essential skills for your future work.

In this paper, you will be working with local community groups on local sustainability challenges and solutions. This 18-point paper introduces you to two main methods used in geographical research: interviews and surveys. The paper is very hands-on and will involve small groups of students working with members of our community in the University of Otago vicinity. The paper will equip you with a wide range of skills, (e.g. team work, oral and written communication, problem solving), which will be valuable both whilst you are at the University and also afterwards in your career. These are crucial transferable skills that will enable you to gain first-hand experience of working in and with communities, doing research, communicating your findings and contributing to a more just and sustainable world.  For many students it is their favourite paper in second year and many of the student projects have informed policies and projects in local government and at the University of Otago.

Paper title Engaging with People and Place: Doing Geographical Research
Paper code GEOG280
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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GEOG 101 and GEOG 102
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
May not be credited together with SOCI201 passed before 2005.
Enrolments for this paper require departmental permission. View more information about departmental permission.
Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Dr Christina Ergler

Paper Structure

The paper consists of lectures and workshops. Short introduction lectures will introduce geographical concepts and provide the skills in research design, methods, analysis and communicating results. Workshops allow you to put lecture learning to work in relation to group research projects.

The course is 100% internally assessed.

Teaching Arrangements

Two 2-hour workshops per week. At the beginning of the semester, the workshops will consists of lectures and short discussion activities. Later in the semester we move to a combination of short lectures/workshop style sessions for all classes (only a 1-hour clash per week for the workshops will be approved). Independent group meetings - as scheduled. There are two half-day field trips early in the semester to allow you to explore the key geographical concepts in relation to specific places.

Textbooks are not required for this paper. Readings will be selected and prescribed from a range of journals, texts and edited collections. These will be made available through eReserve on Blackboard.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to

  1. Apply key geographical concepts, literatures and methodologies to real-world problems in order to draw insightful and meaningful conclusions that contribute to addressing those problems
  2. Design an appropriate research project to address a specified problem
  3. Communicate research findings both orally and through a written report
  4. Understand research ethics and issues that can arise between researcher and research participants in human geography research
  5. Understand the key principles of social science research

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 13:00-17:50 11


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 14:00-15:50 9-14, 16, 18-22
Wednesday 10:00-11:50 9-14, 16-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 18:00-21:50 22