Summer 2024 - GEOG 310 D100

Physical Geography Field Course (4)

Class Number: 1474

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2024: Wed, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2024: Wed, 1:30–3:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    GEOG 213 and one of GEOG 214 or 215. Prerequisite or Corequisite: One of GEOG 311, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317 or 319.



A twelve-day field camp with a focus on various measuring, surveying, recording and mapping skills in branches of physical geography. A selected project will be completed either by a team or by an individual. Field camp locations will vary from year to year. The timing for the camp might not follow the traditional course schedule, please read the outline carefully for further information.


A two-week field course to the southern Okanagan, BC to learn and demonstrate a range of data collection methods from across physical geography sub-disciplines (soil science, biogeography, meteorology and climatology, hydrology, geomorphology). Field school will take place June 12-24, 2024, with weekly in-class instruction and on-campus field work training taking place leading up to departure.

Physical Geography (and geosciences in general) is a large and multidisciplinary subject, focused on complex interactions between various components of the Earth System. Investigations are frequently field based and involve a huge number of methods and techniques to collect data. This course brings students prior understanding from across physical geography to practice data collection in field conditions, and in so doing will strengthen appreciation of the interrelated components of the Earth System at the field site.

Be aware that during the field trips there may be periods of strenuous hiking, crossing roads with busy traffic and general activities in remote and/or challenging terrain. A full discussion of the associate risks and their mitigation will take place in the first meeting of the semester; participation in course activities requires students to sign an Acknowledgement of Risk (waiver) form. Students are expected to be vigilant of risks and follow all instruction related to health and safety. Students are expected to maintain appropriate medical coverage. If you have any concerns, please contact the instructor before enrolling.

Mandatory course fees partially covers accommodation and transportation cost. Students should expect to pay $340 to the Geography Department to cover additional costs associated with the trip.

Teck Field Station, owned and managed by UBC EOAS department in the southern Okanagan Valley near Oliver, BC. Field activities will take place around the southern Okanagan, with a principal field site forming the key location for student research projects.

The field school will take place on the traditional territories of the Sylix peoples of the Okanagan nations.

Field School: June 12 – June 24, 2024.

                                Other meeting dates:

Weekly class meetings for planning, classroom instruction and group discussion: May 6-June 7, SFU Burnaby Campus.

Surveying and navigation exercises: June 10 and 11, SFU Burnaby Campus.

Students must be able to attend all scheduled dates. Please note that field school overlaps with scheduled classes and exams for the Intersession period; there will be no opportunity to sit remote exams for other courses during the field school. Field school ends before the start of Summer Session (June 25) and the course will continue to the end of July to allow completion of the field report; you will be expected to contribute to your group project in this time. There are no scheduled in-person meetings for the course after June 24, but the instructor will be available for meetings and discussions during this time.

Accommodation and Catering:
UBC Teck Geological Field Station:

Student accommodation at the field camp will comprise five communal expedition shelters with cot-style beds. Designated single-gender accommodations will be maintained throughout the field school.

Large shower/WC block.

Large multi-purpose meeting and dining space.

Full catering will be provided, with a range of breakfast, lunch and supper options. Dietary requirements and preferences will be accommodated provided these are stated at the start of the course.

Equipment Needed:
All specialist scientific equipment needed for the field school will be provided.

Waterproof notebooks will be provided to each student at the start of the course. Additional stationery (pens, pencils, etc.) will be the responsibility of each student.

Students will be expected to bring the following:

  • Sleeping bag and pillow. Sleeping bags rated around 0°C should be sufficient for the expected summer conditions.
  • Appropriate outdoor clothing for 2 weeks. Weather is expected to be warm and dry, but sudden downpours are likely. Base layers should be loose, light coloured and ideally cotton, but additional layers for cooler and/or wet weather are required to be carried on day trips. Comfortable clothing for evening work is also recommended.
  • Appropriate footwear. Sturdy, comfortable outdoor footwear is essential for field work. Ankle support is highly recommended to minimize ankle sprains. Lightweight hiking boots are ideal. Comfortable footwear for the evenings is also recommended.
  • Due to limited space, students are limited to three items of luggage: 1) a bag containing their bedding; 2) a large bag/duffel/backpack with their clothing, washing supplies, etc.; 3) a small backpack/daypack with additional sundry items for daily field work.
  • Students may choose to bring larger electronic devices (laptops, tablets, etc.) as part of their allotted luggage, but their safety cannot be guaranteed for the duration of the field and will be at each student’s own risk. A number of SFU Geography laptops will be available for student to use as required.
  • Small additional items for entertainment or personal comfort (e.g. books, games, etc.) may be brought if students have space in their packs.

