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We have a provisional arrangement with Bath Spa University that all Projects Abroad projects, undertaken for a period of three months or more are worth 3 modules or 60 points (or the equivalent under the inter-university Credit Accumulation Transfer Scheme) from Bath Spa University, provided certain conditions are met.

This is applicable to students at most other universities in the UK, the USA and Western Europe, willing to comply with the modest essay and distance learning requirements outlined below. Fulfilment of the requirements, mainly comprising a project with Projects Abroad of three months or longer, comprises a qualification in Experiencing Overseas Development.

Students wishing to participate in this scheme must register as part-time students at Bath Spa University. They may be able to transfer free of charge from certain UK and Western European universities. Otherwise the fee payable is £4,400.

Here is the formal job description by Bath Spa University (subject to approval):

Module CodeGE20XX
Name of moduleExperiencing Overseas Development
Short nameInternational Placement
Module co-ordinatorCourse Director: Development Geography
Other tutor(s)Course Team
Module level2
Credit points60 points (or equivalent using Credit Accumulation Transfer)
Subject AreaGeography
Acceptable forAssociate students
TypeStand-alone module available to international market
ExcludedOnly available for Associate students
DescriptionWorking in the field is an important career option for graduates of Development Studies and this module provides an opportunity to gain experience in the field in a developing country. You will spend a minimum of 3 months doing your overseas experience with our partner organisation Projects Abroad. There are a wide variety of placements available in seventeen countries across four continents. You could choose to work on a conservation project in the Peruvian rainforest or on a community project in a small village in Ghana; conservation projects working with turtles in Mexico; or, teach in a small school in a village in Southern India or work on a care & community project in a tsunami-affected area of Sri Lanka. You will spend three months living and working on a practical project in a developing world country, supervised by full time staff working overseas. They will organise your placement, accommodation and welfare. Students also negotiate an appropriate investigative project topic with tutors specialising in Development Geography at the Department of Geography at Bath Spa University, UK. Projects Abroad will organise the placement with the student, and offer logistical support in the field. Assessment work will be set and marked by tutors at Bath Spa University.
Teaching and learning
This module facilitates learning through:
  • Pre-departure secondary research into the host country,
  • Training in field methods through distance learning and in-the-field,
  • Experiential and project-based learning whilst on the placement, and
  • Learning through post-placement reflection.
Pre- and post-placement tutorials with tutors at Bath Spa University will be done through distance learning. On-line academic support through email and a dedicated virtual learning environment hosted by Bath Spa University and Projects Abroad. Projects Abroad staff supervisors as well as email, internet, telephone, fax and/or written support will be available at all placement destinations. Training will be provided in the methods and techniques used by field practitioners in developing countries. You will learn about the as well as health & safety and ethical issues, such as cultural differences and positionality. You may have the opportunity to learn about questionnaire design, interviewing, focus groups, archival work and/or participant observation.
Learning outcomes By the end of the module students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of development issues relating to the country hosting their field placement,
  2. Acquire training in field methods to undertake a small-scale investigation in a field-based setting,
  3. Relate the outcomes of a small-scale field-based investigation to development issues relevant to the host country,
  4. Reflect on personal field experiences and use these to inform career decisions,
  5. Deploy a range of subject and key skills in written presentations.
Key text(s)Laws, S, Harper, C & Marcus, R (2003) Research for Development: A Practical Guide. London, Sage Publications.
Potter, R, Binns, T & Elliott, J (2003) Geographies of Development. Harlow, Pearson Education.
Scheyvens, R & Storey, D (2003) Development Fieldwork: A Practical Guide. London, Sage Publications.
Assessment schemePre-placement negotiated report (15%) 2000 words maximum
Investigative project report (40%) 5000 words maximum
Reflective diary extracts/summaries (25%) 3000 words maximum
Community Report (20%) 2000 words maximum

The course is one of those offered as part of a Foundation Degree in Development Geography at Bath Spa University

The two-year foundation degree in Development Geography at Bath Spa University is a joint project between Projects Abroad and the university's Geography Department. The course is described as "a total package of science-based knowledge and skills relevant to sustainable and third world development issues".

Development Geography applies geographical methods and techniques to the study and solving of real-world development problems.

Students study development theory and the concept of sustainable development, and learn to use various methods of scientific investigation, including geographic information systems and laboratory and field-based techniques. They learn how to communicate clearly, search for and use data to aid decisions, to work alone and in teams, and to carry out field investigation.

