Department of Geography and Development Studies, University of Chester
Chester - Main campus; fieldwork at all Levels
Undergraduate Modular Programme
Full-time and Part-time
Classroom / Laboratory,
3 years full-time
Annual - September
Geography and International Development
Geography (QAA, 2007)
Geography and Development Studies
Wednesday 1st May 2013
The aims of the Single Honours Geography programme are to:
be a thought-provoking, research-orientated and progressive programme of study, which meets national subject benchmarking and the UK Quality Code for HE requirements;
allow students to explore both the physical and human dimensions of geography, as well as the connections between the two, with the opportunity to specialise in particular areas of interest at Levels 5 and 6;
facilitate an understanding of the changing nature of geography as an academic discipline, and an appreciation of the potential role of the subject in addressing contemporary social and environmental problems;
encourage an informed concern about the Earth and its people, an understanding of one's place in wider systems, and a recognition and respect for diversity;
facilitate an understanding and application of techniques for the collection, analysis and presentation of geographical data, including through field-based research
provide a significant range of teaching and assessment experiences, with an emphasis on active, collaborative, enquiry-led learning;
embed key skills provision clearly within modules, including the use of computing, communications and information technologies;
encourage the development of reflective students, as the basis for increasingly independent, self-directed, ethically-aware and critical learners;
through all of the above, as well as meaningful guidance about careers and postgraduate opportunities, develop the employability of our students
Knowledge and Understanding Comprehension of the causes and consequences of spatial variation in a wide range of physical and human environments Critical understanding of a wide range of biophysical and human processes and their geographical distributions Awareness and understanding of human impacts on the environment and the reciprocal relationships between human and physical worlds Critical understanding of the theory and application of sustainable development and a reasoned concern about the Earth and its peoples Comprehension of the central significance of spatial and temporal scale to geographical understanding Critical understanding of the application of a wide range of geographical concepts and techniques to problems and situations Critical understanding of the changing nature of the discipline and its various approaches Thinking or Cognitive Skills Assess the merits of contrasting geographical theories, explanations and approaches Abstract, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a wide range of sources Construct a sustained and reasoned argument, articulating personal perspectives when appropriate Practical Skills Undertake field-based research in an effective manner including careful consideration of both ethical and health and safety issues Implement, and evaluate the merits of, a wide range of approaches for the collection of information in human and/or physical geography Demonstrate and assess a wide range of methods for the analysis of data sets in human and/or physical geography, including the safe use of laboratory facilities Present geographical information accurately using a wide range of methods, including mapping, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches Produce well structured research reports, using appropriate conventions for the presentation of quantitative and qualitative information
Understand the principles, and demonstrate the application of, geographical information systems and remote sensing for the analysis and presentation of geographical data Key Skills
Application of Number
Information Literacy and Technology
Improving own learning and performance
Working with others
Communicate geographical ideas and information clearly and concisely in writing Discuss and debate geographical ideas and information effectively with both peers and tutors Communicate geographical ideas and information by means of clear and concise formal oral presentations, using informative visual aids when appropriate Collect, summarise concisely and analyse numerical data, using statistical techniques as necessary Use information technology proficiently to find, analyse and present geographical information Demonstrate an ability to identify, evaluate and propose answers/solutions to complex problems, including application of reasoned decision-making to ethical problems Demonstrate an active, autonomous and confident approach to study Work effectively with others, sometimes over an extended period of time, including through negotiation of common goals Demonstrate an ability to reflect critically on personal progress and abilities, and to set short term learning targets, partly in the context of career planning Transferable Professional Skills All the skills and knowledge outcomes listed above are transferable, to a greater or lesser extent, to a professional context.
The programme structure is progressive and aligned with the Quality Code for HE - Part A (QAA, 2011). This enables students, over time, to understand and critically evaluate increasingly sophisticated ideas and concepts, to apply more complex analytical techniques, to clearly communicate arguments and reasoned personal perspectives in a greater number of ways and to display increasing levels of autonomy.
In summary, Level 4 provides a broad-based introduction to the key dimensions of physical and human geography, international development issues and core study and research skills. Level 5 provides the first opportunity to specialise towards physical or human geography, whilst maintaining a strong core skills (including Geographical Information Systems - GIS) and research strand, as well as a distinctive experiential learning option. The final year is characterised by an independent research project and a range of optional modules. The following paragraphs expand on this structure in more detail.
