Fieldwork in Central and North Wales: Investigating Environmental Processes

Unit code EART10670

Our Investigating Environmental Processes field course provides an opportunity for students to explore a range of natural and human impacted environments in order to further develop and improve understanding of environmental and related geological processes, to develop field based environmental and geological observational and data recording skills, and to improve data interpretation and communication skills
  • When is the fieldtrip?

    The field trip is for 6 days during the Easter vacation in Year 1, with the full 6 days being spent in the field.

    Fieldwork will be from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm each day. Evenings are spent working on classroom activities related to the fieldwork.

  • Where is the fieldtrip?

    You will be staying at the Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth in the mid-Wales' Dyfi Valley for three nights and at Plas Menai, The National Watersports Centre, near Caernarfon in North Wales for three nights.

    Accommodation at the Centre for Alternative Technology is self-catering, where you will be staying in 'Eco-Cabins'. You will need a duvet cover and pillow case or a sleeping bag, and you will be driven to a supermarket for provisions every day. Accommodation at Plas Menai is fully catered, including a packed lunch and there is a modest bar and recreation room.

  • How will we travel to Central and North Wales?

    Travel to and from the Investigating Environmental Processes field course will be by coach. Further details will be provided closer to the time of the trip.

  • Orange ochreous groundwater bleeding out along an impermeable layer in clastic sedimentary rocks, Lligwy Bay, Anglesey
    Measuring changing atmospheric parameters with elevation in mountain woodland, Cader Idris, Snowdonia National Park
    Measuring changing atmospheric parameters with elevation in mountain woodland, Cader Idris, Snowdonia National Park
  • What will I learn?

    You will be taught a range of field measurement, and wider observational, skills to help you understand a wide range of surface processes pertaining to atmospheric, ecological, hydrological and Earth sciences, and you will be trained in:

    • how to use basic field equipment to take measurements of various atmospheric and ecological parameters;
    • how to determine changes in the composition of soils, sediments and surface water;
    • how to record, analyse, interpret and communicate these measurements;
    • making descriptive qualitative and quantitative records of field observations pertaining to atmospheric, ecological, hydrological and Earth sciences.

    By the end of the course you will be able to:

    • work independently to record, interpret and communicate the significance of basic atmospheric, ecological, hydrological and Earth science information;
    • explain the wider significance of your fieldwork studies, particularly recognising the coherence with your classroom and laboratory learning, and understand a range of related socio-economic and political factors;;
    • progress to your second year studies with a sound theoretical and practical foundation in field-based investigative science.
  • What equipment will I need?

    Essential field course items are:

    • robust, substantial and waterproofed walking boots suitable for long days in remote mountainous and coastal field locations in bad weather;
    • full set of waterproofs (top and bottom), because it often rains in Wales!
    • warm outdoor clothes because it it often cold and windy (but it can also be hot and sunny so bring layers) in Wales!
    • small rucksack and water bottle;
    • field notebook plus pencils, eraser, hand lens, scale card;
    • camera/smartphone (if you have one);
    • high visability tabard (sleevless top);
    • hard hat;
    • personal first aid kit and any medication required (staff will also be carrying first aid essentials for the whole group);
    • adequate clothing, towel and toiletries for the whole week.
  • How will the field course be assessed?

    Summative assessed work usually includes the following:

    • plotting and interpretation of selected atmospheric measurements recorded during the accent of a substantial mountain (Calder Idris) [20%]
    • field notebook recording of geological information, including field sketches from various localities in North Wales [20%];
    • written quix covering all elements of the field course [20%];
    • role play exercise exploring socio-economic and political factors relating to prospective future copper mining in Anglesey [20%];
    • written report documenting investigation of Acid Mine Drainage at Pary Mountain [20%].
  • Who can I contact regarding the Wales field course?

    For more information visit the course unit specification or email course leaders Dr Katherine Harrison and Professor Colin Hughes.

  • What our students say

    ‌‌‌BSc Environmental Studies - Graduated 2005

    Hannah Kirkham

    "Field trips were always great fun and great for learning, and compared to some other degree programmes it was easy to get to know everyone on the course."


    Did you know?

    North Wales provided mineral resources as far back as the Bronze Age when Welsh copper was extracted and traded across North West Europe as a principal component of bronze, subsequently culminating in the 18th century when Parys Mountain on Anglesey provided much of the world's copper as an essential metal underpinning the Industrial Revolution. One consequence of this mining legacy is that Parys Mountain is one of the most polluted areas in North West Europe.

    More about the central and North Wales field area

    In contrast to hosting some of the most contaminated land and water in North West Europe; examples of pristine natural environments can also be found in Central and North Wales. Since Victorian times, when great scientists like Adam Sedgewick and Charles Darwin conducted geological and botanical fieldwork in the region, generations of naturalists, environmental scientists and geologists have marvelled at the fascinating insights into natural processes that are accessible across this beautiful part of the UK.

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