NIFK18003U Thematic Course: Interdisciplinary Land Use and Natural Resource Management

Volume 2019/2020

MSc Programme in Environment and Development
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics
MSc Programme in Sustainable Development in Agriculture (Agris Mundus)
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics with a Minor Subject



The course contents are:

- Familiarising with theoretical and methodological approaches to interdisciplinary studies of natural resource management and rural livelihoods in developing countries
- Enabling students to apply their own disciplinary skills in interdisciplinary problem-based group work
- Training in field based investigation of concrete topics/problems
- Ensuring exposure to methods from both natural and social science
- Providing students the experience of working with developing country counterparts
- Stimulate reflection on all the above

The course is jointly organised by Faculty of Science and Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Copenhagen and Roskilde University, and attracts students from a wide range of study programmes.

Most land use and natural resource management issues in developing countries are best approached interdisciplinary. Hence, the central theme of the course is learning and applying methods and theoretical approaches rooted in both national and social science traditions in problem-oriented field work in a developing country in collaboration with local counterparts. In working with students from other disciplines, students should apply their own disciplinary skills in order to address the identified topics/questions within land use, rural development and natural resource management. Close co-operation with local students will ensure exposure to working in an inter-cultural environment.

The course includes training in analysing problems and developing a research/project synopsis; planning and conducting field work; selection and application of data collection methods (e.g. questionnaire design, interview techniques, bio-physical sampling methods, PRA techniques); data recording and processing; and writing reports. This will allow students to participate effectively in interdisciplinary assignments in developing countries, and serve as a basis for understanding strengths and weaknesses of each student’s own discipline, including comparative advantages of academic disciplines relevant to rural livelihoods and natural resource management in developing countries.

The course is a collaboration between Departement of Food and Resource Economics at UCPH, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at UCPH, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at UCPH, Department of Anthropology at UCPH and Department of People and Technology at RUC. The consortium has carried out interdisciplinary field courses in collaboration with university counterparts in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa, Swazialnd and Botswana since 1998.

For logistical and planning purposes, students must enroll by end of October. Check the specific date of enrollment at the course homepage: where you can also find the form for enrollment. In addition to this enrollment, students must also register the course as normally done.


Learning Outcome

The course offers practical experience in selecting, applying and evaluating field methods for natural resource management in an interdisciplinary perspective. After completing the course the students should be able to:

Describe and show overview of key field data collection methods (both natural and social science methods)

Describe and define central concepts and terms within development and natural resource management

Integrate own knowledge, skills and competences into interdisciplinary groups tasked with complex, interdisciplinary problems

Select relevant methods and construct a research plan for investigating a real-life natural resource “problem”

Apply selected methods in the field

Analyse and report collected field data

Reflect on research plan and reliability of collected data

Generalize and reflect on results observed/obtained at the case level to broader issues of sustainability, livelihood, natural resource management and development

Will be made available at Absalon

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
Learning activities include lectures, exercises, discussions, student presentations and group supervision. 2-3 weeks field work in a developing country doing group based data collection. Supervised report writing in group.
Participants are required to cover transportation costs to the field trip destination, insurance cost, visa cost and food expenditures under the field trip.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Colloquia
  • 24
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Excursions
  • 153
  • Guidance
  • 10
  • Preparation
  • 100
  • Project work
  • 100
  • Theory exercises
  • 12
  • Theory exercises
  • 12
  • Total
  • 412
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Students will receive feedback from lecturers and fellow students to the draft synopsis. Intensive feedback will also be given by lecturers during the data collection in the field. During report writing, there will also be feedback to the data analysis and draft versions of chapters in the report.

Type of assessment
Oral examination, 60-90 minutes
Written assignment
Oral group examination in synopsis, field report and course curriculum, 60-90 minutes, depending on no. of members of group. No preparation time. The examination will ask students individual questions to allow individual assessment of students.

Weight: Field report: 50% Oral exam: 50%. Individual grades to students.
Exam registration requirements

Participation in field trip. Active contribution to group work and group report.

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

Oral reexam. The oral exam lasts 20 minutes. No time for preparation. The oral exam counts 100%.


If the student does not fulfil the exam registration requirements for the ordinary exam, students must prepare an individual report of maximum 15 pages. The report should be handed in 3 three weeks before the reexam.


Criteria for exam assesment

Please refer to the learning outcomes