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Kenya Field Course

Module titleKenya Field Course
Module codeBIO3431
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Thomas Currie (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This field course to Kenya will tackle a range of topics that you have been introduced to during your Human Sciences degree, including some of the biggest environmental and social issues facing the world today. The module will be introduced through introductory lectures in term 1 of the final year, covering both practical details about the field course (health and safety and risk assessments, travel plans) and background to the issues that you will learn about on the field course. During the field course you will experience first-hand a range of natural and social environments in Kenya, and carry out guided field exercises to investigate these environments. Upon return to Cornwall help sessions will be provided to give you support as you prepare your poster presentation.

When participating in field courses, you will be required to cover any visa costs and, if necessary, purchase anti-malarial medication and relevant immunisations. You will also need to provide your own specialist personal equipment appropriate to the field course destination, eg. walking boots, rucksack, mosquito net, sleeping bag, binoculars. You may incur additional costs dependent upon the specific demands of the research project chosen. Details of specialist equipment, vaccinations and visas that you must supply at your own expense are provided at

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to provide you with a hands-on, in-depth exploration of how we can investigate a range of issues in the Human Sciences. The intention of this module is to provide direct experience of the issues you have been tackling in your degree from first year topics concerning human evolution, and human and primate behaviour, through to second year topics of the evolution of human diversity, and social organisation, through to final year topics of evolutionary and ecological perspectives on complex societies, and the challenges facing them. Taking the knowledge from contemporary social and natural sciences that you have been learning about in class, the module positions you in the ‘real-world’ to learn more about the processes you have been studying play out, and the scale of the challenges we face.

As well as providing context and real-life experiences to complement the rest of your degree programme, this field trip will help you develop skills in data analysis and communication, team work, project planning and management which will be directly relevant to your future career. Through engaging directly with a range of sectors including tourism, conservation, economics and politics you will be exposed to a number of different career options related to your experiences such as working with NGOs, teaching, applied research, and voluntary service. The module specifically addresses the growing demand from different sectors to foster awareness and training in the way people interact with natural and social world.

This module will help you to develop and extend your awareness of the importance of taught and learnt skills in strengthening employability potential, especially through the application of critical analytical skills to a range of contemporary challenges facing societies today. More specifically, the presentation, diary entries, and essays all involve independently researching particular topics in order to summarise and synthesise information. Being able to orally present and write information in a succinct and comprehensible manner is a key part of a number of careers.

The teaching contributions on this module involve elements of research undertaken by module staff including work on human evolution and diversity and community-based conservation (Currie), and ecology (Hodgson). You will gain practical experience in research methods through taking part in focus groups, behavioural observations, and wildlife monitoring.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Apply, with limited guidance, selected theories, methodologies and techniques used in fieldwork in human sciences
  • 2. Demonstrate advanced level knowledge and understanding of specific social and natural processes and conceptual approaches
  • 3. Describe, analyse and explain the results of lectures and seminars, and library research, practical fieldwork, and relate results to existing bodies of knowledge
  • 4. Draw consistent arguments and conclusions based on the results of knowledge gained on the module
  • 5. Identify shortcomings in theories and fieldwork methodologies and suggest possible solutions
  • 6. Create a poster presentation on a chosen through careful planning, design, research, and execution with limited guidance
  • 7. Collect, interpret, evaluate and combine different types of evidence and information from across different disciplines

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Describe in detail and analyse essential facts and theory across human science disciplines
  • 9. Analyse and evaluate independently a range of research-informed literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 10. Identify and implement, with limited guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing problems in the human sciences
  • 11. With minimal guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within the human sciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 12. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 13. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 14. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data and complete a range of research-like tasks with very limited guidance
  • 15. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to graduate-level professional and practical skills, and act autonomously to develop new areas of skills as necessary
  • 16. Reflect effectively and independently on learning experiences and evaluate personal achievements
  • 17. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (ie communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Final year:

Term 1: Introductory sessions on:

  1. Introduction to the field trip and its aims
  2. Itinerary and planning
  3. Health and safety in fieldwork
  4. Introduction to the field area and key concepts

Details of specific locations, activities, and content of the field trip, along with reading lists appropriate to each field trip, will be issued prior to the trips.

Field trip:January (approximately first two weeks of term)

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching95Delivery of an intensive field trip with practical hands-on activities each day, including data collection, data analysis and synthesis/discussion sessions, including evening seminars and project help sessions
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Help sessions for project write-up
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2Fieldtrip preparation lectures
Guided independent study200Additional research, data handling, reading and preparation for module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Submit one diary entry1 hourAllWritten
Submit plan for 2000 word essay (including references)1 page of A4AllWritten

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Field trip diary exercise4010 hours1-16Written on feedback sheet
Essay602000 words1-14Written on feedback sheet


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Field trip diary exerciseNot applicableNot applicableNot applicable
EssayEssay1-14August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The field trip diary exercise is not deferrable because of its practical nature. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to re-submit the essay. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Elinor Ostrom (1990) Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge University Press
  • Richard Leakey, Virginia Morell  (2014[2001]) Wildlife Wars: My Fight to Save Africa's Natural Treasures. St. Martin's Press.
  • Tepilit Ole Saitoti (1986) The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography. University of California Press

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE page: (the ELE page includes links to e-resources (key journals, e-books and online materials), as well as relevant journal articles and practical information in support of the fieldtrip.)

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Human sciences, Kenya, fieldwork, research, governance,  environmental impact, development, cultural diversity

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

GEO2447 Isles of Scilly Field Course and GEO2448 Research Methods in Geography, Environment and Society

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date