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Coursework element – fieldwork



Introduction a range of techniques that you can use for fieldwork in coastal environments. These techniques can be used in the traditional way to study and analyse coastal processes and landforms. Alternatively, why not update your fieldwork slightly to investigate one of the topical and relevant issues in the list below, using the same set of techniques.

Coastal investigations – Why not try…?

  • Investigating the value which people place on a local beach
  • Investigating a litter problem or another issue: why does it happen there, who is most responsible and what is their perception of the beach environment, how might the issue be resolved or minimised
  • Investigating coastal management strategies, for example groynes as habitats. What lives on or around them? How might their removal affect the ecosystem
  • Investigating water quality at the local beach – does it deserve its blue flag? Should it have one
  • Undertaking a cost-benefit analysis of coastal protection measures at a particular location
  • A ‘what would happen if…?’ study. For example, what would happen if all coastal protection measures were removed
  • Considering the possible implications of climate change and sea level rise. What impact will projected forecasts of more extreme weather events and rising sea level have on existing coastal management schemes

Technique one: Beach profiles


  • To survey the shape (morphology) of a beach
  • To compare beaches or coastlines in different locations
  • To examine the effects of management on beach processes and morphology
  • To investigate seasonal changes in the beach profile
  • To examine relationships between the beach profile and other factors, for example rock type, cliff profile, sediment size or shape


  • Tape measure
  • Ranging poles
  • Clinometer or pantometer
  • Compass
  • Recording sheet


  1. Select sampling points for beach profiles across the width of the beach
  2. At each sample point in turn, place a ranging pole at the start and finish (at A and H on the diagram). Point A should ideally be the low tide mark, or as close to this as is safe
  3. Note the main changes in slope angle up the beach, and use them to inform the ‘sections’ for the profile. (A through to H on the diagram)
  4. For each change in slope, use the clinometer to take a bearing to record the slope angle (ii). For example, from point A to point B in the diagram below. It is important to ensure that the bearing is taken from a point on the ranging pole that coincides with the eye level of the person using the clinometer. Many ranging poles have stripes which can be used for this purpose. Alternatively, bearings can be taken from the eye level of a person of a similar height holding the ranging pole
  5. Measure the distance along the ground of the section (i), and record this information alongside the slope angle
  6. Repeat processes four and five for each break in slope that you have identified


Figure one: Surveying the morphology of the beach using a clinometer and ranging poles. Data collected using this technique can be used to create beach profiles.



Pantometers can be used by one person, and the slope can be surveyed systematically at regular, short intervals.

Figure two: Using a clinometer to measure the angle of a beach profile.

Considerations and possible limitations

  • Varying tidal conditions can affect access and safety. Make sure you check tide times before you embark on your fieldwork
  • Low tide is the best time to measure beach profiles, but places a time constraint on the activity. This can be overcome if groups of students complete profiles at different locations simultaneously and share their results
  • It is important to ensure that the ranging poles are held straight and prevented from sinking into sand, both of which may affect angle readings
  • Sampling technique is an important consideration. A balance needs to be struck between time available and the need for a number of profiles across the width of the beach to ensure the validity of results
  • There may be some user error when taking readings with a clinometer, and the sophistication of models of clinometer can vary enormously
  • If using a pantometer, this piece of equipment must be kept vertical when taking readings

Using the data within an investigation

  • Data can be used to draw profiles onto graph paper using distance from sea as the horizontal axis and using an angle measurer to complete the profiles. The graphs can then be analysed and comparisons made across the width of the beach
  • Profiles can be measured at different locations on the same stretch of coastline or in different seasons and compared
  • Different stretches of coastline which may have different natural characteristics, for example sand and shingle, or human characteristic, for example managed and unmanaged can also be compared
  • Beach profiles can be used in conjunction with other data collected to examine relationships between different variables

Technique two: Sediment analysis


  • To examine the sorting of beach material, either across the beach profile (following the sample lines used for profiling) or across the width of the beach (linking to the process of longshore drift)
  • To investigate the effect of management structures, for example groynes, on the sorting of beach material
  • To investigate the origin of beach material through the study of sediment cells
  • To compare sediment analysis at beaches in a range of locations and attempt to explain similarities and differences
  • To examine the relationship between beach sediment and other factors, for example the size and slope of the beach


  • Clear ruler, pebble meter or stone-board
  • Roundness or angularity charts/indexes
  • Recording sheet
  • Quadrats (optional)
  • Random number table (optional)


Techniques for measuring are the same as for sediment analysis in river studies. Please refer to this section for more information.

However, thought should be given to the sampling technique used to ensure that a representative sample is obtained.

Quadrats can be used to select sediment for sampling. Alternatively, ten surface pebbles touching your foot can be selected at each location. There are many different methods of sampling sediment. The different methods should be analysed by the researcher and an informed decision made as to which is the most appropriate for the aims of the investigation.

Considerations and possible limitations

  • Deciding on the sampling strategy is very important in reducing subjectivity and increasing the validity of results. A sampling method should always be adopted to avoid the temptation to select the pebbles
  • Sample size should be large enough to provide a representative sample of the ‘parent population’, yet not too large to be unmanageable
  • The sharpest point of a stone must be measured when using the Cailleux scale and judgement of this may vary from person to person creating subjectivity
  • In reality, using Power’s scale will reveal mostly class five/six
  • Anything which may affect the results should be noted, for example recent storms or management structures which may alter the composition of beach material

Technique three: Measuring longshore drift


  • To examine the transport of material along a stretch of coastline
  • To compare processes of sediment transport in different locations along the coastline
  • To investigate the effect of management techniques on the movement of beach material along the coastline
  • To examine the causes and effects of changes to the dominant direction of longshore drift
  1. Observing swash and backwash, and transport of material


  • Float, for example an orange or cork
  • Stopwatch
  • Tape measure


  1. Decide on an appropriate distance to measure longshore drift over, for example 10 metres
  2. Lay out tape measure close to water and mark start and finish points
  3. Place your float into water in the breakwater zone at the start point
  4. Observe and time the object’s movement across the pre-set distance

Similar results can be obtained if the distance travelled by the object is recorded over a specified time, for example five minutes.

