Field Course

The Field-Course Module enables Polar and Alpine (PAC) students to learn fieldwork skills during a 4-5 week visit to an alpine or arctic region. Teaching is designed and staffed so that students engage with the scientific agendas of the destination as well as acquire specific practical method/techniques, and gain an understanding of the nature of conducting fieldwork in environments that are intrinsically challenging. Over past years, students with diverse background have told us that they found the field-course experience to be highly valuable and rewarding — they range from those who have never travelled internationally to those who have already done fieldwork.

The typical destination of the Field Course is Svalbard, Norway. Since our department has long-term flourishing research links with the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), the field class benefits from logistical support and accommodation provided by UNIS. The UNIS is located in Longyearbyen, on Spitzbergen. Using this town as base, we launch out on day-trips and longer field camps. Besides tackling a variety of fieldwork exercises that probe different aspects of the environment (e.g. snow and ice, glacier meteorology, hydrology, geochemistry, microbiology, fjord properties), students also conduct a group project, give an oral presentation of its findings, and, later submit an assessed individual report of this project.

The estimated cost of the Field Course typically falls in the range £1,000 - £1,500; the precise amount depends on each year’s field logistics and price fluctuations. The estimate above includes the expense of flights, accommodation, local travel, food and safety precautions, and a necessary fee of enrolling onto the UNIS system. Crucially, we run the field course as an expedition where key costs are shared between participants. Therefore THE FIELD-COURSE COST IS NOT COVERED BY THE UNIVERSITY TUITION FEES, and you must account for it when applying for the programme, and be prepared to fund it during the MSc(Res) year.

Note: The field-course require extensive activities on terrains including wet, hilly, rocky and snow/glacier surfaces, and hence mobility over such terrains. We urge potential applicants who have mobility impairment to discuss their concerns with the Programme Director and whether the field-course could be safely attended or an alternative 15-credit module option be provided in place of the field-course to allow completion of the programme.