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Fieldwork one

Undergraduate Fieldwork Opportunities in the Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies

The BSc Geography, BSc Environmental Management and BSc Development and Globalisation programmes all 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, GEDS 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 Basic Principles of GIS. These run over the same weekend, with a night away on the Saturday. (For part-time students they can be attended in two separate years when the modules are studied).

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

Fieldwork three


We also run a weekend field class in Norfolk in the summer of year 1 as preparation for our level 5 module Environmental Processes (compulsory for BSc Geography and BSc Environmental Management programmes).

Optional modules

Optional fieldwork

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

Urban Studies – New York City Field Project (from 2017/18)

  • This New York City Field Project aims to introduce students to urban development and associated processes of socio-spatial inequality with reference to a major global city. The underpinning thematic focus is the ongoing creation and recreation of urban space and place in relation to social inequalities such as race, ethnicity, class and poverty. Different neighbourhoods of New York City will be visited with a view to highlighting specific aspects of urban development and related socio-spatial inequalities, for example: Ellis Island – migration; SoHo – artist-led gentrification; Harlem – segregation, ghettoisation and gentrification; Long Island – suburbanisation.
  • The cost of the New York trip to each individual student is c. £1,000.
  • New York 1
  • New York 2

Research Applications in Human Geography – Delhi Field Project (from 2017/18)

  • This Delhi Field Project aims to introduce you to issues of globalization, urbanization and economic development while providing the opportunity to apply research methods in the field. The main fieldwork component will take place during spring term. The fieldtrip 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 c. £1,130.
  • Delhi 1
  • Delhi 2

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 c. £500.
  • Storms FW 2

Contemporary Debates in Food and Farming

  • This module introduces you to the key scientific and political contemporary debates in food and farming, using examples from the UK and internationally, from 'feeding the world' to mitigating climate change. It examines the nature and causes of the present global 'food crisis', discusses the challenges facing the current food system and examines different future pathways. It includes a fieldtrip to visit urban sites of food production in London.
  • UA FT 1
  • UA FT 2

Landscape Change: Past and Future

  • This module introduces students to the response of different landscapes to large-scale climatic fluctuations during the Quaternary period (last 2 million years). We look at the driving forces behind landscape changes in response to climate and project these into the future in relation to human-induced climate change. As part of this, we spend a day in the New Forest looking at sediments that were laid down in a large river system that used to flow down the Solent seaway.
  • Fieldwork img 4

Coastal Processes and Management

  • In this module, we examine the processes responsible for the development of wave-dominated and tidally-dominated landforms, and test models of these processes in the laboratory and field. This knowledge of coastal processes and landforms is applied to the investigation of important coastal management and environmental issues on a one day field trip to the South Coast.
  • CM 2015 1
  • CM 2015 2

Ecological Survey and Monitoring

  • This module comprises a one week residential course in Shropshire. Each day includes a mix of lectures, seminars and field exercises. The first part of the course normally focuses on the various approaches to community description and plant monitoring, including quantitative methods and use of the National Vegetation Classification. The second focuses on freshwater with an emphasis on freshwater invertebrates, physical and chemical factors and biological monitoring. The third part deals with terrestrial invertebrates, the range of sampling techniques available and their relevance to habitat quality. The emphasis throughout is on cost-effective survey and monitoring methods appropriate to conservation sites. Students will gain experience in the analysis and interpretation of field data and in planning their own project work.
  • ES FW 1

Conservation management planning

  • This module is comprised of 2 linked weekends, each including UK-based field trips. It focusses on strategic planning for conservation sites, including the ‘theory’ of plans and planning, the information inputs, evaluation procedures and the formulation of management aims and objectives and provides the students with an opportunity to produce their own draft management policies.

Interpretation and education planning

  • This module examines the theory and practice of interpretation. It also looks in detail at the principles and practice of environmental education. Areas covered include the aims and objectives of environmental education, Agenda 21, the National Curriculum, the impact of field trips on the environment, selecting suitable sites, making wildlife and the natural environment interesting, selecting of appropriate activities, the core elements of planning, and different educational styles. Through UK-based field trips, the module is very hands on and students experience first-hand the benefits of learning outdoors, as well as considering the logistics and practical considerations for environmental educators.