Considerations and possible limitations

  • Tidal and wind conditions, the size and weight of float used and the slope angle of the beach may all affect measurements
  • Take note of the wind speed and direction on the day the fieldwork is undertaken as this may affect the speed at which the float is transported. This is particularly important if further sampling for the investigation is undertaken on another day
  • Obstructions to the movement of float, for example rocky outcrops, may affect results.
  • Floats may be lost during the investigation. Repeated experiments or the use of more than one marker can reduce this problem
  • Floats should be placed in the water ahead of the start line to allow them to settle prior to recording, and avoid giving the floats extra momentum
  • The float should lie low in the water to ensure that it is not influenced by the wind
  • The measuring should be undertaken in an area where there are no swimmers or paddlers for safety reasons and to ensure the reliability of results
  • Any anomalies should be recorded, for example obstructions which may affect the movement of the float
  • Weather and sea conditions can have a dramatic affect on observations

Using data within an investigation

  • Data would not be used in isolation, but in conjunction with other data collected as supporting evidence
  • Most commonly used when comparing managed and unmanaged stretches of coastline, particularly the impact of management techniques on transport processes within the sediment cell
  1. Investigating the impact of groynes on the movement of sediment


  • Metre ruler
  • Compass
  • Record sheet
  • Camera


  1. Using the compass, identify and record the aspect of each side of the groyne, for example the western and eastern side of each groyne
  2. Use the meter ruler to measure from the top of the groyne to the surface of the sediment on each side
  3. Take digital pictures to illustrate differences in sediment levels
  4. Repeat for each groyne, or identify and use a suitable sampling strategy if there are too many groynes to sample them all

Considerations and possible limitations

  • Measurements should be taken at the same point along the length of each groyne, and tidal conditions and safety are therefore a consideration when undertaking this fieldwork
  • Care should be taken to ensure that the metre ruler doesn’t sink into the sand, and that it is held straight

Using the data within an investigation

  • The findings of the investigation can be used to study the impact of physical and environmental processes on a stretch of coastline, including seasonal variations or variations in response to weather conditions, for example changes in the prevailing wind direction or storm events
  • Graphical representation of data can be used to compare sites
  • The data could be used within an investigation into the impact or success of coastal management strategies
  • A comparison of different sites could be made, comparing managed with unmanaged sites, or sites managed in different ways. The impact of coastal management strategies on other beaches further along the coastline can also be studied using this method.
  • Findings can be used to label and annotate images, see examples below from Swanage Beach in Dorset

Figure three: Annotated images of the beach at Swanage, Dorset showing evidence of longshore drift.

Figure four: Measuring the height of sediment to the west of a groyne

Fieldwork groynes

Keith Barlett from the Royal Manor Arts College in Dorset has written an article introducing an investigation which uses this methodology.

Technique four: Cliff surveys


  • To examine physical characteristics and features along a stretch of coastline
  • To identify different rock types and investigate the links between geology and physical features
  • To compare coastlines with different geologies
  • To study evidence of coastal erosion, including sub-aerial weathering, mass movement, basal erosion by the sea, human activity
  • To investigate and analyse strategies for protecting against coastal erosion


  • Plain paper, pencil and rubber for sketch
  • Camera
  • Geological guides
  • Secondary evidence, for example photographs, maps, newspaper cuttings
  • Tape measure
  • Clinometer


Cliff height

  • Standing a safe distance from the cliff, measure distance (A) using a tape measure. A distance of around 10 meters may be appropriate, but this depends on the size of the beach
  • Use a clinometer towards the top of the cliff to measure angle (B)
  • The height of the cliff is calculated as follows:
    • Distance (A) x tan of angle (B) + height of observer

Fieldwork cliff height

Figure 5: The method for measuring the height of a cliff using a clinometer.

Cliff sketch

A detailed sketch of the physical and human features of the cliffs at predetermined sampling points. Once cliff height has been established, the sketch can be drawn reasonably accurately to scale. Observations and annotations should be made of:

  • Obvious features, for example high tide level, caves, wave-cut notch, wave-cut platform, gullying
  • Basic geology (can be added later)
  • Structure, for example bedding planes and joints, folding and faulting
  • Conservation considerations, for example nesting birds, other animals
  • Type of vegetation and any evidence of effect on erosion
  • Evidence of erosion or mass movement, for example slumping, rock falls
  • Human activity, for example built structures, management/protection measures, recreational activities

Photographic evidence can also be used to support and reinforce sketches.

Considerations and possible limitations

  • Be aware of the safety implications of working close to cliffs, it can be dangerous
  • It is important to consider the sampling strategy, where to carry out cliff surveys and how many to do – before the investigation is started
  • There may be some user error when taking readings with a clinometer, and the sophistication of models of clinometer can vary enormously

Using the data within an investigation

  • Cliff profiles can be used in conjunction with other data collected to examine relationships between different variables, for example beach profiles or sediment analysis
  • An investigation could examine the links between the beach morphology, sediment and cliff features
  • An investigation could examine the links between the geology of the cliffs and beach material or movement
  • It is possible to compare different stretches of coastline with different geologies to see how they vary in terms of geology, sediment and beach morphology
  • Secondary data, for example historical maps, photographs or articles from local newspapers or websites can be used to examine recession rates. Predictions could be made for future rates of cliff recession, alongside suggestions for future management

A study of the range of different techniques used to manage the cliffs could highlight costs and benefits as well as potential impacts on physical processes and human activity. Each technique could be assessed in terms of its effectiveness at reducing rates of recession.


Stevenson screen

Stevenson screen

Microclimate data can be collected in any location, including the school grounds. This makes it a simple fieldwork investigation to carry out.

The lists below give you an idea of some of the ways that data collected within a microclimate investigation can be used.

  • To investigate microclimatic data at a small scale, within a school grounds, or large scale, for example an urban transect passing from green-belt through a variety of city environments
  • To investigate the abiotic conditions of different parts of a particular ecosystem
  • To investigate diurnal or seasonal changes in the microclimate
  • To investigate the influence of microclimate on something, for example the distribution of a particular species of plant or vegetation cover
  • To compare different locations
  • To investigate the affect of topography on microclimates
  • To investigate the impact of human interference, or features of the built environment on the microclimates of different locations
  • To investigate the most suitable location for something
  • To link with and incorporate into ecosystem investigations
  • To link with other data, for example soil analysis, invertebrate data

Microclimates: Why not try…?

  • The old classic – the most suitable site for…
  • Assessing the possible impacts of a new building on microclimates, for example the building of a new science block
  • Asking a question, for example why is site x so popular with sunbathers? Do the buildings at site y create wind tunnels.
  • How much does vegetation cover affect microclimatic conditions? Different types, densities or ages of vegetation communities could be investigated
  • How do microclimates affect people’s activities or their perceptions of place? For example questionnaires to investigate how pupils view and use different areas in the school grounds
  • How does proximity to water affect microclimates
  • How large or wide an area of microclimate is affected by buildings
  • During a heat wave – how much more extreme are the microclimates of urban areas
  • Considering hedgerows as microclimates – how do they affect local conditions and what might be the ecological impact of their removal? You could link this with ecosystem data

Wind speed and direction


  • Weather vane
  • Anemometer or Ventimeter
  • Compass
  • Beaufort scale
  • Record sheets


  1. A compass should be used to determine North
  2. Wind direction ‘apparatus’ can be improvised using a home made wind sock or weather vane. The weather vane should be placed in the exact location to be investigated, and the variable, for example height above ground kept constant at each site
  3. The Beaufort scale can be used to give a crude, qualitative judgement of wind speed by observing evidence around the site. Further information about the Beaufort Scale can be found on the Met Office website and a pictorial guide on the Howtoons website
  4. An anemometer can give a more accurate reading, and will work in very low wind conditions, but is expensive. A ventimeter is cheaper but is not as reliable or as accurate in low wind conditions
  5. Readings should be recorded at each location