Students explore such issues as global inequality, women's role in development, population trends, health and education resources, environmental degradation, energy resources, sustainable technology, and soil and water conservation.

The course comprises a mix of compulsory and optional modules.  Year 1 focuses on providing subject knowledge and skills, whilst two-thirds of Year 2 provides vocational experience.

Students gain experience as a field worker in a developing country for a minimum period of three months at the beginning of their second year, organised by Projects Abroad.

Here is a breakdown of the whole course into modules:

Year 1

Compulsory modules:

  • Development Geography: Society, Sustainability and Environment
  • Geography of Sustainable Development: Human and Energy Resources
  • Geography: A Regional Introduction
  • Geographical Skills

Optional modules (students choose two):

  • Space and Society
  • Landform Analysis
  • Tourism: An Introduction
  • Global Food Resources
  • Introduction to Remote Sensing
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • Survey Methods

Year 2

All compulsory:

Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University is a medium-sized and friendly institution.  It offers pre-degree study, undergraduate degrees and postgraduate degrees in a wide range of programmes.  The University is linked with over 50 institutions in Europe, Asia, the USA and Africa. It awards its own degrees up to and including Masters.

Bath Spa is one of the first major 'teaching-led' universities. The university's aim is to deliver excellent teaching to enthusiastic students who are committed to achieving their academic potential. Considerable emphasis is placed on developing innovative methods of teaching and assessment. The academic environment is supportive and friendly.

Bath Spa is committed to offering students accessible routes into higher education, and the university has developed extensive partnerships with further education colleges, notably for the delivery of new and exciting Foundation Degrees.

Bath Spa University has been designated a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in the creative industries, having won a bid in a major competitive programme of funding. This has enabled significant investment in resources and facilities for students across many subjects. Through the development of innovative learning and teaching combined with strengthened links with key employers and industry partners, our Bath Spa supports new models of education which have their own intrinsic value and also enhance the employability of Bath Spa students.

Bath Spa University staff are actively engaged in research and scholarship that directly informs their teaching. Research activity at Bath Spa University is of comparable quality to that of the best of the modern British universities.

The mission of Bath Spa University is to be an outstanding and distinctive university that provides degree courses of the highest quality, informed by a culture of scholarship and research, expertise and teaching excellence.

The role of Projects Abroad in providing support for students

Projects Abroad offers a variety of support to students seeking work experience, carrying out fieldwork or writing their dissertations. Our expert staff are trained to match students' work experience requirements to the needs of the local communities where we work. If there is research to be done, we work through the practical needs in the field, for example for interpreters, transport or security - and we can always give careful advice on suitable contents for interviews or questionnaires. The dissertation itself is of course up to the student and their tutor but we can often advise on the robustness of data, over-ambitious projects, suitable statistical methods and so on.

Students on fieldwork: values

More Info, University Credits - Student at Fieldwork

As far as students on fieldwork are concerned, Projects Abroad teaches as much as possible about the customs, values, attitudes and world-view of the cultures in which they find themselves, and a little of the history and geography for context. We need to ensure that students recognize as far as possible their own values. We all come laden with values to every situation in our lives, but we very rarely think about these values or are conscious of them. Projects Abroad sets up seminar situations in some cases for students to articulate - and thus be more aware of - their own values.

We need to ensure that groups of people from different cultures, coming into contact with each other, understand more about their counterparts before they can work together really effectively. How will a value-judgement, for example, of a Peruvian teenager differ from that of a British student? How will the values of a farmer from the rainforest region clash with those of a trainee ecologist from a British university? We should not try to reconcile values because the differences are legitimate, but we do, through discussion and conscious mixing and debate, increase mutual understanding.

Students on fieldwork: the work

Students are placed in a working environment where they can get direct experience of the development process. Projects Abroad tries to get to know each student, working through desk-officers resident in their destination countries. We try to be aware of the individuality of each volunteer and be seriously interested in each one, so we can work with them effectively.

Projects Abroad also ensures that, wherever possible, each volunteer is making a contribution to the local community, economically or culturally. Their work must help to satisfy a need perceived both by the local community and by the development specialists in Projects Abroad.

