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School of Environment, Education and Development

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BSc Geography

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BSc Geography / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Understanding the Himalayan Landscape

Unit code GEOG36661
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Summer semester
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? No


As the highest mountain range in the world, the tectonically active Himalayan region represents one of the most interesting and challenging environments in which to study and conduct research.

The physical aspects of the mountain range directly influence the world's population through the availability of resources and climate. The Himalayas are home to the largest scale and fastest rates of physical processes in the world, which result in the most clear and impressive examples of landforms and features, ranging from 520 million cubic metre landslides to 7000m mountains composed of ocean sediments. As one of the highest inhabited landscapes in the world, the region is home to numerous unique cultures including Buddist, Tibetan refugees, Muslim and Hindu, that are undergoing rapid processes of development, in part through tourism. The rapid rate of development has brought with it practical difficulties such as the management of water, but has also generated ideological questions about identity and traditional roles and practices. The area holds key geopolitical importance to India, having been attacked by China and Pakistan in recent history.

This course provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to study and conduct research in one of the most interesting and geographically important environments in the world. The course is unique in being a completely in field-taught and interdisciplinary module, providing an in-depth understanding of the Geography and Geology of the Indian Himalayan region. The first half of the trip involves traveling from Manchester to Leh, the capital of the Ladakh region, via Delhi and Manali across the Himalayas on one of the most challenging – and stunning - roads in the world. This route offers spectacular settings in which to learn about the Human, Physical and Geological aspects of the Himalayan region.


This course aims to:

  • Provide an in-depth understanding of the Geography and Geology of the Indian Himalayan region.
  • Enable students to work closely with staff and peers on applied research.
  • Give students a once in a lifetime opportunity to study and conduct research in a different environment.
  • Provide a unique course that is field-taught and interdisciplinary.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you will:

  • Understand the people, practices and processes of the Indian Himalayan region in detail.
  • Appreciate the physical, environmental and socio-economic challenges facing a relatively undeveloped region of the world.
  • Understand earth surface processes and how they interact with the human world / people on a large scale.
  • Have gained in-depth overseas field experience and learned through applied teaching and research.
  • Appreciate how geographical and geological approaches can work together to provide holistic understandings of the world.


This course is entirely taught overseas through a two week visit to northern India before semester one of the third year. There will be a brief session to confirm the trip logistics at the end of the second year, and an individual piece of coursework that will be produced after the trip in the first half of semester (see assessment details below).

The key Physical, Human and Geological aspects of the environment will be taught in-field over the first 6 days of the trip to equip all students with a solid grounding in the Himalayan environment. Days 7-12 are reserved for group project work in Leh, the capital of the Ladakh region. Project results will be presented on the penultimate day of the trip in Delhi at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to a collection of Geography students.

Day 1               Manchester – Delhi               Flight (10 hours)

Day 2               Delhi – Manali                       Coach (14 hours) Human Geography

Day 3               Manali                                     Human Geography / exploration

Day 4               Manali – Jispa                      Jeep (6 hours)  Physical Geography and Geology

Day 5               Jispa                                      Physical Geography and Geology / trek

Day 6               Jispa – Leh                          Jeep (15 hours)  Physical Geography and Geology

Day 7-12          Leh                                        Project work

Day 13             Leh- Delhi                             Flight (1 hour)

Day 14             JNU                                        Presentations

Day 15             Delhi – Manchester             Flight (11 hours)

Teaching and learning methods

This course will be assessed via a group presentation on the penultimate day of the trip of the project results worth 30% or the overall mark, and an individual piece of coursework based on a detailed write-up of the project or the regional Geography / Geology of the Himalayas worth 70%.

Proposed research projects are as follows (note these are subject to change):

  • Process mapping in the Ladakh Range
  • Depositional environments of Tethyan sediments
  • Desert water; source to sink
  • Therapeutic landscapes: spirituality, healing and well-being in Ladakh
  • Gender and development in the Ladakh region
  • Holy cow! Nature in the city
  • Solar power and sustainable development in the Ladakh region

NB there may be some change to project availability based on student numbers and staffing.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course you will:

  • Be able to collect, analyse and present data in an efficient, accessible and professional manner.
  • Have an enhanced awareness of what it means to be a global citizen.
  • Appreciate how to live and work in a culturally diverse setting for an extended period.
  • Have developed group-working skills with staff and peers in a unique environment.
  • Presented research findings to an international audience.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 70%
Oral assessment/presentation 30%

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jason Dortch Unit coordinator

Additional notes


A deposit of 200 pounds (non-returnable unless exceptional circumstances) will be required by January 28th 2015 to secure a place on the course. There will be a meeting at the start of semester two to provide details of the course, projects and logistics. Logistics will be finalised at a meeting at the end of semester two.

Students are required to book their own flights to Delhi, although they are encouraged to travel with staff. All subsequent travel is included in the cost of the trip. The cost of living in India is relatively cheap, and 200 pounds spending money will be ample to cover subsistence, entertainment and trinkets (100 pounds pure subsistence).  The estimated cost of the trip will be 700 pounds plus the cost of flights to Delhi to and from the UK. The physical geography and geology projects will only require basic outdoor kit, and can be provided on request. All technical equipment will be provided. A full briefing on projects and logistics (including health) will be provided in January. Attendees on the course will be covered by the University insurance from Delhi onwards.

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