Considerations: Limitations and validity

  • Very high or low wind speeds can be difficult to measure
  • Wind strength is hard to measure at ground level
  • The Beaufort scale is subjective. You need to consider that the observations are likely to come from around the site, rather than at the exact location. Is it therefore an accurate method for a micro-climate assessment?
  • Taking several readings and finding the average can increase validity of results

Temperature, relative humidity and light levels


  • Thermometer
  • (Whirling) hygrometer/psychrometer
  • Light meter
  • Record sheet


  • Different instruments operate differently and the instructions should be referred to for each
  • The whirling hygrometer or psychrometer should be held above the head for a set period of time, for example one minute and readings are then taken from the wet and dry bulbs. It is the difference between these two readings which informs relative humidity
  • Digital thermometers are reliable and precise but may not be if poorly calibrated or the batteries run low (always check the batteries)
  • Whether using a digital or analogue thermometer, recordings should be taken at the same height above ground at each site, for example one metre
  • Digital light meters are again more accurate, but the same applies as for all digital equipment in terms of calibration and battery life

Considerations: Limitations and validity

  • A sampling method should be decided upon to ascertain the method for data collection, for example the locations to sample, the timings and frequency of recordings
  • Some account should be taken of the fact that recordings will inevitably be taken at different times in different locations – while cloud cover can change from one moment to the next, affecting temperature and light readings
  • Allow for some margin of error in using the instruments – different products vary in accuracy and performance
  • If using an analogue thermometer breakage is a health and safety consideration. Also, readings may be affected by direct sunlight, or hand-heat. Ground temperatures are more extreme, so readings should not be taken directly on the ground
  • Cloud cover at the time of taking measurements could be recorded to help explain anomalies in data. Cloud cover is estimated in Oktas which refers to how many eighths of the sky are covered by cloud, using the following scale:
    • Clear sky
    • 1 okta
    • 2 oktas
    • 3 oktas
    • 4 oktas
    • 5 oktas
    • 6 oktas
    • 7 oktas
    • Overcast

Cloud type could also be recorded, as this affects light intensity.



  • Rain gauge
  • Record sheets


  1. Home made gauges can be used – Ensure the same ones are used to ensure a fair test
  2. Gauges should be set up in the desired locations
  3. Records should be kept of anything at each site which may affect readings, for example shelter from buildings or vegetation cover
  4. Leave gauges for a predetermined period of time at each location
  5. For remote locations, bucket-siphon rain gauges can be used to take measurements which empty themselves daily

Considerations: Limitations and validity

  • Consider the accessibility of the site, is it local or remote. Which is better
  • Time factor, checking every day
  • Practicality of checking all gauges at the same time
  • Affect of vegetation, interception of rain or buildings providing shelter, these should be noted, but may be interesting variables to investigate in their own right
  • Evaporation, some open gauges allow evaporation which will affect readings
  • Rain splash, gauges flush with the ground level may be affected by rain splash, therefore over estimating precipitation
  • Also, extremely heavy rain may cause excess runoff (especially from some surfaces) which may run into flush rain gauges

Rain gauges raised above ground level may underestimate precipitation as rain may be funnelled around the gauge

Urban and settlement

Investigating land-use and function


  • To investigate land use patterns and change over time
  • To establish the boundaries of the CBD, to investigate retail and commerce within the CBD (see retailing and commerce investigations section, below) and to identify any issues concerning the management of the CBD
  • To undertake a study of the function of a town or of different parts of a town/city, or to compare the function of different towns and cities
  • To investigate spatial differences in function within an urban area, for example, changes in functional dominance with distance from the CBD, or different functions of the retail area of the CBD
  • To study changes in function over time (temporal studies)
  • To investigate industrial land-use, for example reasons for location and impact (linked to environmental quality or transport studies)

Urban land-use transects


  • Base maps of study locations
  • Appropriate land use classification key
  • Pencils and clipboard
  • Notepad or record sheets
  • Digital camera


  1. Decide on your sampling technique, especially if you are investigating a large urban area
  2. Using a large scale map of the study area, select a transect line radiating from the CBD outwards
  3. Develop a land-use classification key for use during the data collection. This should be based on the type of land use (residential, industrial, etc.) and then sub-divided according to the age, style or function of individual buildings. Your key should allow you to easily classify each individual building you encounter on your transect. You may decide to use a GOAD map of the area as your base map
  4. Walk your transect route and gradually build up information on your base map by adding colours or codes from the key which you have developed
  5. The map can be redrawn following your fieldwork to ensure that all of the land uses are clearly shown. You can use a GIS package to create land use maps on the computer. Alternatively, you can complete your maps by hand

Considerations and possible limitations

  • Mapping large areas can be time consuming and labour-intensive, so group work is a good idea
  • A suitable sampling strategy should be devised to reduce bias in your land use survey
  • Obtaining site maps, especially historical ones, can be difficult. There is a cost involved in obtaining GOAD maps of your area
  • Care and thought should go into developing an appropriate land use classification key to make data collection easier and less subjective. However, a degree of subjectivity is inevitable when determining land use classifications, and errors can sometimes be made in judging the age and style of the buildings

Retailing and commerce investigations


  • To examine the distribution of shops and services within a CBD and to use Nearest Neighbour analyses to mathematically describe the distribution as clustered, random or regular
  • To relate the distribution of different retail outlets to functions in different parts of a town, city or CBD
  • To investigate the diversity of shops and services in different urban areas and to compare changes over time
  • To investigate the environmental quality of urban areas
  • To examine retail ‘footfall’ by calculating the proportion of people walking past a shop that actually enter the premises. Information gathered could be used to compare different shop types, shops with different frontages (for example; width, colour or display), chain and independent shops or shops with and without sales or promotions. Data collected could also be compared to questionnaire findings on shoppers’ age, preferences and perceptions
  • To use mental maps or perception surveys to examine and compare people’s perceptions of the CBD
  • To investigate the competition between two neighbouring towns in terms of the diversity of retail services available and the perceptions of consumers


  • Historical and current maps (ideally GOAD maps) of the study areas
  • Key to classifications of the function of shops and services
  • Coloured pencils

Services in the CBD

  1. Devise a suitable key for the different functions of the shops and services within the CBD, for example food, shoe, clothes, chain, independent, charity, etc.
  2. Walk around the CBD and on a GOAD map of the area, carefully code or colour each unit according to your key

Nearest neighbour analysis

  1. Shops or services of a particular function – clothes shops, for example, are identified and marked onto a base (GOAD) map of the CBD area
  2. Each is numbered
  3. The linear distance (in cm) from each unit to its nearest neighbour is measured
  4. Data is recorded in a table
  5. Once all distances have been measured, the average is calculated
  6. The total study area is measured in cm2
  7. The figures are inputted into the formula to generate a number between zero and 2.15
  8. Zero = clustered, one = random, 2.15 = regular distribution