Note: occasional trips through local towns will allow brief opportunities to purchase some missing items but should not be relied upon.

Student conduct and support:
Students must at all times remain compliant with all student responsibilities, regulations, and policies as outlined in the current Academic Calendar, as well as relevant regulations and policies as outlined in the SFU Policy Gazette. This includes, but is not limited to, expected student conduct and the maintenance of appropriate medical insurance coverage. Students will sign an Assumption of Risk (waiver) form prior to field work. Students will also read and sign a Field Activity Plan outlining the expected risks and mitigation for field work.

Academic integrity:
Students are responsible for upholding a high standard of academic integrity for all course submissions. Examples of academic dishonesty include plagiarism, collusion, resubmission, fabrication of data, uploading or downloading from homework sharing websites, use of notes in a closed-book examination, use of AI/LLM-generated responses, etc. All work you submit must be your own; this includes proper citation of previously published work where appropriate, and ensuring work completed as a group is presented in your own words. Any examples of academic dishonesty will receive penalties as per SFU policy and procedure S 10.01. This may include warnings, being required to resubmit the assignment, reductions in assignment marks and/or failure of the assignment.

Students should be familiar with all SFU policy on Academic Honesty. For information, visit:

Bullying, harassment and interpersonal conflict:
Bullying, harassment and threats or acts of intimidation and aggression of any kind to any faculty, staff, instructors, TAs or other students will not be tolerated. Be respectful of other people’s opinions and beliefs; disagreements should be resolved in the spirit of fair and respectful debate, and should be limited to course material. If you do not feel comfortable approaching the alleged bully/harasser, report to the TA, instructor, Geography department chair or appropriate University body (e.g. Human Rights and Equity Office). For full information on SFU policy on bullying and harassment, visit

Due to the extended periods of close proximity in the field environment and during group assignments, interpersonal conflict can be a concern. Students are expected to attempt to deescalate conflict with their peers as much as possible in the spirit of cooperation and compromise. If a student feels they are unable to appropriately manage an interpersonal conflict, they should approach any of the course leaders (instructor, TA or staff) in confidence.


Familiarity with surveying, navigation, cartography skills (e.g., Total Station, engineer’s level, dGPS, handheld GPS, map reading, compass navigation and triangulation, pacing, etc.).

Practice and experience with field techniques across a range of physical geography subdisciplines (e.g. stream gauging, soil sampling, sedimentology, geomorphic mapping, ecological surveys, hydrological and meteorological measurements, lake sampling, etc.).

Scientific research experience (hypothesis generation and testing, experiment design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, etc.).

Direct field experience (e.g., project planning, teamwork, communication and cooperation, equipment preparation and maintenance, adaptability, working in inclement weather, etc.).

Deeper appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of Geography and the systems approach to landscape studies.


  • Group Project 35%
  • Field Activities 65%


Group Project (35%)

Four field project groups (4-5 students) will be formed on the first day of class, with each focusing on a different physical geography sub-discipline (e.g., weather/climate, hydrology, biogeography, soils/geomorphology). Each student will state at least two preferred sub-disciplines, with every effort made to assign each student to one of these preferred groups. During field school, each project group will lead a day of data collection for the whole class to test a hypothesis they formulate. Groups will then work to analyse and interpret their data in a written report to be submitted around 4 weeks after the conclusion of the field trip.

Group project grading:

10% Project Proposal: Around 2 weeks prior to departure, each project group will submit a short written proposal, stating their hypothesis and intended methodology for testing it.

5% Project Presentation: Each project group will present their proposal as a short (10 minutes) presentation to the rest of the class, with an opportunity for the class to ask questions.

20% Group Report Submission: The final project report will be produced as a group, but each member will be formally responsible for one major component of the final submission. Each member will receive 10% for their course grade for the quality of the whole group report, and 10% for the quality of their own contribution.

Field Activities (65%)

50% daily field work exercises: Most field days will include an activity leading to submission of written work (notebooks, data presentation/interpretation, etc.). Submissions may be graded individually or as small groups.

5% monitoring data collection: The whole class will be responsible for daily data collection at the field school accommodation for the duration of the field school. Data will be graphed and briefly interpreted individually as a final notebook submission at the end of field school.

10% skills log completion: each student will familiarize themselves with key skills related to equipment use, navigation, surveying, etc. by completing a skills log, signed by instructional staff or student peers when each skill is demonstrated.

Late assignments:
Penalties of 10% per day (or part thereof) will apply to late assignments. Accommodations for late or missing assignments may be allowed for justifiable reasons if discussed with the instructor prior to deadlines (at least 24 hours).



GEOG 310 Field Activities Manual – will be distributed at the start of the course.
Additional readings will be posted to Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.