Our research focuses on the UK, dryland regions, and developing areas of the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean. The department maintains close links with colleagues in a number of overseas institutions (particularly in Spain, the Caribbean, Egypt and Vietnam). Research facilities include a postgraduate office and new soils and geomatics laboratories with a range of analytical equipment and high level GIS and Image Processing systems.

Recent Submissions

  • Flood risk to commercial property: Training and Education Needs of Built Environment Professionals

    Bhattacharya-Mis, Namrata; Lamond, Jessica; Chang, Faith; Kreibich, Heidi; Burrell, Montz; Wilkinson, Sara; Proverbs, David (Emerald, 2018)
    Improved management of commercial property at risk from flooding may result from well-targeted advice from built environment professionals, such as surveyors, valuers and project managers. However, research indicates that the role of these professionals in providing such advice is currently limited for a variety of reasons. This research aimed to investigate the (perceived and real) barriers and opportunities for providing such advice in a number of international locations. In particular the research sought greater understanding of the link between regulation and guidance; perceived roles and capacity; and training and education needs. In order to cover different international settings an illustrative case study approach was adopted within the selected countries (Australia, UK, US, China and Germany). This involved a qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews of built environment (BE) professionals with experience of advising on commercial properties at risk of flooding. Due to the specific nature of these interviews, a purposive sampling approach was implemented, leading to a sample of 72 interviews across the five international locations. Perceived barriers were linked to regulatory issues, a shortage of suitably experienced professionals, a lack of formal guidance and insurance requirements. BE professionals defined their roles differently in each case study in relation to these factors and stressed the need for closer collaboration among the various disciplines and indeed the other key stakeholders (i.e. insurers, loss adjusters, contractors). A shortage of knowledgeable experts caused by a lack of formal training and education was a common challenge highlighted in all locations. The research is unique in providing an international perspective on issues affecting built environment professionals in providing robust and impartial advice on commercial property at risk of flooding. Whilst acknowledging the existence of local flood conditions, regulatory frameworks and insurance regimes, the results indicate some recurring themes, indicating a lack of general flood risk education and training across all five case study countries. Learning across case studies coupled with appropriate policy development could contribute towards improved skills development and more consistent integration of BE professionals within future flood risk management practice, policy and strategy.
  • ‘Are we losing our way?’ Navigational aids, socio-sensory way-finding and the spatial awareness of young adults

    McCullough, David; Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Wiley, 2018)
    Recent advances in the accessibility and reliability of mobile technologies, roaming services and associated data have led to an increased usage of modern navigational devices using Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). This paper reports on a study which explored concerns about over-reliance upon these navigational technologies, specifically amongst young people in the Global North. Based on an experiment in which participants were asked to navigate a series of different (unfamiliar) routes on foot, using different navigational technologies each time, we argue that routes navigated are more memorable, and the process of way-finding is more enjoyable, when navigational tools/methods enable sensory and social interactions. GNSS aids, though claimed by participants as their preferred navigational aid, were the least enabling in this regard. We conclude that, whilst concerns about young people’s way-finding abilities may be overstated, the importance of sensory and social interactions with(in) environments might usefully be borne in mind in the development of future GNSS aids and locative media.
  • Quantifying system disturbance and recovery from historical mining-derived metal contamination at Brotherswater, northwest England