Diversity index

  1. The shops and services in the CBD are classified using a key, according to their function, for example food shops, shoe shops etc.
  2. These should be marked clearly onto a map, perhaps using codes or colour coding
  3. Tallies are made of the number of shops of each separate function, and the total number of shops is recorded
  4. A diversity index could be calculated as follows:
  • DI = ∑ (X / N) 2

Where: DI = Diversity index, X = Number of shops for that category, for example food shops N = Total number of shops (for that time period if looking at historical changes)

  1. You would calculate X/N for each shop type or function, and then add up all of the squared values to give an overall value
  2. Values of DI are from zero to 0.99. The higher the value the greater the diversity
  3. If looking at changes over time, historical GOAD maps can be used in the same way, and the DI calculated for each time period and compared

Pedestrian flow (footfall) studies

  1. Decide on the criteria for comparison, for example:
  • To compare a chain clothes shop, for example Topshop, with an independent clothes shop
  • To compare shops with large frontage to shops with small frontage
  • To compare shops with promotions, for example a sale, and those without
  • To examine and compare the potential impact of shop appearance, for example; colour, window display, cleanliness
  1. The number of people entering a particular shop is calculated as a proportion of those passing by, and tallies are recorded for each shop being investigated
  2. Data should ideally be tied in with questionnaires

Perception and mental map studies

  1. Mark some main land-marks, shops and services onto a base map of the CBD, and number them
  2. Ask people to attempt to correctly identify which number on the map corresponds to each shop, service and land-mark on the list you present them with
  3. Additional information could be obtained from each person, for example their age category, gender and ethnicity, plus information about their shopping habits and how often they visit the area
  4. Tally the results in a table to show the percentage of correct answers given for each location
  5. The results could be linked to information on peak land values, for example, is there a greater awareness of places closer to the PLVI (peak land value intersection)? Or accessibility – do more people correctly identify the locations which are more accessible compared to those which are less accessible? Or desirability – link to information on the environmental quality of different areas
  6. People could also be provided with a base map of only a few key landmarks, for example a main road or a park, and asked to draw their own ‘mental maps’, showing whichever locations you ask them to mark or the areas that they like to visit within the urban area

Considerations and possible limitations

  • There is huge scope within this fieldwork theme for interesting and relevant investigations – your imagination is the main limit! However, it is important to ensure that you have clear aims before you begin to avoid the investigation becoming vague and unfocused
  • This type of study may be time-consuming, and require more than one person to carry out data collection. For example, footfall surveys should ideally take place at the same time at each location for direct comparison, and two people are really needed at each site to count in each direction
  • Pedestrianised areas of the CBD can be very busy and make surveys more problematic.
  • Obtaining historical GOAD maps will incur a cost
  • Perception studies should be approached carefully in order to obtain valid results. Sampling technique should be decided upon before the study is undertaken so as to reduce bias
  • Some questions are sensitive and should be approached as such, for example the age, ethnicity and social background of respondents

Urban changes and issues investigations


  • To investigate industrial change over time
  • To investigate changing retail provision and shopper behaviours
  • To investigate a proposed new retail development, the case for and against the development and potential positive and negative impacts
  • To investigate issues such as crime and personal safety within an urban area using perception studies and mental mapping techniques as well as questionnaires and environmental quality surveys
  • To investigate the effectiveness of management strategies in the CBD, for example the designation of pedestrianised areas
  • To conduct route enquiries along transects to examine, account for and evaluate the changes which have taken place along this route over time
  • To investigate the impact of regeneration and redevelopment
  • To investigate chewing gum as an urban issue
  • To investigate planned housing developments and their potential impacts


  • Historical maps of the study areas
  • Current base maps (preferably GOAD maps) of the areas
  • Keys to different land-uses / functions
  • Coloured pencils
  • Digital camera
  • Questionnaires or interview questions
  • Other survey sheets, for example environmental quality, perception surveys, mental maps

Investigating urban changes

  1. Using historical maps and photographs, identify changes in land use, shops and services over time
  2. Mark current land-uses, shops and services should be marked onto a base (GOAD) map using a suitable key or classification system
  3. Carry out questionnaires to obtain opinions on changes, and investigate people’s perceptions about the area through mental mapping techniques
  4. Complete environmental quality surveys to investigate the urban quality of the area as it is today
  5. Arrange interviews with representatives from companies in retail parks or industrial areas. Ask about the reasons for company’s location and investigate the sphere of influence (for shoppers and work force) as well as the impacts of the park on the local area

Changing shopping provision and habits

  1. Investigate changes in the diversity of shops and services over time using historical maps and by applying a diversity index (see section on retailing and commerce)
  2. Compare out of town shopping centres with the CBD of local towns, the sphere of influence, pedestrian flows and ‘user’ perceptions may all differ, along with factors such as accessibility, desirability, parking and other facilities at each location
  3. Use footfall surveys to determine which shop types are most attractive to shoppers. Perhaps this differs between different parts of the town, or is related to age, gender or social background
  4. Use questionnaires to evaluate people’s opinions and feelings about the shopping environment, for example, how it has changed or is changing and the extent to which this influences their shopping behaviour

Investigating issues using mental maps

  1. Provide respondents with a base map of the study area, with a few key features marked on. Depending on the aims of your investigation, ask them to shade the areas:
    • Where they feel safest
    • Where they perceive there to be greatest risk to their personal safety
    • Which they consider to be the most attractive or desirable (in terms of living / shopping / working environment)
    • Which they consider to be cleaner, more polluted or run down
  2. Ask respondents to rank particular locations in the area according to certain criteria, for example safety, desirability, attractiveness, cleanliness
  3. Examine any links between the age, gender, ethnicity and social background of the respondents and their perceptions
  4. Obtain secondary data on planned developments and, where possible, conduct interviews with developers or company representatives
  5. Conduct questionnaires amongst the public, with shop owners and representatives from companies to obtain people’s opinions and perceptions about these developments
  6. Use traffic and pedestrian surveys to highlight the potential impact of a proposed development

Considerations and possible limitations

  • Definite and clear aims should be established or the investigation becomes vague and unfocused. Once you’ve decided on your aims, you can then identify the exact data collection requirements to meet those aims
  • Time and labour are both considerations, do not bite off more than you can chew
  • Obtaining historical GOAD maps will incur a cost. Secondary data regarding historic industrial activity may not be publicly available
  • Perception studies should be approached carefully in order to obtain valid results. A sampling technique should be decided upon before the investigation is undertaken to reduce the chance of bias
  • Some questions are sensitive and should be approached as such, for example age category, ethnicity and social background

Arranging interviews with representatives from companies or retailers can be tricky too, especially as you may want to interview someone who is quite high up in the company rather than just the Saturday job person.

Investigating opinions

Carrying out interview surveys


To collect primary data or to investigate people’s perceptions about an issue, project or development.

Interview surveys can be more detailed and more flexible than questionnaires, with open ended (rather than closed) questions and the opportunity for respondents to give their opinions without being pigeon-holed by option boxes. Interviews can also be less structured than questionnaires, so particularly interesting points can be pursued and you can adapt to follow the flow of the conversation.


