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Fieldwork

Most of our BA programmes contain a number of fieldwork opportunities. We believe that fieldwork is vital to expose students to a wider range of settings, both cultural and physical; to teach important skills in data collection and analysis; and to bring together students to build relationships.

Because Birkbeck is special in catering particularly for students who have work or caring responsibilities, all our compulsory field trips are within the UK. In addition to our compulsory trips, a number of our optional modules are taught at least partly in the field. For compulsory field trips, the Department of Geography covers all costs apart from student travel to the starting location. For optional field trips, students cover their full costs themselves.

COMPULSORY FIELDWORK

In the first year of your programme, you will attend two day trips in the autumn term, associated with the level 4 modules Humans and the Environment and Introduction to Spatial Thinking. These run over the same weekend, with a night away on Saturday. (For part-time students they can be attended in two separate years when the modules are studied).

We also run trips within London for both level 4 and level 5 modules.

We also run a weekend field class in Norfolk in the summer of year 1 as the final part of the level 4 module Introducing Natural Environments (compulsory for BSc Geography and BSc Environment and Sustainability programmes).

OPTIONAL FIELDWORK

Students can apply to take part in optional modules that involve a wider range of field trip options. Option modules that include a fieldwork component (this can change from year to year) have included:

RESEARCH APPLICATIONS IN HUMAN GEOGRAPHY – DELHI FIELD PROJECT 

  • This Delhi Field Project aims to introduce you to issues of globalisation, urbanisation and economic development while providing the opportunity to apply research methods in the field. The main fieldwork component will take place during the spring term. The field trip will focus on the city of Delhi, to examine urban redevelopment, new global industries, cultural change with a focus on gender, and creative interventions in the city to manage processes of change.
  • The cost of the Delhi trip to each individual student is approximately £1,000 - £1,300.
  • The number of places available on the trip will be capped at 16, including a designated number of places for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Registration for this option will only commence in the first week of the Autumn term. Priority will be given to students studying on programmes in the Department of Geography, and the MSc Global Environmental Politics and Policy programme. A waiting list will operate once 16 places have been filled.
  • Due to conditions in Delhi, this field trip may not be accessible for all students. Please contact the module coordinator before registering if you would like to discuss this further.

STORMS, SEAS AND RIVERS (MALLORCA)

  • In this module, we study how water moves through porous materials (namely soil) and how this relates to rainfall and runoff generation. The largest component is a five-day residential field trip in Mallorca, exploring hydrology in semi-arid environments. There is also a one-day field trip in the UK, exploring how hydrological processes form an important control on slope stability, through the example of cliff failure and shoreline retreat.
  • The cost of the Mallorca trip to each individual student is approximately £500.

FIELDWORK SAFETY

Fieldwork is an activity involving inherent risks and hazards - e.g. coastal exposure, quarries, river sections, power stations, farms, and some urban areas. The Department of Geography is committed to ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of both student participants and staff members during fieldwork.

In order to ensure adequate control of health and safety risks during fieldwork, staff within the Department, carry out a risk assessment in close coordination with other parties at Birkbeck, University of London. This ensures that potential risks are minimised and that contingency plans are in place in the event of an (unlikely) accident.

A fieldwork safety guide provides important information for students undertaking fieldwork. The document Fieldwork Safety Guide describes the safety guidelines that are relevant to the Department of Geography field trips, provides information and instruction to students, and details the responsibilities of the student for their health and safety. The guide also contains appendices of forms and procedural information.