There are six 20 credit compulsory modules at Level 4. ‘Introduction to Physical Geography and Geology' (GE4001) and ‘Introduction to Human Geography' (GE4002) are designed to introduce students to the central themes and issues which underpin these two traditional parts of the discipline. ‘Introduction to World Development' (GE4005) aims to develop an awareness of global inequality and exclusion, its underlying processes and the key theoretical approaches to development. ‘People, Hazards and Resources' (GE4006) also has a strong international development dimension, but focusing more on the relationship between people and earth. These four modules are supported and complemented by ‘Foundations for Successful Studentship' (GE4003) and the ‘Tutorial' (GE4004) modules. The former represents a critical element of the Level 4 programme, aiming to facilitate a smooth transition to study in Higher Education by exploring the purpose and culture of Universities as well as core study and research skills, including fieldwork. The tutorials represent a more individualised and smaller scale learning experience providing the opportunity to explore topics of relevance to contemporary geography.
The ‘bedrock' of the Level 5 experience is two 40 credit modules - with one broadly enhancing the knowledge base of students; the other focusing more explicitly on research and further skills development. All students choose between ‘Themes in Physical Geography' (GE5009) and ‘Exploring Human Geography' (GE5002), therefore providing the opportunity to become more specialised. ‘Researcher Development with Geomatics' (GE5013) develops on the initial research experiences provided in GE4003 and guides students towards a wider range of research methods and approaches to project design, to ensure students are well prepared for independent project work at Level 6. The Geomatics strand provides students with a firm grounding in the vocationally-relevant skills of GIS and Remote Sensing. Additionally, the 20 credit ‘Tutorial' module (GE5006) studies the identity, role and value of geography as an academic discipline as part of a wider review of the history and evolution of the subject. The module also encourages students to explore the links between different aspects of their learning experiences and reflect in more detail on their personal progression and development as geographers. The six-week block of time devoted to Experiential Learning at the end of Level 5 represents a very distinctive element of the University of Chester experience. Students choose between a number of 20 credit options including the centrally administered Work-Based Learning module (WB5101), providing the opportunity to gain useful experience of relevant employment in one of a wide range of public and private sector organisations. Alternatively students may use the WBL opportunity to gain direct experience of international development issues (WB5004). Single Honours Geography students with an interest in advancing their field-based skills can select ‘Fieldwork Applications' (GE5008), choosing between residential fieldwork in Southern Spain or New York.
All students in the final year are expected to complete a Dissertation (GE6001) based on a topic of their choice. In exceptional circumstances students may be allowed to complete an Independent Project (GE6002) instead. Beyond this research experience, students are required to select from a range of optional modules which cover more specialised subject knowledge and/or skills and techniques. A number of these modules purposefully take advantage of the holistic nature of the discipline and embrace both physical and human geographical themes, e.g. ‘Sustainable Futures' (GE6006).
QAA recognised Access to HE Diploma (must include Geography or Environmental Science at Level 3), Open College Units or Open University Credits
OCR National Extended/Diploma: merit profile plus one of the GCE A level subjects listed above
The Advanced Diploma: acceptable in combination with one of the GCE A Level subjects listed above Welsh Baccalaureate (core) will be recognised in our tariff offer.
Close attention has been paid to the Geography benchmark statement (QAA, 2007) in reviewing the programme's aims and learning outcomes, knowledge and skills content, methods of learning and teaching, and assessment strategy. There has been a particular focus on 'mapping' module learning outcomes against the Geography benchmark requirements.
In summary, the programme team is confident that Single Honours Geography addresses all of the key Knowledge and Understanding and Skills-based benchmark statements through its teaching and learning and assessment activities. However, it is also acknowledged that in a pattern of provision that offers choice, both in terms of modules and self-directed research projects, students will, over time, develop a greater understanding and mastery of some of these benchmarks more than others.
A stated aim of the Single Honours Geography programme is to provide a range of learning and teaching experiences, partly in recognition of the inevitable diversity of learning styles, backgrounds, abilities and special requirements within most cohorts of students. This aligns well with the requirements of the Quality Code for HE – Part B3 (QAA, 2012). The list below is indicative of the variety of learning and teaching methods employed.