  • Research the topic thoroughly
  • Decide who you need to interview
  • Try to find out the names of specific people (use personal contacts if possible) and write a formal letter to them – in plenty of time and explaining who you are, what you want and why you want it, and asking for them to contact you to arrange a mutually convenient time. They may want to know the type of questions you’ll be asking
  • Decide on exactly what it is you want to find out from each person
  • Decide on the sampling strategy if you are planning to interview large numbers of people, for example if interviewing visitors to a country park

Structuring your interview

  • Start with a few factual, easy and short-response questions to put the person at ease
  • Think about the sequence of your questions. They should follow a logical sequence and the deeper more searching questions requiring a more thoughtful response should come later in the interview
  • Consider the length of time it might take – aim for no more than 30 minutes
  • Ensure that your questions are pertinent and show your understanding of the topic; think about each question beforehand and consider how you would explain your meaning if the respondent is not fully clear what you’re getting at
  • Ensure the questions encourage more than just a yes or a no answer. Be prepared to prompt for more detail
  • Think about the wording of questions. Your questions should be clear and unambiguous, without any ‘conditioning’ in the way that the question is being asked (for example, questions starting with ‘do you agree…’ encourage a ‘yes’ answer). Think also about the tone of the question as you ask it
  • Be aware of potentially sensitive or provocative questions
  • Conduct a pilot test and refine your questions accordingly

Conducting the interview

  • Dress smartly
  • Be punctual and polite – introduce yourself confidently
  • Use a digital voice recorder to record the interview if possible, but make sure that you ask for permission first
  • Explain the purpose and the basic content of the interview. Try to make some ‘small talk’ to put them at ease
  • Talk clearly and be prepared to clarify or explain your questions
  • Adapt to the person and try to build a rapport with them – you don’t have to stick rigidly to the questions if they make an interesting point you’d like to follow up
  • Use a note-book to jot down notes for each question, and any other information they give you which is not directly related to any of your questions – it can be tidied up later
  • Obtain permission to use quotes from them if possible
  • End as you began: politely thanking them for their time

Using the data within an investigation

  • Be selective with what you use: it’s impractical to try to include everything in your report
  • Think about the best ways to represent your main points, for example a table summarising positive and negative comments or a comparison of the opinions of different respondents, for example a developer with a local farmer
  • Include other primary or secondary data where relevant to reinforce and back-up your information
  • Visual representations of the key points can be effective, for example speech bubbles around pictures or a central map

Considerations and possible limitations

  • It may be difficult to arrange an interview – you want to aim to interview the ‘top’ people, for example the developer or site manager and these are busy people! You may not even get a response and have to re-think your tactics
  • Take care if the issue you are investigating is sensitive or controversial. You must strike a balance between getting someone’s opinions and going too far! You do not want to cause offence
  • Be prepared to have certain questions or requests refused
  • Interviews are time consuming; both in terms of preparation, which needs to be carefully done, and the interviews themselves
  • Quantitative results which can be statistically tested are hard to obtain; qualitative results need careful thought with regard to how to use constructively in a way which will add real value to your study


Interview of a developer of a new housing estate:

  1. Will you explain and justify the choice of location please?
  2. Will you please summarise the main outcomes of the EIA into this development?
  3. In what ways have local people been involved in the decision-making process?
  4. In what ways have the findings of the EIA and local people’s opinions influenced the plans for this development?
  5. a.) What impacts do you anticipate during the construction phase of this development, both to the environment and to local people? b.) How will you minimise these impacts?
  6. How will this development help to meet the housing needs of the local area, for all social sectors of the community?

Conducting questionnaires

Use within an investigation

  • Questionnaires are a very common feature of investigations where the opinions of a group of people or different groups of people are relevant
  • They can be used to obtain information about the people themselves (for example a social survey to investigate the characteristics of the population being surveyed), information about patterns and processes (for example the origin of visitors to an amenity or area), or information about opinion, preferences and behaviour. Some questionnaires may involve gathering information on all of these aspects
  • The data collected will not be available from any other source – it is primary data unique to your investigation
  • Questionnaires can be used to assess the level of opposition or support for a development, and to compare different groups of people or different areas around a development such as a quarry
  • They should be used in conjunction with other primary and secondary data rather than in isolation


  • Think carefully about the overall aims of your investigation and how you want your questionnaires to fit in with these aims. Roughly draft some questions and play around with them until you are satisfied. The questions you design should follow some basic rules:
    • Start off with a few general, easy questions to put people at ease. Ask them things like how far they have travelled, or how they have travelled
    • Beware of personal or sensitive questions. You may want find out how old your respondents are as it may be interesting to analyse whether different age groups have different opinions. Age is tricky though – some people are sensitive about their age. The best thing to do is to use categories, for example under 20, 21-30, 31-40 and so on. That way, people don’t have to give their exact age, and can just point to the appropriate category
    • Names and addresses are usually not important, and are not relevant to your study, so leave them out
    • Do not put in embarrassing or irrelevant questions
    • Open questions are those which do not give a choice of answers, so people are free to say what they like in response. For example, questions which ask for an opinion
    • Closed questions are those which have a set choice of answer options for people to select from. People can still be asked for their opinion but must choose from a pre-arranged set of options. This makes it a lot easier to analyse the results
    • Leading questions. It is easy to phrase a question so that it leads the respondent towards a certain response. For example, Do you agree that graffiti is a problem in the park? People are led towards saying yes because of the way the question is worded and phrased. This makes the results biased, and you must therefore think carefully about how you phrase questions
    • Double questions. Avoid asking two in one questions, like Do you think that there should be more litter bins and dog waste bins in the park? What about the person who does not own a dog and is not bothered about dog-waste bins, but does think there is a litter problem? Similarly, avoid double negatives in your questions
    • Keep your questionnaire simple: short and clear questions without ambiguity
  • There are a variety of ways in which the person can mark their choices on a questionnaire – circling, ticking, and ranking. Think about the best method to use for each question; a mixture may make the questionnaire more interesting
  • Think about the length of the questionnaire and the sample size and make-up… Length – You need to find out certain things, but a clear, well-designed questionnaire with unambiguous (mostly) closed questions should not take up too much of peoples’ time. Aim to get what you need to know in no more than 10 questions and try to keep it to one side of A4 if possible. Sample size – Too few respondents and your questionnaire won’t be representative, too many and it’s unrealistic. Try to strike a balance – aim for a 10% sample of the population. The make-up of the sample is an important consideration too. A sampling strategy will need to be identified based on systematic, random or even stratified sampling (if the composition of the population is known and you are interested in examining the results by age or gender)
  • Method of delivery – Is the questionnaire going to be face to face or leave and collect
  • Pilot study – Once you have designed your questionnaire, carry out a pilot study. Ask respondents to tell you if any questions are unclear, leading or biased, sensitive, or if you have missed anything. Think about how easy it will be for you to analyse the results. Make any changes you need before you undertake the real investigation

Carrying out your questionnaire survey

Start each questionnaire by introducing yourself, saying where you are from and what you are doing. Ask people politely if they could spare a few moments to answer your short questionnaire.

