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Durham University

Colleges & wider student experience

Student news

My virtual field trip to Spain…

(16 October 2020)

Student Jen Talbot

Durham University - Virtual Geology field trip to Spain

Although our Geology students aren’t able to visit Spain for their usual field trip right now, their tutors came up with a really innovative virtual alternative. 

Usually, second year Geology undergraduates visit southern Spain to study the Betic Mountains. This year, that hasn’t been possible due to Covid-19 restrictions. But rather than abandon the project, their Earth Sciences tutors put together a ‘virtual field trip’.

How do you do a ‘virtual field trip’?.

Using Google Earth and Zoom, students undertook a geological study of the region. They were able to cover a much wider geographical area than if they had been on the ground.

They also focused in the same areas that they would have visited had they been there in person including evidence for recent earthquake activity in the region.

And because a Durham PhD student who was working in the region remained there during the Covid-19 lockdown, they were also able to analyse recent drone footage collected in Europe’s only desert region.

The virtual trip took place over five days with over 40 students, who are now writing up their reports.

One student, Jennifer, said afterwards: “I really enjoyed last week! It was very well organised and I have learnt many new skills through the process. Felt like we were on an actual trip.”

More about Earth Sciences at Durham

We’re ranked in the world top 50 universities for Earth and Marine Sciences in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

We also have really close links with industry. For example, the virtual field trip benefitted from the expertise of Geospatial Research Ltd, a company which was spun out of the University which specialises in virtual fieldwork technologies.