Planning an enquiry:

  1. Identify questions or issues for investigation.
  2. Develop one aim.
  3. Develop a minimum of two appropriate hypotheses.

1. Identifying questions or issues for investigation.

The first stage is to identify a topic. The issue or questions should relate directly to something covered in Unit 1 or 2.

Unit 1: Physical geographyUnit 2: Human geography
ExamplesRiversPopulation change
Coasts Migration
Weather Land use
Rocks Changes to the inner city
Managing our resources

A popular topic for investigation is Rivers.

Potential title: A study of how river features change downstream.

2. Develop one aim

The aim is the overall goal or target that a piece of fieldwork will reach.

Aim: To test the changes that happens within a river from the upper to lower course in the river.

3. Develop a minimum of two appropriate hypotheses

A hypothesis is a statement that will be tested through the fieldwork investigation. It should be linked to geography theory.

Hyp 1: The cross-sectional area of the Glenarm River decreases as you move upstream.

Hyp 2: The bedload size and shape will increase as you move upstream.

Primary and secondary sources

  • Primary sources - data collected first hand.
  • Secondary sources - data from other sources such as maps, texts or census.

Information collected in the field for the rivers fieldwork will be primary information.

Maps used to plot the different sites along the course of the river where the measurement of the results would be taking place will be secondary information.

Risk assessment

A risk assessment is required to identify potential risks involved in fieldwork and how they can be reduced.

Rivers can be very dangerous. Before entering the water you should check that the water levels and velocities are safe.

Photograph of Fieldwork on the Glenarm River

Fieldwork on the Glenarm River

Safety equipment for crossing a river:

  1. Waders - long boots that keep your feet and legs dry and provide stability in the water.
  2. Ranging poles - useful for keeping you steady as you move in the river.
  3. Safety rope - a rope tied about 1m above the surface of the water to give you something to hold onto as you cross the river.

Other equipment:

  1. First Aid kit
  2. Emergency whistle - can be blown to attract attention in an emergency.
  3. Bivvy bag - useful to carry an injured person or to act as a shelter in extreme weather.
  4. Mobile phone - useful for contacting the emergency services.