While you are asking your questions, remember to:

  • Listen to what they are saying
  • Look interested
  • Respond to comments and be prepared to explain questions if they do not understand
  • Ask for clarification if you do not understand something they have said

Finally, do not be offended or put off if people do not want to stop and answer your questionnaire – people are busy.

Considerations: Limitations and validity

  • Carrying out face-to-face questionnaires can be time consuming
  • Questionnaire fatigue – people are fed up with being stopped in the street
  • People may not be completely honest in their responses – they may be tempted to say what they think sounds good or what they think you want to hear
  • People may not actually know the answer to some questions, for example the distance they have travelled

The sampling strategy may be hard to decide upon and implement in practice

Sampling techniques

What is sampling?

  • A shortcut method for investigating a whole population
  • Data is gathered on a small part of the whole parent population or sampling frame, and used to inform what the whole picture is like

Why sample?

In reality there is simply not enough; time, energy, money, labour/man power, equipment, access to suitable sites to measure every single item or site within the parent population or whole sampling frame.

Therefore an appropriate sampling strategy is adopted to obtain a representative, and statistically valid sample of the whole.

Sampling considerations

  • Larger sample sizes are more accurate representations of the whole
  • The sample size chosen is a balance between obtaining a statistically valid representation, and the time, energy, money, labour, equipment and access available
  • A sampling strategy made with the minimum of bias is the most statistically valid
  • Most approaches assume that the parent population has a normal distribution where most items or individuals clustered close to the mean, with few extremes
  • A 95% probability or confidence level is usually assumed, for example 95% of items or individuals will be within plus or minus two standard deviations from the mean
  • This also means that up to five per cent may lie outside of this – sampling, no matter how good can only ever be claimed to be a very close estimate

Sampling techniques

Three main types of sampling strategy:

  • Random
  • Systematic
  • Stratified

Within these types, you may then decide on a; point, line, area method.

Random sampling

  • Least biased of all sampling techniques, there is no subjectivity – each member of the total population has an equal chance of being selected
  • Can be obtained using random number tables
  • Microsoft Excel has a function to produce random number

The function is simply:

  • =RAND()

Type that into a cell and it will produce a random number in that cell. Copy the formula throughout a selection of cells and it will produce random numbers.

You can modify the formula to obtain whatever range you wish, for example if you wanted random numbers from one to 250, you could enter the following formula:

  • =INT(250*RAND())+1

Where INT eliminates the digits after the decimal, 250* creates the range to be covered, and +1 sets the lowest number in the range.

Paired numbers could also be obtained using;

  • =INT(9000*RAND())+1000

These can then be used as grid coordinates, metre and centimetre sampling stations along a transect, or in any feasible way.


  1. Random point sampling
  • A grid is drawn over a map of the study area
  • Random number tables are used to obtain coordinates/grid references for the points
  • Sampling takes place as feasibly close to these points as possible
  1. Random line sampling
  • Pairs of coordinates or grid references are obtained using random number tables, and marked on a map of the study area
  • These are joined to form lines to be sampled
  1. Random area sampling
  • Random number tables generate coordinates or grid references which are used to mark the bottom left (south west) corner of quadrats or grid squares to be sampled

Fieldwork sampling 1 FW_Techs_sample1Big

Figure one: A random number grid showing methods of generating random numbers, lines and areas.

Advantages and disadvantages of random sampling


  • Can be used with large sample populations
  • Avoids bias


  • Can lead to poor representation of the overall parent population or area if large areas are not hit by the random numbers generated. This is made worse if the study area is very large
  • There may be practical constraints in terms of time available and access to certain parts of the study area

Systematic sampling

Samples are chosen in a systematic, or regular way.

  • They are evenly/regularly distributed in a spatial context, for example every two metres along a transect line
  • They can be at equal/regular intervals in a temporal context, for example every half hour or at set times of the day
  • They can be regularly numbered, for example every 10th house or person


  1. Systematic point sampling

A grid can be used and the points can be at the intersections of the grid lines (A), or in the middle of each grid square (B). Sampling is done at the nearest feasible place. Along a transect line, sampling points for vegetation/pebble data collection could be identified systematically, for example every two metres or every 10th pebble

  1. Systematic line sampling

The eastings or northings of the grid on a map can be used to identify transect lines (C and D) Alternatively, along a beach it could be decided that a transect up the beach will be conducted every 20 metres along the length of the beach

  1. Systematic area sampling

A ‘pattern’ of grid squares to be sampled can be identified using a map of the study area, for example every second/third grid square down or across the area (E) – the south west corner will then mark the corner of a quadrat. Patterns can be any shape or direction as long as they are regular (F)

Fieldwork sampling 2 FW_Techs_sample2Big

Figure two: Systemic sampling grid showing methods of generating systemic points, lines and areas.

Advantages and disadvantages of systematic sampling


  • It is more straight-forward than random sampling
  • A grid doesn’t necessarily have to be used, sampling just has to be at uniform intervals
  • A good coverage of the study area can be more easily achieved than using random sampling


  • It is more biased, as not all members or points have an equal chance of being selected
  • It may therefore lead to over or under representation of a particular pattern

Stratified sampling

This method is used when the parent population or sampling frame is made up of sub-sets of known size. These sub-sets make up different proportions of the total, and therefore sampling should be stratified to ensure that results are proportional and representative of the whole.

  1. Stratified systematic sampling

The population can be divided into known groups, and each group sampled using a systematic approach. The number sampled in each group should be in proportion to its known size in the parent population.

For example: the make-up of different social groups in the population of a town can be obtained, and then the number of questionnaires carried out in different parts of the town can be stratified in line with this information. A systematic approach can still be used by asking every fifth person.

  1. Stratified random sampling

A wide range of data and fieldwork situations can lend themselves to this approach – wherever there are two study areas being compared, for example two woodlands, river catchments, rock types or a population with sub-sets of known size, for example woodland with distinctly different habitats.

Random point, line or area techniques can be used as long as the number of measurements taken is in proportion to the size of the whole.

For example: if an area of woodland was the study site, there would likely be different types of habitat (sub-sets) within it. Random sampling may altogether ‘miss’ one or more of these.

Stratified sampling would take into account the proportional area of each habitat type within the woodland and then each could be sampled accordingly; if 20 samples were to be taken in the woodland as a whole, and it was found that a shrubby clearing accounted for 10% of the total area, two samples would need to be taken within the clearing. The sample points could still be identified randomly (A) or systematically (B) within each separate area of woodland.

Fieldwork sampling 3 FW_Techs_sample3Big

Figure three: A diagram highlighting the benefits of using stratified random sampling and stratified systemic sampling within certain fieldwork sites.