1. Lectures - a key component of many modules, providing the opportunity to highlight central themes and content, and reinforce key information. However, they represent only the ‘starting point' and students are required to take significant responsibility for their own learning. The remaining approaches listed below place a strong emphasis on active student learning, working in groups, with each other, and in partnership with tutors.
2. Practical activities - many modules, particularly at Levels 4 and 5, have a weekly practical element, providing the opportunity to explore, discuss and apply key concepts and methods.
3. One-to-one, tutorial and larger group discussions - these provide the opportunity to examine issues and topics in more depth, a forum for reflective discussions and personal development planning, as well as focused guidance for independent research project work.
4. Fieldwork - an integral part of the Single Honours Geography experience that provides many useful learning opportunities, including the exploration of new places, problem-solving activities, independent and group research projects and the application of theoretical ideas and data collection techniques.
5. Work-based learning - all students have the option of completing a placement in a public or private sector organisation in the final part of Level 5. This consists of a five-week placement. The focus on self-awareness and reflection in the assessment of this module makes it a very distinctive learning opportunity.
6. Technology-enhanced learning – technology is used to enhance teaching and support student learning in a wide variety of ways, including through the use of tutor- and student-authored podcasts, discussions boards, social networking tools, mobile data collection devices, and online module resources/activities.
7. Directed reading - a pivotal element of the learning process, supported by reading lists for all modules, including significant use of e-journals and e-books.
It is recognised that assessment is a pivotal part of the student learning experience (Quality Code for HE – Part B6, QAA, 2011). All module descriptors provide key information on the assessment exercises to be completed, and indicate their relationship to the module learning outcomes. At Level 4, the assessment strategy is focused around relatively frequent, small scale, assignments to provide students with developmental feedback and a sense of progression, moving towards more extended pieces of works at Levels 5 and 6. There are frequent opportunities for formative feedback (both from tutors and peer-to-peer) due to the year-long modular structure, including allowing students to present plans/drafts of summative assignments. Feedback on summative assignments is, of course, critical to the learning process and students receive written comments and/or audio feedback for all coursework. Group feedback sessions are also used for more substantial pieces of work, providing tutors the opportunity to present verbal commentaries on the strengths and weaknesses of student work as a whole.
Diversity of assessment type is a defining feature of the Single Honours Geography programme, a strategy which seems to be well received by students. The development of employability skills is also a key concern in assessment design. Almost all modules are assessed using more than one method - a combination of coursework and examination, or a combination of different coursework types. The list below provides a broad overview of summative assessment methods:
The programme learning outcomes and the coverage of benchmarking requirements provide a clear indication of the key characteristics of a good (Upper Second Class Honours or above) graduate who has completed the Single Honours Geography programme. Such a graduate will have acquired a wide range of knowledge and transferable skills and will therefore have the capacity to compete effectively in the employment market or apply successfully for a place on a postgraduate course. Furthermore, embedded careers and employability guidance has been an important feature of the Single Honours Geography programme since its inception. The Department of Geography and Development Studies negotiates an annual Partnership Agreement with the University's Careers and Employability Service, which underpins an effective working relationship. Bespoke careers guidance and activity sessions are provided within modules at all Levels and this is supported by significant on-line resources.
The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.
The Department of Geography and Development Studies has developed each programme and module in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning. Much of the subject matter in Geography naturally affords a range of cultural perspectives and this is particularly so within the Human Geography modules throughout the programme, for example GE4002 Introduction to Human Geography, which is designed to encourage students to consider diversity and equality both practically and theoretically. A global perspective on diversity and equality is also encouraged, starting with GE4005 Introduction to World Development.
The Department of Geography and Development Studies works closely with Student Support and Guidance and Disability Support to provide for the needs of students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds. This involves flexibility in the delivery of teaching and the design of materials to support all students. The induction week and first year activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to provide development opportunities which give all students an equal chance of succeeding. Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. Anonymous marking enhances equal opportunity to all students.
Currently, compulsory residential fieldwork is funded by the University; optional residential fieldwork (e.g. ‘Fieldwork Applications’ (GE5008) and the Norway expedition) is subsidised by the University but requires a student contribution towards the cost of running the learning experience. Detail on these costs is available from the Department of Geography & Development Studies, and is drawn to the attention of applicants on Visit Days and to registered students at the time of making module choices. The University occasionally provides bursaries to support student participation in overseas learning experiences.
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