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Module DXX-3305:
Field Course: Tenerife

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Prof David Jones

Overall aims and purpose

To observe some contemporary issues from environmental science, geography (human and physical) and conservation.

To visit and observe a range of field sites where diverse climate geology, soils, plant and animal communities can be examined.

To participate in group discussions about the issues raised during visits.

To develop a critical and analytical attitude to the natural and managed environment.

To develop skills in designing and executing a research project.

Course content

A one-week field course on the environmentally diverse islands of Tenerife and La Gomera. You will be taken to a variety of sites which demonstrate a range of rock, soil and vegetation types, landscapes, volcanology and a range of conservation and sustainability issues. Some of these will involve meeting and discussion with local experts. You will spend time towards the end of the week working as pairs or small teams on a project designed by you and evolved in discussion with the teaching staff.

Assessment Criteria


Grade D- to D+ Basic knowledge of subject and ability to write descriptive reports.


Grade C- to B+ Sound knowledge of subject, ability to contribute constructively to debate, ability to write perceptive and well-argued reports.


Grade A- and above Sound knowledge of subject and ability to pull together various elements of the course material. Evidence of background reading. Lively, frequent and pertinent contributions to group discussions.

Learning outcomes

  1. Know how to design and execute a small research project including (I) undertaking fieldwork in teams, (II) data analysis and statistics, (III) undertaking a literature search and assimilating information, (IV) writing a scientific report.

  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the physical, biological and social processes that have shaped Tenerife and La Gomera at a range of temporal scales

  3. Show a critical understanding of the environmental issues exemplified on Tenerife

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Tenerife Essay

Using the information you have been given and your own observations during the field course answer one of the following questions

In an ecohydrological context, discuss how laurel forests have become perfectly adapted to survive on La Gomera and any issues that may threaten their future survival.

Within an ecosystem services context, discuss how the Canary pine forest contributes to the wellbeing of Tenerife. Within your answer, please include any threats to its existence and any management options which may promote its survival.

In an evolutionary context, discuss the process of soil formation and development in the Canary Islands with specific emphasis on Tenerife and La Gomera.

Forest fires or volcanic eruptions: which is more important to manage in the context of Tenerife?

Discuss the effectiveness of national park management in Tenerife (Teide National Park) and/or La Gomera (Garajonay National Park) and any potential ways in which this could be improved.

In a socioeconomic and environmental context, discuss the potential for achieving sustainable tourism in the Canary Islands.

To what extent does the contemporary geomorphology of Tenerife reflect endogenic and exogenic earth processes occurring at various temporal and spatial scales?

Compare and contrast human development and resource exploitation on Tenerife and La Gomera.

Discuss the potential for Tenerife to become self-sufficient in energy production via renewable sources.

Evaluate current methods of monitoring seismic activity within the Canary Islands and how these are being used to identify when and where eruptions may occur.

To what extent has the risk of geohazards influenced land-use on Tenerife and/or La Gomera?

In the context of the Canary Islands, describe (i) the geological and geographical evidence for the existence of large-scale lansdslides, (ii) their potential to occur in the future, and (iii) their potential environmental impacts.

REPORT Tenerife Project Report

This is the write-up for the experimental project you carried out on the last day of the fieldtrip. There is no strict word limit but I dont expect it to be greater than 2000 words. There are some open sessions in Weeks 7 and 8 for you to come and discuss your project results and get guidance from SNS staff on how to interpret and analyse your results. Also take the opportunity of discussing your results with staff in Tenerife while undertaking your project.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Work on the project reports and essay which is required to complete the module's assignments.


3*1 hour introductory lectures. This provides basic background on the soils, geology, water resources and socioeconomics of the Canary Islands. It also provides information on the logistics of the fieldcourses and provides an opportunity for students to ask questions about the fieldcourse.


3*1 hour drop-in sessions. This provides students with the opportunity to get feedback on their experimental project results and ways in which to undertake statistical data analysis and presentation and the production of the final report.


Day-long field visits over a 1 week period visiting a diverse array of sites on the islands of Tenerife and La Gomera. The days run from 9-6 each day.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Develop and identify research question(s) and/or hypotheses as the basis for investigation.
  • Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Awareness of the concepts of spatial and temporal scale in understanding processes and relationships.
  • Appreciation of the reciprocal nature of human-environmental relationships.
  • Apply appropriate techniques for presenting spatial and/or temporal trends in data.
  • Preparation of effective maps, diagrams and visualizations.
  • Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.
  • Undertake practical work to ensure competence in basic experimental skills.
  • Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.
  • Collect and record data generated by a diverse range of methods.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation


Resource implications for students

Students are required to pay for their travel and accommodation on the trip.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

See Blackboard and the course manual for further details.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: