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In April 2009 a group of second year Geography undergraduates took part in a field trip to the Mediterranean island of Malta.
The island is an outstanding venue for fieldwork, offering a rich heritage of contrasting environments shaped by successive waves of migration and sequent occupancy. Malta thus has a fascinating political and cultural complexity, yet retains a degree of Britishness that alludes to its recent colonial past. The fact that English is widely spoken, and most areas of the island are easily accessible by inexpensive public transport, facilitated investigations of a wide range of human, physical and environmental geographies.
The students, specialising in aspects of human geography, as well as those specialising in environmental management, were accompanied by five members of staff who provided specialist tuition in urban geographies, geo‐archaeology and sustainability. They were joined by Dr Marion Markwick, a well published expert in the human geographies of Malta, with over 20 years experience in leading field investigations in the Maltese islands.
Students selected from a range of thematic options and planned to carry out a number of interesting and innovative research schemes. Prior to the field trip they were given tutorial guidance in developing research design and investigatory methods. Research topics included:
The trip formed part of students’ assessed work – a follow up presentation and individual reports were submitted following the field trip. Most students opted to complete a double module by submitting an academic research paper based on their fieldwork, a selection of which were submitted to the trans university journal GeoVerse.
Students working independently in groups of 3–5, under tutor supervision, were able to access all parts of the island from the venue in Sliema on the Strand, within easy reach of the capital of Valetta. The lovingly maintained vintage buses, inexpensive ferryboats, local food and fabulous location were just a few of the many highlights of this memorable trip.
The carefully planned programme of work allowed time for leisure and exploration; swimming, hiking and even supervised scuba diving for those suitably qualified were all available, and many also made the trip over to Gozo, Malta’s greener sister island.