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Geography at Penryn Campus: New postgraduate students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

Postgraduate taught students

A very warm welcome to the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science (CGES).

Congratulations on securing your place here – we look forward to meeting you, and hope you will enjoy a rewarding and challenging academic experience with us.

Please take time to look through the induction information on this page to prepare you for the start of term.

On this page: Welcome from the Head of Department | Online induction | Who we are | Contact us | Our communityAcademic inductionSupport and welfare | Learning environments | Assessments and reading 

We will be updating this page regularly as new details of induction and welcome activities are released. Please ensure you check back here frequently for updates, as well as your personal email account, new University of Exeter email account, and your My Timetable for the most up-to-date information from us. (Please note you need to register with the University and activate your IT account to access My Timetable.) If you have any questions about your induction or starting your studies, please contact your Info Point using the details on this page.

1. Welcome from Head of Department

Meet your Head of Department, Professor James Scourse.

2. Department online induction

The online induction is all about helping you to feel confident and happy during your first couple of weeks and will provide further detailed information about studying with us.

3. Who we are

The Centre for Geography and Environmental Science sits as a discipline within the Department of Earth and Environmental Science (EES), alongside the Camborne School of Mines (CSM) and the Environmental Mathematics Group (EMG). The Earth and Environmental Science department is a part of the larger Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy (FESE).

Let’s introduce you to some of the key people in our department who’ll be supporting you through your programme of study. Most of our academic members of staff (or ‘faculty’ as they are sometimes called) split their time between teaching and research, with some also taking on additional administrative roles.

Programme Directors

Each programme (e.g. MSc Sustainable Development) is led by a Programme Director, whose job it is to oversee the running of the programme and to liaise with all of the Module Tutors to ensure that you make good progress. You might need to contact them with any programme-level concerns, and they may also be able to advise you on your module choices.

Dr Rachel Turner

Rachel is the programme director for MSc Sustainable Development, MRes Sustainable Futures and MSc Marine and Coastal Sustainability.

Dr Markus Mueller

Markus is the programme director for MSc Applied Data Science (Environment and Sustainability), hosted by the Environmental Maths Group.

As soon as you arrive, you’ll be allocated your own dedicated Academic Tutor who will be your first point of contact if you have any queries or concerns about your overall progress and wellbeing. Across the university you may also see these referred to as ‘Personal Tutors’ or ‘Academic Personal Tutors’, but it’s all the same role.

You’ll be invited to attend regular meetings with them throughout the academic year, starting in week 2, and it’s important that you go along, even if for a very quick chat to confirm that all is well. You can also contact your Academic Tutor at any time by email or by visiting them during their weekly office hours.

The relationship you build up with your tutor is an important one, not least because they will sometimes be the person who writes references for you when you start applying for jobs or other positions such as internships.

This short video outlines some of the benefits of our tutoring system:

Your degree is made up of a number of different short courses called ‘modules’. Most of these run across a single term and are each worth 15 credits towards your degree; some will run across more than one term (such as your final dissertation).

Each module is led by a named academic member of staff, but some are taught by a team of tutors who share the lectures and seminars. You can seek advice from your Module Tutors during their weekly office hours, which will be displayed on their university profile webpage and on the module’s ELE page.

4. Contacting us

You can find a complete list of all staff in the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science here, including office locations and contact details. We are a friendly department with an open-door policy – don’t be afraid to knock!

Find us on social media here!

5. Our community

Here in CGES we value our welcoming, inclusive environment and the positive relationships between our staff and students. We pride ourselves on the community we have built and throughout the year we hold both academic and social events to allow for our department to come together, celebrate achievements and build those important connections.

Previous events have included daytrips, talks from alumni, research seminars, campus walks, beach bbqs, documentary screenings, pizza nights, careers advice webinars, beach cleans and rounders games! Make sure you keep an eye on your University of Exeter email and our CGES social media accounts for information on our upcoming activities.

We also send out a fortnightly newsletter to share recent achievements of both staff and students, upcoming events and opportunities.

There are also many different societies you can join during your time at the Penryn campus. There are a range of different sports and general interest societies, but also many that relate to your degree and enable you to gain valuable skills which will contribute to your university experience. You can look out for GEMS (Geography, Environment and Marine Science) Society during Freshers’ Week.

6. Your academic induction

During Welcome Week (18-22 September) you will have some scheduled induction meetings to get to know the department.

Full details about these sessions will appear in your timetable in the iExeter app very soon. If on arrival you are unsure when your induction meetings are, please ask at the Information Point.

The purpose of academic induction is to introduce you to your academic programme, complete any necessary pre-registration tasks, familiarise yourself with your academic buildings, and meet fellow students and the academic staff for your subjects. 

7. Support and Welfare

The Penryn Info Point is your first port of call for the Education Support Services Team, the Welfare Team and the Student Records/Exams Team or anything else related to your academic studies.

You can find a complete list of all staff in the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science here, including office locations and contact details.

The new students website includes everything you need to know about starting University, with a handy checklist of tasks to help you through your first term.

» New students

The Compass is your first port of call for non-academic support and access to Student Services.