Advantages and disadvantages of stratified sampling


  • It can be used with random or systematic sampling, and with point, line or area techniques
  • If the proportions of the sub-sets are known, it can generate results which are more representative of the whole population
  • It is very flexible and applicable to many geographical enquiries
  • Correlations and comparisons can be made between sub-sets


  • The proportions of the sub-sets must be known and accurate if it is to work properly

It can be hard to stratify questionnaire data collection, accurate up to date population data may not be available and it may be hard to identify people’s age or social background effectively.

Tourism and recreation

Investigating the impact of tourism and recreation


  • To investigate recreational provision in a community or area
  • To investigate the vulnerability (risk of closure) of a particular facility, and the feasibility of it remaining open
  • To survey the need for a particular type of facility or amenity
  • To compare the perceptions of recreational facilities amongst residents and visitors
  • To investigating diurnal and seasonal variations in the use of recreational facilities, for example high and low seasons in a tourist resort
  • To study the impact of new developments on the tourist industry in an area
  • To investigate the causes and effects of honey-pot sites
  • To investigate the provision and quality urban open spaces
  • To conduct cost and quality surveys of recreational facilities
  • To investigate the impact of a stadium on match days or a theme park on the local area
  • To investigate the benefits of tourism to the local area


  • Digital camera and sketching materials
  • Interview/questionnaire sheets
  • Base maps for recording land use and (tourist) facilities
  • Conflict matrix
  • User tally charts
  • Environmental quality and perception study sheets



  • Sketch or photograph the sites and annotate with the main features and additional information
  • Conduct land use surveys to record the location of facilities, colour coding them according to type. Label the main access routes and supporting infrastructure, for example car parks
  • Obtain secondary information on the site or facility that you are studying, for example historical photos showing changes in land-use, newspaper articles, tourist leaflets and price lists. Use this information to compare current and past provision
  • Comment on the quality of the provision and identify any ‘weak’ or ‘lacking’ areas. Outline the need for further provision. Completing perception surveys will support your comments


  • Carry out pedestrian counts (this can also be done by age or gender) at different times of the day or year (if you are comparing high and low season) and in different weather conditions
  • From a vantage point, observe the movements of people and plot these on a base map. For example, the movement of people from the car park at a honey pot site. Again, pedestrian movements can be classified according to age, gender or family group and the type of activity they are undertaking. Surveys can be carried out at different times of the day and under different weather conditions
  • Survey tax disks in the car park to estimate the distance people have travelled to the site. Bear in mind that many drivers now purchase their tax discs online so it’s harder to trace where they come from, but as an alternative, the new style registration plates can be traced to the vehicle’s point of sale
  • Conduct questionnaires with visitors to the site to more accurately establish the distance they have travelled, the frequency and reasons for their visit, and their opinions about the site


  • Develop and complete a conflict matrix for the site (see Figure one). Write all possible users of the site along both axes and complete by adding a tick if there is potential conflict between the users, and a cross if there is not

Fieldwork tourism FW_Tech_Tour1big

Figure one

  • Support the findings of your conflict matrix with perception surveys, for example adjectival pairs or bi-polar analysis to gain user perceptions and compare the opinions of residents and tourists
  • Complete environmental quality surveys and collect data on noise pollution and footpath erosion
  • Use your results to identify issues and inform possible management suggestions for the future of the site

Considerations and possible limitations

  • A clear focus for the project should be established. The scale of the study should be large enough to be representative but not so large as to be unmanageable and lack focus
  • There is a time issue with comparing high and low seasons
  • Conflict matrices are subjective
  • It can be very difficult to organise interviews with site managers or to obtain information from attractions on their visitor numbers or profit margins

Investigating the impact of new tourism and recreation developments


  • To investigate derelict areas and possible uses for these areas
  • To study the impacts of local developments and projects and how these impacts are managed
  • To investigate conservation strategies in honey-pot sites and vulnerable areas, including the effectiveness of existing strategies and potential future methods
  • To assess the management of an open farm compared to a working farm
  • To compare visitor management at a range of major attractions


  • Base maps
  • Digital camera
  • Field sketching materials
  • Other primary data to support the study, for example environmental quality surveys, landscape evaluations, noise surveys, conflict matrices and questionnaires
  • Secondary data, for example interviews with site managers and planners, historical photographs and maps of the site, newspaper articles and visitor number statistics


  1. 1. Make sketches or take photographs of the site and annotate with the main features and landmarks, existing management strategies and key issues or problems.
  2. 2. Compare the current site with historical photographs and maps, statistics on visitor numbers over time and archive newspaper articles to:
    • Identify changes which have taken place in land use and the provision of services over time
    • Identify changes in the level of usage and number of people visiting the facility over time
    • Identify any past issues and determine the extent to which they have been addressed
    • Survey existing strategies to manage visitor impact, for example by interviewing with planners to find out when and why strategies were implemented, the costs involved with building and maintenance and any future plans
  3. Investigate people’s perceptions of the management techniques being used and what they think should be done in the future – through questionnaires and bi-polar analysis and agreement surveys.
  4. Evaluate the overall success or effectiveness of existing strategies. It is possible, with sufficient data, to conduct a cost – benefit analysis (CBA) where the costs of building and maintenance over the lifetime of a project are compared with the costs of doing nothing. For example, the costs of doing nothing on a stretch of coastline can be investigated by finding out retreat rates and mapping the coastline in 20, 30, 50, 100 years and by considering the loss of land and amenities and infrastructure.

Considerations and possible limitations

  • When conducting a CBA it is very hard to accurately measure all costs, many are intangible and a figure cannot be placed on them. However, a simple CBA can be carried out if enough data is available to support it
  • It is important to get a balanced view when carrying out questionnaires. Many different parties may have a vested interest and need to be represented. Stratified sampling techniques will help to ensure that all views are represented
  • As much data as possible should be collected in order to properly and fairly evaluate the management strategies
  • Information should be used to inform your own suggestions and comments

Perception data is subjective

Section A – coasts and hazards

Only planning and data collection will be tested for Section A questions. This involves:

•Choosing a subject and location
•Identifying a hypothesis to test
•Deciding on the data required (remember data is not just numbers – its pictures, annotated sketches, maps, surveys, results of questionnaires – in fact any information related to the investigation)
•Choosing a data collection technique
•Risk assessment
•Data collection strategy – what will you do?
•Sampling method
•Data gathering/recording
•Identify secondary data where applicable

What do you need to know for coastal environments:

●Beach measurements, eg profiles and sediments
●Surveying peoples’ views on the management of pressured and/or retreating coastlines

What is sampling?

A ‘short-cut’ method for investigating a whole population

The sum total of all the things you are trying to measure – Data is gathered is a small part of the whole ‘parent population’ or ‘sampling frame’ and used to inform what the whole picture is like.

Why sample?
In reality there is simply not enough:
●Labour / man power

Three main types of sampling strategy:
1. Random
2. Systematic
3. Stratified

What need to be measured?

• The length, height and slope of the beach, the size, shape and distribution of the particles making up the beach.
• This will usually be carried out using one or more transects
As safety is less of an issue, then systematic sampling will be best.


