Our fieldwork philosophy

We believe that fieldwork is integral to geography as a subject which fundamentally aims to understand the world we live in.

Four students study their notes during fieldwork in New Zealand
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Experiential learning underpins and reinforces understanding of theory and concepts gained in the classroom. Fieldwork stimulates academic curiosity, hones observation and measurement skills, exposes students to a range of challenges and processes with global societal importance and allows students to make connections between physical and social processes at a range of scales.

Our fieldwork locations reflect our belief that fascinating geography exists on our doorstep as well as further afield.

Locally

The Department of Geography is located in an amazing natural laboratory where students have the opportunity to explore, study and learn about the physical landscape of the Peak District National Park, the rich cultural and social heritage of Sheffield, and environmental processes and issues across the region.

Academic staff have recently developed a series of zero-credit field classes which allow students to develop practical skills in the complex environment of Sheffield and the Peak District. Crucially, these classes are available for all students and provide local, low-carbon ways to gain experience in the field.

Students are able to dip in and out, choosing the field trips they find most interesting, and the focus is on learning to identify, critically interpret and discuss geographical concepts, processes and phenomena in the field, with the stress and burden of assessments removed.

Within the UK

We run day trips to Spurn Point and the Humber Estuary to investigate coastal processes and management. Students also get the opportunity to spend the day volunteering at a local co-operative, getting involved in community activities such as gardening, brewing and cooking. We also run four and five-day trips to explore experimental ways of seeing urban geographies in Liverpool and the glacial, geological and environmental processes that have shaped the beautiful Lake District.

Internationally

Students have the opportunity to study the impacts of earthquakes and melting glaciers in New Zealand, dryland, fluvial and coastal process in southern Spain, grass-root development issues in Uganda, and rural and urban geographies in Morocco.


At Level 1 you will learn and apply essential field skills such as qualitative techniques, environmental sampling and laboratory analyses in Sheffield and the surrounding Peak District. This includes a 3-day residential field class to the Peak District early in the first semester that also helps you to get to know staff and your fellow students.

  • Peak District Residential (Edale) - 3 days (included in fees)
  • Exploring the Peak District (L1) - series of half-day trips (included in fees)

At Level 2 you will be introduced to more advanced techniques and have the opportunity to develop and apply your research skills in an international location such as Morocco, Spain or Ireland - depending on your course.

  • Exploring the Peak District (L2) - series of half-day trips (included in fees)
  • Morocco Field Class - 1 week (included in fees)
  • Spain Field Class - 1 week (included in fees)
  • Environmental Interpretation Field Class (Ireland) - 1 week (included in fees)

At Level 3 optional fieldwork provides advanced, in-depth experiences in locations such as New Zealand, Uganda, Liverpool and the Lake District. Many of these include group data gathering and independent research projects, allowing you to develop crucial transferable skills, as well as specific subject knowledge.

  • Exploring the Peak District (L3) - series of half-day trips (included in fees)
  • New Zealand Field Class - 2 weeks
  • Uganda Field Class - 1 week
  • Coastal Systems: Processes and Management (Spurn Point & Humber Estuary) - day trip (included in fees)
  • Critical Ecologies - day trip (included in fees)
  • Urban Exploration (Liverpool) - 4 days
  • Lake District Field Class - 5 days

Costs

All of our core field classes at Levels 1 and 2 are included in the price of the University tuition fees. Optional field classes at Level 3 are not included in the fees; to be inclusive as possible we run trips at a range of prices, and also provide financial support for students via our departmental scholarship scheme.

Costs for optional field classes vary depending on a number of factors, including but not limited to destination and the number of students participating.

Current estimated costs for 2019/20 vary between £150 - £2,400 per student, depending on location. Some factors which may impact on the cost of field trips are beyond our control such as airline fare increases. We try to keep the costs as low as possible and to inform students as early as possible of the cost of any optional field trips they have planned to take.

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