Environmental Science & Sustainability (Dumfries Campus)

Fieldwork and field classes

The School of Interdisciplinary Studies is uniquely located for the study of Environmental Science and Sustainability with easy access to estuarine, maritime and terrestrial environments such as the Southern Uplands, the Merse, peat bogs and moorland. These features together with the extensive agricultural and forested environment of the region present a vibrant and diverse ‘laboratory’ in which to study; having these appealing features on the doorstep cannot be claimed by most other institutions offering an environmental undergraduate degree! 

Implicit in this programme is a need to understand the processes operating in the natural environment, the interaction of society with natural systems and the resulting environmental problems. Through the use of case studies, field visits and independent project work, students will explore environmental issues and debate some of the approaches used to address environmental problems in the pursuit of stewardship of the environment.

The degree makes ample use of the natural laboratory that is Dumfries and Galloway, and therefore offers students the opportunity to engage with a variety of fieldwork and field classes at all levels. Examples of past and current field classes include:

Level 1 courses:

  • Field class to a local wind farm
  • 3 afternoons of fieldwork to install rainfall run-off plots to assess the effects of field management on soil erosion processes at the Crichton Royal Farm, Scottish Rural College
  • Field class to Grey Mare's Tail to investigate glacial landforms
  • Experimental design project (lab or field based) on a topical environmental issue e.g. acid rain, global warming
  • Field class to the RSPB at Mersehead
  • Field class to Surgeon's Hall and the National Museum of Scotland
  • All day field class on campus with the Field Studies Council

Level 2 courses:

  • Field class to the Crichton Royal Farm to investigate agricultural stewardship on a working dairy farm
  • Field classes to a number of energy generation sites within Dumfries and Galloway e.g. Galloway hydro, Torness Nuclear Power Plant, Steven's Croft Biomass Power Plant, Dumfries and Galloway Informary's biomass boiler
  • Weekly fieldwork on the Research Methods for Environmental Scientists course which includes skills such as: Phase 1 Habitat Surveys; Landscape Character Assessments; vegetation surveys; biological and chemical methods to assess water quality; soil sampling with chemical and physical analysis; woodland surveys involving tree growth dynamics; GPS
  • Field class to Harestanes wind farm to see renewable energy within a forestry setting
  • Field class to forestry in Dumfries and Galloway to see sustainable forest management 
  • Field class to Ae Fishery

Level 3 courses:

  • Field classes to the River Clyde to examine invasive non-native species with the River Annan Fisheries Trust
  • Field class to Edinburgh Zoo to examine the role of the modern zoo and see the pandas!
  • Field class to Clatteringshaws Dam and Black Water of Dee to investigate river quality and human impacts
  • Field visit to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust to look at conservation in action with Mr Brian Morrell
  • Field visit to the Scottish Wildlife Trust to examine habitat management
  • Field visit to the Solway Firth to look at coastal impacts and management
  • Field class to Kirkconnell Flow lowland raised peat bog with SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage)
  • Placement/Placement (International) - usually involves a significant amount of field work e.g. previous placements included: working with the red kites (RSPB); working with the Barnacle geese (WWT); working with trout and Vendace prior to their re-introduction into Loch Skeen (Scottish Rural University College); assisting a tourism based SME achieve the Green Tourism status; developing a 'water' teaching pack for use in primary schools (Eco-Schools). Current placements are available on the Placement web page.

Honours year (level 4):

  • The Environmental Stewardship Project will enable a student to study in depth an environmental topic or issue that interests them. This will naturally involve fieldwork of some sort!
  • The Environmental Field Course involves one week of field work with off campus. This course takes place in the 2 weeks before the induction week i.e. around the first two weeks in September.
  • The Perspectives on the Environment course has a visit to Rosnes Benches, Galloway Forest Park, which was created by landscape artists Dalziel and Scullion.  This Field trip is undertaken in association with Dr Jan Hogarth of Wide Open, a creative organisation dedicated to public art and placemaking projects.


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