Studying among mountains and fjords

Location of Sogndal

Location of Sogndal

Naomi Holmes, BSc Environmental Science Course Leader, recently visited one of Sheffield Hallam’s partner universities in Norway, Sogn go Fjordane University College (which will become part of the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences in January 2017).  Naomi spoke to two course leaders about the courses they offer which may be of interest to SHU students:

If you’re interested in studying either of these (as part of the Erasmus scheme in your placement year) please do contact Naomi.  One of SHU’s BSc Geography students spent the 2016 Fall semester (August – December 2016) studying on the Mountain to Fjord course.  She’s had a great time, undertaken fieldwork in some fantastic locations, and is happy to tell you all about it! Just ask Naomi for details.

Presentation schedule

While there Naomi listened to the From Mountain to Fjord students present their findings from a science project they had carried out during the From Mountain to Fjord course.  The project examined the ‘Effects of human impact on the Aurlandsfjord’.  The audience included a number of people who worked in companies/industries related to the topic and who were very interested in the students’ work.

The University is located in a beautiful part of Norway and is surrounded by mountains and fjord; a walk up Stedjeåsen begins about 5-10 minutes away from the campus and provides great views over Sogndal.

View over Sogndal

Posted in internationalisation, learning and teaching, outdoor learning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coring in the Peak District

IMG_3295As part of the Level 6 module Quaternary Environmental Change students visited the Peak District to learn about palaeoenvironmental reconstruction and obtain peat cores.  The cores contain a record of environmental change and can be analysed to provide information about what the area was like in the past. Before the visit the students had been told that coring could sometimes be muddy and cold (which they believed) but that it was always fun (which they seemed unsure about).  All of these proved to be correct during the trip!

Once the cores were back at SHU the students spent time in the warm, dry lab describing the peat.  They then learnt about pollen and testate amoebae – these are palaeoecological indicators that can be used to provide information about the past environmental conditions.

IMG_3320          IMG_3358


Posted in learning and teaching, outdoor learning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Environmental Science in a Finnish Forest

Dr Mike Heath

Among the department’s Erasmus partners is the Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) in Finland, where students studying Environmental Science and Geography at SHU have the opportunity to spend a study abroad semester during their placement year. Unless you want to study the Finnish language, all courses at TAMK are taught in English, including the Environmental Engineering and Energy Degree Programme which a number of SHU students have joined for a semester in Tampere. The TAMK campus is backed by the Kauppi Forest, a perfect location for fieldwork in things like soil science. Here, students are seen excavating a soil profile in the forest during a visit by SHU’s Mike Heath in September 2016. These thick black peaty histosols rest on laminated lacustrine clays that help maintain the boggy environment, the reducing conditions within which contribute to a distinctive sulphurous smell that accompanies the excavation!

Excavating a trial pit by hand. The blue-grey material at the bottom of the pit is laminated lacustrine clay overlain here by about a metre of peaty histosol.

Excavating a trial pit by hand. The blue-grey material at the bottom of the pit is laminated lacustrine clay overlain here by about a metre of peaty histosol.

The excavation fills with water very quickly, the water table lying very close to the surface in this boggy part of the Kauppi Forest.

The excavation fills with water very quickly, the water table lying very close to the surface in this boggy part of the Kauppi Forest.

Filling in and tidying up!

Filling in and tidying up!

For more information on study opportunities at TAMK, feel free to contact Mike Heath (

Posted in internationalisation, learning and teaching, outdoor learning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EUROPARC Conference 2016

Prof. Lynn Crowe

EuroparcOne of my research interests is the management of protected landscapes, particularly national parks – and I have been lucky to visit and study national parks and other protected areas around the world. I was also a government appointed Member of the Peak District National Park Authority for ten years between 1995 and 2006.

The EUROPARC Federation ( is the network for Europe’s natural and cultural heritage managers – all those authorities set up to protect and manage these special landscapes. The Federation works to improve the management of protected areas through international cooperation, exchange of ideas and experience, and by influencing policy. As a Member of the Peak District National Park Authority, I have attended many of their annual conferences previously, and it was therefore with great delight that I attended their 2016 conference, although now just as an independent academic.

Delegates at EUROPARC 2016

Delegates at EUROPARC 2016

Read more about Lynn’s EUROPARC conference visit here

Posted in research | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Final year Tenerife field course

by Abbie Townsley, Final Year Student

On Monday 31st October, a very foggy and cold Birmingham was exchanged for the sunny Canary Island of Tenerife. After a 4 hour and 20-minute flight we all looked at each other in shock as we walked out of the terminal, realising how warm Tenerife could actually be in October/November. Thrilled in contrast to the temperate climate we left behind. The reading regarding the all year around resort and sub-tropical climate was sinking in, I understood instantly why tourists visited Tenerife in the winter months. However, we weren’t there to holiday, we had a job to do, to discover the island from a number of different perspectives, keeping a detailed notebook along the way, all leading up to a project to be completed in the last few days. We travelled towards Costa Adeje, where the highway met the tourist area, it was a perfect base for our activities.

Every night we went out in the evening to do our own thing and quickly found what Costa Adeje had to offer: restaurants, bars, shopping outlets, karaoke and mini golf! We know exactly where to visit if we go back for a holiday!