David Simm
BSc (University of Wales, Aberystwyth)
PhD (University of Exeter),
Course Director, Development Geography, Bath Spa University

Dr. David Simm

David is Course Director for Development Geography, and Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography in the Department of Geography, Bath Spa University. He joined the university in September 2001 from St Mary's College, London, where he was a Lecturer in Physical Geography and also the Learning and Teaching Co-ordinator for the college. He studied at Aberystwyth (BSc) and Exeter (PhD). His doctoral research concerned the study of patterns of flooding and overbank deposition on the floodplains of lowland rivers using sediment traps and radionuclides. David also has an interest in pedagogic research, in particular the teaching of research methods using problem-based learning. He was a co-recipient of the Sir Henry Walpole Prize for Excellence in Teaching (1999), in recognition of his fieldwork teaching at St Mary's College. He is a member of the British Geomorphological Research Group's Executive Committee, and currently is editor of Geophemera.


Simm D.J. (2005) Experiential learning - assessing process and product. Planet, 15, 16-19 (HEA-GEES).

McGuinness M. and Simm D.J. (2005) Going global? Long-haul fieldwork in undergraduate Geography. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 29(2), 241-253.

Simm D.J. and McGuinness M. (2004) Crisis resolution of student-led research projects at distant localities. Planet, 13, 8-11 (HEA-GEES).

McGuinness M. and Simm D.J. (2003) Linking teaching and research through departmental research conferences for student project work. Planet, SE 5, 21-24 (LTSN-GEES).

Simm D.J. and David C.A. (2002) Effective teaching of research design in physical geography: a case study. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 26(2), 169-180.

Simm D.J. and David C.A. (2002) Workshop-based teaching of research design. Planet, 3, 12-14 (LTSN-GEES).

Simm D.J. (2002) Using the internet as a teaching tool: Three Gorges Dam, China. Teaching Geography, 27(2), 82-86.

Simm D.J. and Walling D.E. (1998) Lateral variability of overbank sedimentation on a Devon flood plain. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 43(5), 715-732.

Simm D.J., Walling D.E., Bates P.D. and Anderson M.G. (1997) The potential application of finite element modelling of flood plain inundation to predict patterns of overbank deposition. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 42(6), 859-875.

Simm D.J. (1995) The rates and patterns of overbank deposition on a lowland floodplain. In: Foster IDL, Gurnell AM and Webb BW (eds.) Sediment and Water Quality in River Catchments. Wiley (Chichester), ch.14, 247-264.

Bates P.D., Anderson M.G., Baird L., Walling D.E. and Simm D.J. (1992) Modelling floodplain flows using a two-dimensional finite element model. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 17(6), 575-588.

Peter Slowe
BSc (University of Bristol)
DPhil (University of Oxford),
Director, Projects Abroad

Dr. Peter Slowe

Peter Slowe founded Projects Abroad in 1992 and he is involved in every aspect of its work from running new recruitment campaigns to establishing new projects around the world. He has a particularly strong interest in working in partnership with university departments because he used to be an academic geographer himself. At Chichester University he specialised in political military geography but he also published papers on development geography with special reference to Guinea in West Africa.



1993: Manny Shinwell: authorised biography, Pluto Press

1990: Geography and Political Power: the geography of nations and states, Routledge

1988: Battlefield Berlin: siege, surrender and occupation, Hale (with R Woods)

1986: Fields of Death: battle scenes of the First World War, Hale (with R Woods)

1981: The Advance Factory in Regional Development, Gower

Refereed Published Papers

1994: The Geography of Borderlands: the case of the Quebec-US borderlands; in Girot P O ed, World Borderlands, vol 4, The Americas, Routledge

1994: Moldova: a new state-nation in Stalin's boundaries; in Gallusser W A, ed, Political Boundaries and Co-existence, Peter Lang (with M W Miller)

1992: Decentralisation and devolution by the local state: the British case; in Van der Wusten H, ed, The Urban Political Arena: geographies of public administration, Netherlands Geographical Studies 140

1991: The Geography of Borderlands: Quebec and the United States, Geographical Journal, 157, 2, 191-8, July 1991

1991: Rebuilding an African Nation: the case of Guinea; in Heffernan M and C Dixon, eds, Colonialism and Development in the Contemporary World, Routledge

1990: Nationhood and statehood in Canada; in Chisholm M and D Smith, eds, Shared Space: Divided Space, Allen and Unwin

1990: National Integration: contrasting ideologies in Guinea; in Simon D, ed, Third World Regional Development: a reappraisal, Paul Chapman

1989: Guinea; in Legum C and M E Doro, eds, Africa Contemporary Record, 1987 - 88 annual survey and documents, Africana

1987: Labour and Company Law: putting social ownership into practice, Fabian Society (with I Snaith) (53pp)

1986: The Costly First Home: an aspect of housing shortage in two West Sussex towns, South Hampshire Geographer, 18 (1986), 2 - 8. (with W M Bramwell)

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