•To measure the angle of a slope between two points you need two or three people.
•Identify a slope unit between two breaks of slope. Measure this distance.
•Person A stands at the bottom of the slope with the clinometer resting on top of a ranging pole.
•Person B holds a second ranging pole at the top of the slope.
•Person A sights the clinometer at the top of the ranging pole held by B and reads off the slope angle.
•Angles going uphill are recorded as positive (+) angles and downhill as negative (-) ones. Measuring the angle of a slope at regular intervals is more straightforward, but it tends to hide the small variations in slope which can be important on a beach.
•Measuring from break of slope to break of slope means that you have to estimate where the slope angles change. This means that you normally end up taking more slope readings, but the profile that you draw is more accurate.

Measure pebble size and shape a various points on the beach

•If there is a single large groyne or jetty, take pebble measurements and profile readings at frequent intervals on both sides of the groyne. If there is a series of groynes on a beach, take pebble measurements and profile readings on either side of each groyne and at distances in between. At each interval, take a vertical transect from the sea shore up to at least the high-tide mark. Use a tape measure or ranging poles to ensure that you keep to a straight line.
•At 2m intervals up the beach, place a quadrant on the surface, and use this to select 10 stones from the surface. Measure the shape and size of each stone.

Attitude questionnaire

•Whilst you are expected to talk about unbiased clear closed questions from which you can collect data, it might be interesting to say that this type of questioning is usually more useful if you want to find out facts – how old are you? How many cars do you own? How often do you go to the supermarket?
•That what people feel is much more difficult to find out by this method – and that discussion groups can be much more informative, but recording the results of those is more open to be influenced by what the person chairing the discussion thought!

Issues with closed questions

•Ensure they are not biased
•Make sure there are enough options to cover most answers – think about whether you need ‘other’ as well as ‘don’t know/have no opinion’ or whether these can be combined.
•Only have yes/no where it is really relevant.
•May like to use graduated box answers for opinions (1 totally disagree to 5 strongly agree).


Describe a fieldwork study to investigate the beach profile at C. You may use diagrams to help your answer.(6)
Describe the fieldwork techniques you would use to investigate people’s opinions on the coastal protection methods shown in Figures 2a and 2b.(6)


Measuring, collecting and recording weather data:
During the passage of a tropical storm, local weather stations will record an enormous increase in wind speed and rainfall.
Instrument area is used to measure local weather conditions in calmer, drier conditions-providing primary data.
Care and accuracy important when measuring weather-instrument itself has to be suitable as well as its use accurate.
You Should have an easy to complete record sheet showing date, time and columns for each element of the weather you have instruments for. Eg maximum/minimum temperature and rainfall.
Records should be kept daily and for at least a week. Readings should be taken preferably at same time each day.

Rain Gauge:
It should be placed in open space so it can collect rain water straight from the sky.
Rain is collected in a measuring flask and the measurement can be read easily.
Once reading is noted, the water has to be tipped away daily.

Stevenson Screen:
Instruments used to measure temperature and humidity should be kept inside a Stevenson Screen.
It’s a wooden box used to shade from direct sunlight and radiation so that the instruments inside can measure air temperature.
It’s painted white to reflect sunlight and has vents to allow free flow of air. This makes the readings fair.
Maximum-minimum thermometer housed inside measures the highest and lowest temperature, often within a 24-hour period. –weather data should be standardised.
Readings have to be taken so that they can be compared with those taken at other places and at other times.
After noting temperature readings, the thermometer has to be reset by sliding the magnetic base over the mercury columns.

Cup Anemometer and wind valve:
Wind valve measures wind direction.Cup anemometer is a weather instrument that measures wind speed/strength.
There are 3 to 4 cups mounted on a vertical pole. The cups catch the blowing wind and turn the pole.
Each time the anemometer makes a full rotation, the wind speed is measured by the number of revolutions per minute (RPM).
The number of revolutions is recorded over time and an average is determined.

Displaying the information

Questions you may be asked

•Describe how you would collect and record wind speed and precipitation data.
•Explain the benefits of using a Stevenson’s screen in weather recording. What information could be obtained from it?


•Name the instrument, explain how it works – and in particular if there are design features that aid in the accuracy of the measurements.
•If it asks for recording details, give a variety not just ‘a table’ or ‘a bar chart’ – could possibly sketch a graph showing axes etc.

Explain the benefits of using a Stevenson’s screen in weather recording. What information could be obtained from it? (6)

Describe a survey of the peoples’ views on the management of a hazard event. (6)

Section B – economic activities and energy & urban environments


•Only planning and presentation and limitations will be tested for Section B questions. This involves:
•Choosing a subject and location
•Identifying a hypothesis to test
•Deciding on the data required
•Choosing a data collection technique
•Risk assessment
•Data collection strategy – what will you do?
•Sampling method
•Data gathering/recording
•Identify secondary data where applicable

•Presentation & Analysis
•Draw CONCLUSIONS – relating to the initial HYPOTHESIS
•Limitations & Evaluation
Assess the LIMITATIONS of the process and suggest IDEAS FOR IMPROVING THE ENQUIRY.

What you will need to know

Economic activity and energy:
●Reasons for the location of factories or services.
●Investigating peoples’ views on the use of renewable and non-renewable energy.

Urban environments:
●Land Use survey.
●Environmental Quality Survey

Location of factories or services.
Choosing locations – health and safety

Could be a single firm or a whole business area (business park, shopping centre)
●The latter would give you a greater range of data and so it would be easier to come to general conclusion
•Collecting data could be accomplished by interviews of senior members of staff
•Alternatively, by using maps of the area around the factory(s) or service(s) should be carefully mapped e.g. population, road network, land availability etc – from that you should be able to tease out the main reasons.

What you might be asked

•1. Study Figure X a table which shows the results of a fieldwork investigation on a business park.
•(i) Use the data to complete the missing bars on the graph in Y. (2 marks)
•(ii) What conclusions can be drawn from Figures X & Y

Urban environments:

•Land Use transect
●Planning: Decide on a transect from CBD to outer part of the town that passes through a variety of areas
●prepare a key and a map
●Count off every 10 or whatever paces and record – this is Systematic Sampling?

Survey the following aspects of an urban area:
RICE POTS Stands for:
•Public Buildings
•Open Spaces

A graphic representation of a transect

Environmental Quality Survey

●Designing the environmental qualitative bi-polar sheet is key – piloting to see that differences on places show up essential
●Make sure you group the negative points together on one side and positive on the other
●Try to include only qualities that are obviously positive or negative
●Try to include the road/pavement, the buildings, other parts of visual environment (that could plants/trees or litter/graffiti), noise/ air quality

1. Some students investigated land use in three different areas of Singapore: Orchard Road,
Dunlop Street and East Coast Parkway. Figure 1 shows a page from one student’s
The table shows the annotations for Dunlop Street. Write the letters A to F in the correct box on Figure 1. B has been done for you.

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