    Schillereff, Daniel; Chiverrell, Richard; Macdonald, Neil; Hooke, Janet; Welsh, Katharine; Kings College London, University of Liverpool, University of Liverpool, University of Liverpool, University of Chester (Springer Verlag, 2016-08-18)
    Metal ore extraction in historical times has left a legacy of severe contamination in aquatic ecosystems around the world. In the UK, there are ongoing nationwide surveys of present-day pollution discharged from abandoned mines but few assessments of the magnitude of contamination and impacts that arose during historical metal mining have been made. We report one of the first multi-centennial records of lead (Pb), zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu) fluxes into a lake (Brotherswater, northwest England) from point-sources in its catchment (Hartsop Hall Mine and Hogget Gill processing plant) and calculate basin-scale inventories of those metals. The pre-mining baseline for metal contamination has been established using sediment cores spanning the past 1,500 years and contemporary material obtained through sediment trapping. These data enabled the impact of 250 years of local, small-scale mining (1696 – 1942) to be quantified and an assessment of the trajectory towards system recovery to be made. The geochemical stratigraphy displayed in twelve sediment cores show strong correspondence to the documented history of metal mining and processing in the catchment. The initial onset in 1696 was detected, peak Pb concentrations (>10,000 µg g-1) and flux (39.4 g m-2 y-1) corresponded to the most intensive mining episode (1863-1871) and 20th century technological enhancements were reflected as a more muted sedimentary imprint. After careful evaluation, we used these markers to augment a Bayesian age-depth model of the independent geochronology obtained using radioisotope dating (14C, 210Pb, 137Cs and 241Am). Total inventories of Pb, Zn and Cu for the lake basin during the period of active mining were 15,415 kg, 5,897 kg and 363 kg, respectively. The post-mining trajectories for Pb and Zn project a return to pre-mining levels within 54-128 years for Pb and 75-187 years for Zn, although future remobilisation of metal-enriched catchment soils and floodplain sediments could perturb this recovery. We present a transferable paleolimnological approach that highlights flux-based assessments are vital to accurately establish the baseline, impact and trajectory of mining-derived contamination for a lake catchment.
  • Landslides in Jamaica: Distribution, Cause, Impact and Management

    Miller, Servel; Shalkowski, Anestoria; Harris, Norman; Richards, Dionne; Brown, Lyndon; University of Chester; University of the West Indies (CRC Press, 2018-03-19)
    Jamaica has one of the highest natural hazard risk exposures in the world, with more than 90% of the population exposed to two or more natural hazards. The island of Jamaica is particularly prone to multiple hazards, including hurricanes, earthquakes and slope instability, due to its geographical position (within the track of Atlantic hurricanes and its location on the Caribbean ‘tectonic’ plate) and its topography and geology (steep slopes with highly weathered material). Of these hazards, slope instability is the most common, affecting not only mountainous areas but also the coastal plains, where submarine landslides have been known to generate tsunamis. One such tsunami contributed to the destruction of the then capital city of Port Royal in 1692. Landslides are predominantly triggered by seismic activities and heavy rainfall associated with hurricanes and tropical depressions. These landslides have caused loss of lives, widespread destruction to the built and natural environment and long-term damage to the socio-economic development of the country. The slope instability problem is compounded by the lack of awareness of the impact by the general public, developers and planners, as well as uncontrolled and unplanned urbanization on marginal lands susceptible to slope failure.

    Bhattacharya Mis, Namrata; Chan,Faith; Kreibich,Heidi; Montz, Burrell; Lamond, Jessica; Proverbs, David; Wilkinson, Sara; University of Chester, Nottingham university, GHZ Berlin, University of East Carolina, University of West of England, Birmingham City University, UTS Sydney (Royal institution of Chartered Surveyors , London, 2018-04-23)
    There is an increasing body of research which identifies the need for flood risk mitigation advice and the potential for building professionals such as surveyors to be involved. This research explored the potential for surveyors to play a greater role in advising on at-risk commercial properties to better manage risk within the commercial property sector. Through a series of 72 expert interviews of professionals in the field of flood risk management in five international markets (UK, US, Australia, China and Germany), the research developed a picture of the current and potential role surveyors can play in providing professional advice on flood risk affected commercial properties. The interviews revealed that a wide set of opportunity lies in expert surveyors’ technical and local knowledge and understanding of risk mitigation and damage reduction processes, building typology, commercial land use, property valuation, and insurance schemes. However, their ability to offer flood specific advice is constrained by lack of: flood related expertise and training, market demand, client awareness of flood risk and, an willingness to invest in advice and mitigation measures on behalf of clients. The research highlights the need for collaborative practice to enable well informed all round advice on flood risk resilience. The findings also highlight the need for additional flood risk education and training for surveyors to assist them to provide improved risk mitigation advice.

