ENVU6IC: Iceland Field Course

The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjalljokull, southern Iceland.
The 2010 eruption of Eyjafjalljokull,
southern Iceland.

Coordinator:Dr Bob McCulloch
Contributor:Dr Eileen Tisdall

The Icelandic landscape is highly dynamic which provides an opportunity for us to study geological, geomorphological, glaciological and ecological processes at work.  We can see how over the last 1000 years humans have tried to live alongside volcanic and fluvio-glacial hazards and with climate change. 

Is the field course any good?

“…thanks for all your help with our project. I'd also like to say how much I enjoyed the course. I may never get the chance to go back to Iceland, so it really was a trip of a lifetime! (ENVU6IC student 2014)

Here is some basic information about the Iceland field course but more detail will be provided at an introductory meeting at the start of the autumn semester (tba) and the full module outline available on Succeed.

When will the course run?

The Iceland field course will run in the spring semester 2015 (after the examination period).  The dates are the 5th June to the 12th June, 2015.  You are free to book your flights on the days before and after the field course. 

What will the course involve?

The course will run for 8 days (7 nights) and involve three look-see days where as a class we will explore some of the key features (landforms, glaciers, river systems and conservation areas) in the landscape around southern Iceland and discuss how they help us understand environmental change.

The class will divide into small groups (3 or 4 students) to undertake a research project chosen and designed by the group.  The project will then be carried out in the field over three days.  Iceland provides a unique opportunity to take sequential measurements and understand processes in the field. However, the project topics can be varied.  The choice of project, methodology and analysis will be supported by tutorials with your project supervisor during the spring semester and staff will be on hand during the field course to offer guidance.

How will the course be assessed? 

  • A project outline (1,000 words) providing aims and objectives and a brief description of methodology and equipment required (10%).  To be submitted before 12:00 Monday 27th April, 2015.
  • A 1 hour exam (including short answer questions, multiple choice and sketches). The questions will be based on the material covered on the look-see days and the exam is held on the last day of the field course (15%).
  • An individual project report (~4000 words) based on your research project (75%).  To be submitted before 12:00 Monday 6th July, 2015.

Where will the field course be in Iceland?

We leave Reykjavik centre at 10:00am on the 5th June, 2015, and then drive east of Reykjavik along the south coast to the province of Heimaland near Eyjafjallajokull (the ice capped volcano on the Mid-Atlantic ridge, see map).  We return to Reykjavik in the evening of the 12th June, 2015.

Tectonic plate boundaries and major volcanoes of Iceland
Tectonic plate boundaries and major volcanoes of Iceland

The area is very rural with isolated farms and a few small villages.  We will be in the field during the day walking over rough terrain and the weather can be mixed.  It can be hot and sunny or we can experience a few north Atlantic storms.

Heimaland Community Centre, Seljaland.

Heimaland Community Centre, Seljaland.

What will the accommodation be like?

To keep costs at a minimum we use the Heimaland Community Centre.  The accommodation is basic; sleeping bag accommodation on mattresses on floors in separate male and female areas.  There are separate female and male communal showers.  The community centre has large kitchen facilities and we cook our own meals (We can cater for any dietary requirements.

How much will it cost?

Iceland is not cheap but the main costs are flights and vehicle hire.  The bigger the group the cheaper the accommodation becomes.  The estimate of costs based on a group of ~16 students is a total of £825 each.  The university will provide a subsidy for each student (the same for the Spanish field course).  Therefore, the total cost to each student will be £475 (not including flights) plus students book their own flights and any additional accommodation before and after the field course.  This enables students to benefit from cheaper flights and to independently explore Iceland either before or after the field course.  If you are in Reykjavik before the course please note we will be visiting Ŧingvellir, Geyser but not Gullfoss, though we do see other waterfalls.

Students on Land rovers after last project day (2014)
Students on Land rovers after last project day (2014)
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