The main attraction on the second day was Mount Teide, one of the highest volcanoes in the world, and the heart of Tenerife. It is a shame we couldn’t get to the top but walking around the caldera you could see the geological events unfold before your eyes. This was a huge contrast to the tourist area we called our home for 5 days.

Travelling around the island you could see the distinct differences between the North and the South of the island, especially in the weather. You could be wearing a bikini and be warm in the south but needed leggings and a hoodie in the north. This was mainly due to the thicker cloud cover and our altitudinal position.

All the information that we had been given while travelling around the island was useful to inform our projects. We were to investigate whether pine tree needle size changed with altitude. We quickly realised that temperature changed massively with altitude, once again experiencing the various micro climates the island had to offer.

Projects were completed with groups we chose ourselves. I only knew 2 girls well that I worked with – the others were practically strangers, but we seemed to gel quickly and work really well together, to measure 400 pine needles in 4 different locations in around 5 hours to gain an impressive set of results ready to analyse at home. I didn’t know measuring pine needles while you were so high you could see clouds in front of your face could be so fun! But I had a great time and learnt to use new equipment.

Abbie collecting pine needle data

Abbie collecting pine needle data

After an exhausting day of collecting data the last day was upon us, and the hottest day yet. Everyone had collected their data so we ventured out to a small town near the harbour. The town showed us a different side to Tenerife in contrast to the pine forests we had seen and was a chance for our last meal with our field trip family.

The difference between learning on a fieldtrip and learning in a lecture theatre at university is astonishing. I don’t think I have ever been more focused or intrigued in the information I had to retrieve. In 5 days, I learnt so much and made new friends who share similar interests to me. I would recommend this field trip to anyone, I was dreading going but I had an amazing week, that benefited me both personally and professionally.

Thank you to the lecturers for making the trip unforgettable :)

Posted in learning and teaching, outdoor learning | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

First year field visit to Grenoside Woods

Sheffield Hallam University BSc Environmental Science and Geography recently visited Grenoside Woods as part of their first year module: Introduction to Environmental Science module.  The trip involved collecting soil samples for analysis in the laboratories back at SHU.  Students were split into two groups, with half sampling the heathland soils in the area and half sampling the coniferous woodland.  Much fun was had twisting screw augers into the ground to extract samples of topsoil and taking core samples to be analysed for bulk density.

grenoside coring

Posted in learning and teaching, outdoor learning | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Department of the Natural and Built Environment Research Activities

The B.Sc. degree in Environmental Science is part of the Department of the Natural and Built Environment (DNBE). Your department aims to provide a home for academics and students who want to understand, design and shape our world. All DNBE academic staff are involved in research and scholarship activities, often working with our industry and professional sectors. Our research activities seek to understand the impact of social, environmental and economic changes on society and the planet, focusing on both local and global trends and challenges. Drawing on this understanding, we contribute to the better design and planning of spaces and places. We hope to benefit individuals, communities and society through social, economic and environmental improvement – sustainable development in its widest sense.

Our department covers subjects including architecture, construction, housing, planning, real estate and surveying, as well as environmental science and geography. As students, you will be part of our research – through your own studies and projects – thus helping to find practical solutions to real world problems.  We will shortly be producing our annual research seminar programme, and we will ensure you are invited to any seminars which we think would be of interest to you.

You can read more about the department on our web pages (, and look up individual DNBE staff profiles to find out about their research interests ( We also produce two research publications – Natural Environment Research Transactions and Built Environment Research Transactions. The publications often contain papers written by students and staff together, based on their dissertations and other research projects. You can read the most recent editions here –

Each year, we produce a review of all the research activities, projects and publications undertaken by DNBE staff. You can have a look at the DNBE Annual Research Review 2015-16 here.

DNBE research

Lynn Crowe (Professor of Environmental Management, Department of the Natural and Built Environment).

Posted in research | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Real World Research Field Trip

Last week all second year students undertook some field research at Calver as part of the Real World Research module.  Students planned their fieldwork, designed data collection sheets and collected data which they will use to produce a report as part of an assessment.

IMG_3145 IMG_3146 IMG_3147 IMG_3151

Posted in learning and teaching, outdoor learning | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Volunteering Opportunity

On Tuesday Dr John Rose had a meeting with Aesseal Ltd, an engineering firm based in Rotherham.  The company prides itself in having a strong environmental ethic.  As part of this the company has incorporated semi-natural habitats in to the landscaping of its grounds.  This includes wetlands (that take treated water from the roofs and car parks), grassland, green roofs and a small woodland area.  These are now approximately 10 years old and have established successfully, resulting in a diverse flora and fauna for a secondary urban site.

They would like to compile an inventory of the species on site and investigate the development of the flora and fauna by repeating these surveys.  John has agreed to lead these surveys and is looking for volunteers to help – in order to develop your survey and identification skills.  You need not have any experience – just enthusiasm!  It is now too late in the season to do any botanical survey so John will aim to start in late April – May next year.  If you are interested let John know and he will contact you when he has proposed survey dates.

The company ISO 14001 accreditation and so would also be interested in students looking at environmental management systems and their implementation.  If you are interested in this let John know.


Posted in work experience | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Hedgehog Events at SHU

On Thursday 27th October (7.30-9.00pm) there is a talk by Hugh Warwick on ‘Hedgehogs: why we should worry, and what we can do‘.  Earlier in the day there is a Hedgehog Workshop run by Hugh (2.00-5.oopm).

These events are free for SHU students.

For more information please visit

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment