GEOG 330 : Research Methods in Physical Geography


2020 Semester Two (1205) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Research design and associated research methods from the component fields of physical geography. A residential field trip forms a focus for the course. On this trip, students will work under supervision in small groups and apply selected research methods and techniques to a research project. Fieldwork will be followed by the development and presentation of the research project.

Course Overview

An engagement with the research process, as practised in Geography. Students will undertake an independent research project on a topic within Geography. Emphasis is placed on:
• Research design, including scientific context of the project, logistics and ethical considerations
• Application of appropriate methods and techniques
• Information sources
• Field practice
• Data analysis and interpretation
• And research communication in oral and written form.
Independent or small group research projects may involve local fieldwork (usually in the mid-semester break), laboratory analysis, desktop analysis or other research activities. The course provides students with experience in designing and executing a research project. It is designed both to prepare students for the increasing number of jobs that require these research skills and as an introduction to research for those proceeding to higher degrees. The course is primarily focused on students’ independent research projects. Topics for these should draw upon conceptual or theoretical ideas developed in other Stage III courses in Geography. Lectures and group meetings prior to the mid-semester break will be used to guide students through a research design process. After the mid-semester break, group meetings and tutorial sessions will assist data analysis and interpretation.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: GEOG 250 and 15 points from GEOG 331, 332, 334, 351 Restriction: EARTHSCI 330

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Experience in developing an academic research project, including conceptualising the problem with reference to geographic theory (Capability 1, 2 and 6)
  2. Aquire conceptual and empirical resources (Capability 1 and 3)
  3. Practical experience undertaking geographic research (Capability 1 and 5)
  4. Advanced analytical expertise appropriate to research methodology (Capability 2)
  5. Expertise in communicating research findings to academic communities (Capability 4)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 20% Individual Coursework
Presentation 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Reports 60% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5


As part of the University-wide Tuākana community, The School of Environment Tuākana Programme aims to provide a welcoming learning environment for, and enhance the success of, all of our Māori and Pacific students. We are led by the principles of tautoko (support) and whanaungatanga (connection), and hope you find a home here at the School. Students who have identified as Māori and/or Pacific will receive an invitation to our online portal introducing the Programme, the resources we have available, and how you can get involved. 

Learning Resources

You will be primarily responsible for identifying references that are specific to your individual research project. Guidance will be provided by your research supervisor.

Special Requirements

There will be a range of optional field trips associated with specific research groups (and topics). Most field trips will be held during the mid-semester break. Field trips will occur off campus and may be outside of standard hours.
From week two onward, small group meetings/tutorials will be held at a date and time as arranged by your group supervisor. 

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 4 hours of lectures, 22 hours of group meetings/tutorials, 94 hours of reading/thinking about the content and assignment preparation, and 30 hours of fieldwork. Please note that these are reasonable estimates but your actual time commitment will depend upon many factors, including your choice of topic and advice of your supervisor.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 20/07/2020 11:36 a.m.