LNAK10097U Preparing Field Work in the Tropics

Volume 2019/2020

MSc Programme in Forests and Livelihoods (SUTROFOR)


The course is a preparatory course for the Sustainable Tropical Forestry Spring School: the focus is on developing a minor research project (that will then be implemented during the subsequent spring school taking place in a developing country). The course includes understanding of: the general environment in the country in which the subsequent spring school will take place, e.g. regarding natural resources management policies and forest types; training in locating and assessing white and grey literature on the research project topic; conducting critical online discussions as part of project preparation; preparing and analysing empirically oriented project synopses; selecting appropriate data collection instruments; finalising a field work project proposal. The course thus covers the entire research process until the implementation phase. Particular attention is paid to practical considerations in connection to field work, e.g. ethics, personal safety, training and managing enumerators.

Learning Outcome

The aim of the course is to impart to the students a thorough understanding of the importance of field work preparation.

After finishing the course the student is 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

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 Tropical Forests, People and Policies; Participatory Forest Management; Rural Livelihoods and Natural Resource Governance offer useful but not critical additional background knowledge.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The course is provided through a web-based teaching and learning system. Students will apply concepts acquired during theoretical modules. Each student will participate in a supervised group; supervision will be provided by supervisors from participating European universities and co-supervisors from the hosting university (i.e. the university hosting the subsequent spring school). Each group will prepare a project proposal on a given research topic, and each student will assess the other groups’ synopses.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Guidance
  • 10
  • Preparation
  • 120
  • Project work
  • 76
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
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 part-examinations individually in order to pass the overall exam.

Weight: Research synopsis 50%, Review of the other group synopses 50%.
Exam registration requirements

Students must pass a test after the third week in order to proceed to the synopsis writing.

All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal censor

Reexam: written assignment cutting across the materials covered in the course. 4 hours. No inviligation.

If the student has not passed the test after the third week, then the test should be passed two weeks prior to the re-exam. It must be approved before the exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See criteria in Learning Outcome