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Friday's feature: Field work - preparation, best practice and locality guides

Geoscience is not a subject that can be understood properly just by staying in the classroom or lecture theatre - many concepts and case studies are best appreciated by a fieldtrip to see rocks and structures in situ.

This article aims to bring together some of the sources of information which teachers and students will find useful.

Guided Geowalks

The Geological Society

Visit our fieldtrip resources for our Fieldwork Code and other useful links such as the International Commission on Stratigraphy (for the currently accepted version of the stratigraphic time scale. You can also view our fieldguide to Gower.

The Geologists' Association

This charitable membership body for professional and amateur enthusiasts of all ages includes the junior club 'Rockwatch'. Visit their website to view:

  • Their series of geology guides, including the new title for 2012, 'Geology of the Dorset coast'
  • A code of conduct for rock coring

Earth Science Education Unit (ESEU)

Based at the University of Keele, ESEU has produced a booklet called 'Any quarry guide: good questions to ask and answers at a quarry, cliff or rock face'. This is aimed at Keystage 3 teachers and trainee teachers.

Field Studies Council (FSC)

The FSC runs 17 educational/field centres throughout the UK, most of which cater for residential courses. They are found at classic localities such as Orielton (Pembrokeshire coast); Malham Tarn; and Blencathra in the Lake District. The FSC has also produced an extensive list of operational Codes of Practice (eg Outdoor behaviour code); and publications for sale for teachers, students and environmental professionals.

Geoconservation UK

Geoconservation UK is made up of the membership of RIGS groups across the British Isles and exists to promote RIGS for education and public benefit. RIGS sites (Regionally Important Geological/Geomorphological sites) are the most important places for geology and geomorphology outside statutorily protected land such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Visit the website for all information about SSSIs, RIGS sites, and the whole spectrum of conservation categories both in the UK and internationally.

Recently Geoconservation UK has been engaged on the Earth Science on-site project, an online resource that provides downloadable materials ready for use in the classroom or field for Keystages 2, 3 and 4. For each of 16 sites there are details of work to do in school before setting off on fieldwork; maps, photographs and worksheets to use for the field trip; and follow-up/extension activities for afterwards. Full details can be found at

Royal Geographical Society

The RGS offers advice on field based training under the heading 'Geography outdoors', including details of British Standard BS8848 for Overseas Expeditions and Fieldwork.

Coming soon...

Maggie Williams, Chair of the Earth Science Teacher's Association, is producing an online resources dealing with preparation for geology fieldwork and the associated safety issues. It is aimed at undergraduate geology students, but would be helpful for AS/A Level geology students too. Funded by GEES (the Higher Education Academy subject centre for Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences) it is due to be published shortly (October/November 2012).