Preparing Global Forestry Fieldwork

Course content

The course is a preparatory course for the Global Forestry Field Course (subsequently organised by the University of Padova and the Technical University of Dresden): the focus is on developing a minor research project implemented during the subsequent field course in a low or middle-income country in the Global South. The course covers the research process from idea generation to identification of specific objectives and research questions to the development of data collection instruments. This includes developing (i) a concise introduction and justification, leading to identification of a research gap; (ii) general and specific objectives, and operational research questions and hypotheses; (iii) frameworks and data needs; (iv) appropriate data collection instruments; (v) data recording procedures and analyses; all collected in (vi) a fieldwork project proposal. The course also covers issues related to: a general introduction to the case country and study area, e.g. regarding natural resources management policies and forest types; and training in locating and assessing white and grey literature. In addition, the course pays particular attention to practical considerations concerning fieldwork, e.g. ethics, personal safety, training and managing enumerators.


MSc Programme in Global Forestry 

Learning outcome

The course aims to give the students a thorough understanding of the importance of fieldwork preparation.

After finishing the course students are expected to be able to:


Understand the importance of field work preparation

Be familiar with the research process (until implementation stage)

Realise the need to acquire in-depth location specific factual knowledge

Gain in-depth knowledge of topic addressed in research synopsis


Apply principles, theories, and frameworks to locally specific knowledge/conditions

Collect, analyse, and evaluate quantitative and qualitative information

Select and design relevant data collection instruments

Design a clear and coherent research project synopsis

Reflect on risks and ethics in relation to data collection in developing countries


Argue cogently and think critically within the parameters of a particular academic discipline

Demonstrate the values of scholarship: inquiry, reflection, integrity, open mindedness, evidence-based thinking, collegiality

Tackle problems by collecting, analysing and evaluating appropriate qualitative and quantitative information and using it creatively

The course is provided through teaching and exercises in the classroom, supplemented with web-based activities as appropriate. Students will apply concepts acquired during theoretical modules. Each student will participate in a faculty-supervised group; teachers from participating European universities and co-supervisors from the hosting university (i.e. the university hosting the subsequent field course) will provide supervision. Each group will prepare a project proposal on a given research topic, and each student will assess the other groups’ synopses.

The course material consists of selected scientific articles and book chapters. Students identify additional group specific literature.

The course is designed to give students from a broad range of educations an introduction to empirical data collection and research project synopsis writing. The courses Global Forests and People; Systems of Sustainable Forestry; Participatory Natural Resource Governance Management; Livelihoods and Environmental Change offer helpful but not critical additional background knowledge.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Type of assessment details
Students will work in groups; each group will develop a research synopsis. Final grade will be based on (i) the research synopsis, and (ii) individual student peer-review of two other groups' research synopses (each student must prepare a 500 word/synopsis evaluation).

Students must pass the two examinations individually in order to pass the overall exam.

Weight: Research synopsis 60%, Review of the other group synopses 40%.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal censor

Reexam: written assignment to be dowloaded from Digital Exam cutting across the materials covered in the course. 4 hours. 


Criteria for exam assessment

See criteria in Learning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 120
  • Project work
  • 76
  • Guidance
  • 10
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 2
The number of places might be reduced if you register in the late-registration period (BSc and MSc) or as a credit or single subject student.
Study Board of Natural Resources, Environment and Animal Science
Contracting department
  • Department of Food and Resource Economics
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Carsten Smith-Hall   (3-677773446d6a7673326f7932686f)

Thorsten Treue

Saved on the 14-02-2024

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