Your welfare

8. Learning environments

Let’s take a look at the different types of learning environments you’ll experience in CGES.

It’s important to realise that the teaching you’ll have on your timetable is just a fraction of the time you’ll spend learning. Our expectation is that you are (or are becoming) an independent learner, and you should expect to take on the responsibility for much of your learning while at university.

What is synchronous learning?

Some taught sessions will be synchronous – this means that your module tutor and all or part of the class will be interacting at the same time, either on campus or online. Synchronous sessions will run at a time and date specified in your timetable.

It is very important that you make sure that you attend and participate in all of the timetabled synchronous sessions for your module. Your timetabled sessions are opportunities for you to benefit from the expertise of our academic staff, who are there to inspire and guide your exploration of the module content rather than closely dictate what you need to do to pass your assessments.

What is asynchronous learning?

Some work set will be asynchronous – this is material that you will interact with in your own private study time, either on your own or in groups. It is important that you plan ahead to allow yourself enough time to complete asynchronous work you’ll need to develop good time management skills to succeed.

This way of studying might be quite different to how you’ve learnt in the past. It will involve regularly checking ELE pages and your University email inbox, so you might find that it takes a short while to adapt.

A presentation or talk on a particular topic, led by a module tutor, and often involving some interactive tasks or opportunities for discussion. In most cases lecture slides will be available to view beforehand and lectures will often be recorded and made available for you to view in your own time online. In CGES the number of students timetabled to attend a lecture can usually vary from 20 to 100.

Lectures often provide an overview of a subject and form the basis for further reading and thought in your own study time. You may also be expected to complete some prior reading on the designated topic, or to follow up with activities to consolidate your learning. This will help you to get the most from the session.

Seminars are sessions that focus on a particular topic or piece of assigned work, and where students interact with each other and the tutor as they work through tasks. Many seminars in CGES will require you to complete preparatory work beforehand, sometimes in groups. You are also likely to be asked to make significant contributions to the sessions, either via discussion or presentations. Seminars usually have no more than 40 students in attendance, and often the number is closer to 20. 

'Workshop' is sometimes a synonym for ‘seminar’ but also used to describe a practical session where you acquire or practise a new skill or technique. Our Academic Development Workshops provide opportunities to learn more about (and practice) particular academic, IT or technical skills, for example.

If English isn’t your first language, you can also attend Language Workshops to improve your fluency and confidence in using English in an academic setting.

Some modules involve analysing data using specialist software installed on computers on campus. Computer practical sessions are run in specialist computer rooms, with module staff guiding you through the process of learning how to analyse and visualise data.

Some modules may include laboratory practicals or demonstrations, taking place in our teaching labs on campus. A full lab induction and health and safety training will be provided prior to any laboratory teaching.

Fieldwork is an important part of our programmes, taking learning outside the classroom to explore the incredible landscapes in the region and beyond. Many modules will include day trips with opportunities to get hands-on experience of field work and learn in the environments that you are studying, and in each year of your study there will also be a dedicated residential field course module. 

You will also have one-to-one or small group tutorials where an Academic Personal Tutor supports your learning on a specific topic. These will start in week 2 and are designed to introduce you to academic practice in higher education and prepare you for the years ahead.

Alongside your work on modules you’ll have regular meetings with your Academic Personal Tutor, who will supervise your overall progress and wellbeing. You might also have meetings with your Module Tutors during their weekly Office Hours, or by appointment with other members of staff who can support you through your time at Exeter.


We intend to run our taught sessions in person as normal this year; however, if necessary due to changes in government guidelines, we are prepared for online learning.

9. Assessments and reading

Your degree is made up of a number of different short courses called ‘modules’. Each module will have two main types of assessment – formative and summative.

Summative assessments are given a mark which will contribute towards your grade for that module, and for your final grade for that year of study.

Formative assessments do not count towards your final grade but are a chance for you to assess your progress, and to receive feedback to help you improve your work in the future.

For each module there will be two or three summative assessments and regular formative assessments during the term. It is important that you complete all assessments – both summative and formative – for each module that you are taking.

Module tutors will provide feedback for each assessment, with help and advice on how you can improve your marks in the future.

In CGES your assessments take a variety of forms, but include the following:

  • Essays
  • Reflective reports
  • Research diaries
  • Individual and group presentations
  • Posters
  • Exams 
  • Field reports.

More information can be obtained about specific assessment types by looking at the relevant ELE page for each module.

The University of Exeter takes academic integrity and academic honesty very seriously. Academic integrity and honesty is at the core of what it is to be a member of the university. This means that no student should obtain for themselves, or for another candidate, an unfair advantage.

Academic honesty means never falsifying the results of any work and always giving full credit for other people's contributions to our own achievements. More information can be found on the ELE page here and through your tutorial module, including how to reference, what is meant by collusion, plagiarism, fabrication, falsification, misrepresentation and exam misconduct.

You can find suggested texts for this course in the module descriptors (see Penryn Campus: Stage 4 modules) and/or on individual module ELE pages. All recommended reading should be available through the university library.

We look forward to meeting you soon!

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