Field work

Fieldwork is an integral part of the renewable energy degree programmes and all field courses/industrial tours are mandatory. To fully participate in the field courses / industrial tours, you need field clothing appropriate to all weather conditions. We will provide a detailed briefing about the required equipment, but you will need a field notebook (waterproof), safety helmet, safety boots and a hi-viz vest or jacket. When visiting industrial sites, always ask the visit provider before taking photographs.

Safety and Ethics in Fieldwork

Fieldwork is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of a degree and safety in fieldwork is of paramount importance. You will
take part in organised one day and residential field classes during your time with the University  of Exeter but you may also need to organise your own field research for your dissertation. You will be given guidance about the safety issues surrounding planning and undertaking a piece of independent field research. During field classes organised and led by members of staff you should always take note of the following guidelines.

Safety in Fieldwork

The conduct of fieldwork during field classes is governed by the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974). Under the provisions of this Act, students are required to take full account of instructions and warnings issues by members of staff. Furthermore, all students
are required to conduct their work and activities in such a way as not to expose themselves or others to unnecessary risks, including physical injury and getting lost. These requirements apply at all times during the field class (i.e. including the leisure time) and failure to meet them will result in suspension from the field class which will result in non-fulfilment of module and course requirements. Specific requirements and instructions will vary according to the nature of the fieldwork and the venue, and will be provided by
members of staff teaching the field class. Some important general rules enforceable under the Act are listed below:

  • Appropriate clothing and footwear must be worn and ill-equipped students will not be permitted to participate in field classes.
    During cold weather or in harsh environments, a reserve of warm clothing should be carried. Some form of headgear is also recommended under these conditions, since considerable heat may be lost from the head. Footwear should be suitable
    for the terrain. In most cases the ideal is good walking boots although other suitable footwear with good tread and support (but not plimsolls) may be permitted by the leader.
  • A safety helmet conforming to British Standard 5240 must be worn by workers near cliff bottoms or quarry faces, in mines, tunnels, caves and other places where there is risk to the head.
  • Safety goggles conforming to British Standard 2092 must be work when chipping rock or wood.
  • Workers in remote areas must always carry a map and compass, know how to take a bearing, keep known landmarks in sight, be accompanied whenever possible and be aware of future weather conditions.    
  • If you need to enter a field containing animals, be aware that some animals can be aggressive. If in doubt do not place yourself at risk.
  • Do not climb over or through hedges or fences. Always use gates and/or stiles.
  • Never climb trees.      
  • Always wash your hands when returning from fieldwork where you have handled soil, sediments, vegetation, river/lake water etc.
  • Those working among or near dry vegetation, such as gorse or dead bracken, must not smoke or undertake any other operation that might cause fire. All objects that might subsequently cause fire, such as glass, should be removed from the site.
  • Those working on or close to rivers, lakes and the sea shore must wear waterproof and/or buoyancy clothing appropriate to the circumstances and take adequate advance precautions if working under abnormal conditions (e.g. floods, storms).

Remember - The Health and Safety at Work Act clearly indicates that responsibility for safety is yours. Please be responsible and thoughtful in your actions.

Ethical Guidelines for Undergraduate Students

All students must familiarise themselves with the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences Ethical guidelines.  Ethical principles are concerned with the rights, dignity and welfare of participants and other stakeholders in research. To this end, research with humans, in particular vulnerable people, and animals in the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences generally requires the approval of the EMPS Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee comprises a group of academic staff who meet at regular intervals to receive applications from students and staff of EMPS and to consider any ethical issues that might arise from the research.

In general:

All undergraduates undertaking a third year project/dissertation must receive approval from their supervisor before commencing their study. In cases where ethical issues are deemed to be of concern, the supervisor will to refer the case to the EMPS Ethics Committee.

Full guidance notes are available on RKT's Ethics pages.