Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module DDL-4545:
Tropical Forestry Study Tour

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Organiser: Dr James Walmsley

Overall aims and purpose

To visit and observe a range of tropical field sites of diverse forest structure, land use and management practices; ii) to meet in-country experts and local people to understand local cultures and their dependency on the forest resource; iii) to introduce the key social and political influences on the management of natural resources by different groups of people in particular environmental contexts; iv) participate in group discussions about the issues raised during visits; v) to develop a critical and analytical attitude to the natural and managed environment; vi) to develop skills in designing, executing and writing up a research project.

Course content

A two-week field course to an environmentally diverse area. This will alternate between various countries endowed with tropical forest resources, such as Uganda, Ghana and others, in collaboration with host country organisations and universities.
Students may visit a variety of sites which demonstrate a range of natural and managed vegetation, and a range of conservation and sustainability issues. Some of these may involve meeting and discussion with local experts. In the second week, students may work in small teams on a project developed in discussion with fellow students and staff.

Assessment Criteria


Grades A- to A**: Sound knowledge of subject and ability to pull together various elements of the course material and other material succinctly and perceptively. Evidence of substantive background reading. Lively, frequent and pertinent contributions to group discussions. Ability to write perceptive and well-argued reports, peer review the work of others in a critical and constructive manner, and work very effectively as part of a team in the execution of a small research project.


Grades B- to B+: Sound knowledge of subject and ability to write descriptive accounts of the key topics covered in the Study Tour. A sound multidisciplinary approach to a range of issues. Ability to contribute constructively to debate, ability to write well-argued reports, peer review the work of others and work effectively as part of a team in the execution of a small research project. Structured, accurate and relevant description. Detailed quantification and sound level of critical evaluation expected.


Grades C- to C+: Basic knowledge of subject and ability to write descriptive accounts. Basic knowledge of the key topics covered in the Study Tour. A basic multidisciplinary approach to a range of issues. Ability to contribute constructively to debate, ability to write reports, peer review the work of others and work effectively as part of a team in the execution of a small research project. Structured, accurate and relevant description. Some quantification and basic level of critical evaluation expected.

Learning outcomes

  1. Capacity to critically examine and discuss online a range of scientific and non-scientific literature relevant to a specific country and / or specific topic areas relating to tropical forestry..

  2. Ability to draft a research concept note remotely and peer review the research ideas of others.

  3. Ability to conduct primary and / or secondary research in a tropical forestry context, both individually and as part of a group effort.

  4. Ability to collaborate with others in order to produce a research report formatted according to the requirements of a peer-review journal.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
CLASS TEST Multiple Choice / Multiple Answer Questionnaire

At the end of Unit 1, you will be required to complete a multiple-chioce questionnaire. This is designed to test your knowledge and understanding of the topics and issues covered in the 'core readings' frmo weeks 1-3.
The test will be completed via Blackboard.

Written assignment, including essay Peer review of concept note

In small groups, students will prepare a draft research concept note (maximum 4 pages), which will be submitted two weeks prior to the deadline for the individual peer review. Once these have been prepared, your task (individually, not in groups) will be to prepare peer-review(s) of up to 1,000 words per review, of the concept note(s) submitted by other groups. Other students will simultaneously peer-review the concept note that you have prepared with your group. Concept notes should be reviewed using the criteria / guiding principles set out below:

  1. Use of appropriate terminology, concepts, models and theories
  2. Identification and critical discussion of relevant issues and problems based on literature
  3. Logical and coherent analysis and presentation of arguments
  4. Use of appropriate structure and organisation
  5. Use of clear and concise writing style
  6. Source material properly cited with complete reference list in appropriate format Your review will be assessed according to it's quality, rigour and professionalism.
REPORT Reflective diary entry

During the module you should keep a diary. You are required to submit a detailed a reflective diary account for one aspect of the module. This should a personal account in which you are expected to express your views, opinions, emotions and take-home messages. You should reflect on any preconceptions you had and support your submission by including references to relevant literature.

REPORT Research Article

Each group is required to submit a collectively written article. This should take the form of an academic paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, reporting on the original piece of research that you designed and conducted during the module. The article should not exceed 5000 words. Please note, however, that this is the maximum limit and NOT a target to aim at! Your submission will be judged on the quality of the research and the clarity with which this is communicated in the article.
Individual marks will be generated based on two equally weighted variables (i) the quality of the group submission and (ii) the quality of the contributions made by each individual group member, as determined by their fellow group members.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Group Project

Group-based research and report.


A two-week study tour (or equivalent)

Private study

Private and guided self-study.


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
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • 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
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • 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

  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation
  • Recognize the moral, ethical and social issues relating to the subject.
  • 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
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Apply appropriate techniques for presenting spatial and/or temporal trends in data.
  • Prepare effective maps, diagrams and visualizations.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies to ensure competence in basic experimental and/or fieldwork skills.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation
  • Engagement with current subject developments and their application.
  • Engage in debate and/or discussion with specialists and non-specialists using appropriate language.
  • Demonstrate the independence and skills required for continuing professional development


Resource implications for students

Students will need to finance their return travel from their country of residence (cost dependent on where they travel from), as well as their in-country costs (typically ~£800), plus the costs of any vaccinations, visas etc. Funding from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission pays for the costs for the majority of students, who are in receipt of scholarships which cover these costs. Self-funded students need to find funds.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: