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GEOG380 Field Research Studies

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Field research methods, analytical techniques and report writing.

GEOG 380 is the capstone paper for the BA, BSc and BAppSc degrees in Geography and Environmental Management. The paper is a group-based research experience that involves students in the conceptualisation of a research question, design of an appropriate methodology, undertaking data collection, data analysis and reporting the results verbally and in writing.

Paper title Field Research Studies
Paper code GEOG380
Subject Geography
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Full Year (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,110.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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GEOG 280 or GEOG 290
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Science
Enrolments for this paper require departmental permission. View more information about departmental permission.
Teaching staff

GEOG 380 Arts Co-ordinator: Associate Professor Sophie Bond
GEOG 380 Sciences Co-ordinator: Dr Ralf Ohlemüller

Paper Structure

GEOG 380 Arts:
The paper is taught through a combination of regular meetings and discussion forums, library work, self-directed reading, group work and a staff-supervised field school. Each staff member is responsible for posing a research problem that is then developed into a focused project by students working in a small group. Groups will be arranged in the second week of the first semester.

Once you have joined a group, you will operate as a member of this group throughout the research process until you prepare your individual final report. Your group will meet regularly with your assigned staff member through the first and second semester. There will be time during the discussion forums to meet up with your group supervisor. However, there might be times when you need additional meetings with your supervisors. Your group will also meet independently during the discussion forums or independently through the week. Group meeting times are decided by the group and attendance at and constructive participation in such meetings are compulsory.

GEOG 380 Arts is 100% internally assessed.

In the early part of the first semester, groups will undertake a literature search, locate resources and plan their fieldwork. In May, we will go into the field to collect primary data. Groups will then consolidate and analyse their data. Subsequently, in the second semester, each student will write up an individual report that will form the major piece of assessment for the paper. Please be aware that the discussion forums will continue in the second semester.

GEOG 380 Sciences:
GEOG 380 is an 18-point paper that will be the culmination of your BSc in Physical Geography or BAppSc in Environmental Management. Alternatively, for those who plan to undertake a postgraduate degree, GEOG 380 will be a significant milestone in preparation for your fourth year of study.

The paper requires students to work in small groups to design, conduct and report on a research project in physical geography. With the support of a staff member, each group will need to develop a research proposal, plan and complete field data collection, perform analysis of the data and write a report based on the research that has been undertaken. There is a short programme of workshops to help achieve the course objectives.

The GEOG 380 (Sciences) experience combines both group and individual work elements. The research design, data collection and analysis are done as a group. Groups will also make oral presentations to rest of the class based on their findings. As individuals you will prepare and present a literature-based assignment, a final report and a critique of the research experience.

GEOG 380 Science is 100% internally assessed.

Teaching Arrangements
Two different streams of activity exist within the paper: a stream for BA students that involves a residential field school in the South Island and a stream for BSc and BAppSc students that involves the design of a project that will be undertaken independently.

The independent nature of the field activities requires group participants to take responsibility for logistics planning. Field work in the BSc and BAppSc is usually undertaken in a variety of South Island locations appropriate for the research topic and methodology.

GEOG 380 Arts:
A textbook is not required for the paper, but it is highly recommended to look at:

  • Cooper, P. 2015: A student's intro to geographic thought. Theories, Philosophies, Methodologies. London: Sage
  • Hay, I. (ed.), 2016: Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography. Melbourne: Oxford University Press

GEOG 380 Sciences:
The recommended reading for this paper is:

  • Lee, J.A. (2000). The Scientific Endeavor

Although useful, it is not essential to purchase a copy as the book is available through the Library.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

GEOG 380 Arts:
The objectives of the paper are to

  1. Examine the process of defining a research problem
  2. Recognise the appropriateness of alternative approaches to research
  3. Develop skills in methods of data collection and analysis appropriate to field research
  4. Employ these methods to examine a specific research problem
  5. Recognise the strengths and weaknesses of different field research methods
  6. Demonstrate critical thinking and knowledge of geography as a disciplinary lens for undertaking research
  7. Develop skills in team problem solving and project management
  8. Organise and communicate research findings via oral presentations and conventional research report formats
  9. Practise ethical research and health and safety procedures in a field context

Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to

  1. Appreciate the complexity in identifying an appropriate research problem
  2. Articulate an appropriate research question, bearing in mind resource constraints
  3. Select, implement and evaluate appropriate methods of data collection and analysis
  4. Successfully collaborate with members of a small group
  5. Recognise and attain professional standards in writing a report and verbal presentation
  6. Adopt high ethical standards in undertaking research
  7. Recognise and implement appropriate health and safety procedures

GEOG 380 Sciences:
The paper is designed to prepare you for employment and for postgraduate study in Geography. Consequently, we require you to achieve professional standards in all aspects of your work, including collaborating effectively with your group members, meeting deadlines, gaining permits and permissions, liaising with agencies and landowners, and communicating the results of your research.

Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to

  • Critically analyse literature
  • Articulate testable hypotheses
  • Design an appropriate research strategy
  • Select appropriate data acquisition and analysis techniques
  • Collect and analyse data
  • Effectively communicate research design and findings both orally and in writing

Assessment for both the GEOG 380 Arts and GEOG 380 Science streams are 100% internally assessed

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Full Year

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Monday 08:00-18:50 19
Monday 13:00-14:50 28-31
Monday 15:00-16:50 9-15, 18, 20-22
Tuesday 08:00-18:50 19
Wednesday 08:00-18:50 19
Thursday 08:00-18:50 19
Friday 08:00-18:50 19
Friday 15:00-16:50 37
A2 Wednesday 16:00-16:50 9-13
Friday 15:00-15:50 29
Friday 16:00-16:50 9