    Miller, Servel; Malgorzata, Leszczynska; University of Chester; University of Warmia (2017-07-05)
    The touristic maps are the one of the most popular and widely used among the society type of map. However the ones are not official map and no government entity of Poland responsible for producing and distributing this types of maps. Therefore they are not free for local governments. Tourist on line maps are an ideal way for cities and region to promote their local business community. Indeed, it is estimated that hundred billion is spent on travel and tourism annually in the Poland. This is why local governments spend a large financial outlay for the creation of online tourist maps. But the tourist maps created base on non-standardized and official source become quickly outdated and update them is expensive. It seems to be good solution use constantly updated topographic databases for produce tourist maps to promote cities. The one is funded with taxes therefore can be usable without fees for public entities and it is national resource not classified for national security reasons. The series of articles about use topographic database for non-standard project topics will present an algorithm and legal and technological limitations appearing during the attempts to use topographic maps to create online tourist maps base on topographic databases. The article is an introduction to this subject.
  • A Sustainable Future in the Making? The Maker Movement, the Maker-Habitus and Sustainability

    Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (Routledge, 2018-04-06)
    Recent years have seen the emergence of what has been termed a new ‘maker movement’. Alternately cast either as an essentially new mode of engagement with the practices and potentialities of making instigated by the development of new technologies, or a (re)turn to the fundamentals and rewards of traditional crafts, opportunities to practice making in an array of forms are increasingly widespread. Whilst there has been some (limited) acknowledgement of the role a (re)valorisation of making might play in a more environmentally sustainable material culture (e.g. Brook 2012), how such connections might be made and supported has remained unexplored. This chapter draws on both theoretical and empirical sources in order to articulate a conceptual ‘maker-habitus’ – an embodied orientation to the material world characterised by an interest in material (re)production. I argue that fundamental to the ‘maker-habitus’ is a particularly acute affordance sensitivity – that is, an ability to identify the potentialities of materials and material things. Recent empirical work is used to illustrate this notion at work and, in turn, to suggest that increasing societal support for the proliferation of such sensibilities might be key to eliciting a more environmentally sustainable everyday material culture.
  • Coastal landslide mapping of the Black Ven Spittles complex, Charmouth

    Miller, Servel; Morris Chloe; University of Chester (Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, 2014-01-01)
    Landslides are not generally perceived as natural hazards that significantly affect the UK. However, slope instability affects many parts of Britain including the Dorset and Devon coastline. Black Ven Spittles is a classic landslide complex along this coastline, exhibiting some of the largest and most dynamic landslips in Europe. It has a long history of instability with significant events occurring as recently as 2008 when a succession of rock falls occurred towards the western side of the complex, uncovering waste material from the old town tip. With the beach adjacent to the landslide regularly used by tourists, fossil hunters and locals for recreational activities, it is of paramount importance that landslides be mapped to determine the active areas. Such mapping may be used for effectively managing the risk posed for this landslide complex. Through field and geospatial mapping techniques utilising remote sensing imagery and Geographical Information Systems (GIS), the most updated geomorphic map of the landslide complex is presented. The maps produced as a result of this research identify how the ‘system’ has changed since 1996 when the most comprehensive geomorphic map prior to this research was published. The most active section of the landslide complex is near the village of Charmouth, which is popular with tourists and fossil-hunters. By identifying this increasing risk, management can be better informed and the public made more accurately aware of this natural hazard
  • Engaging in radical work: Students as partners in academic publishing

    Healey, Ruth L.; Healey, Mick; Cliffe, Anthony D.; University of Chester; University of Gloucestershire; Liverpool John Moores University (Efficiency Exchange, 2018-05)
    Students as partners is the radical antithesis of the consumerist mind-set in higher education. Yet students have traditionally been absent from one key arena of academia: publishing. The International Journal for Students as Partners seeks to address this absence through pairing academic and student co-editors for all its sections.
  • April 2010 UK Airspace closure: Experience and impact on the UK’s air-travelling

    Miller, Servel; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2011-04-13)
    Ash emitted from the Eyjafjallajökull Icelandic volcano and which drifted into UK airspace resulted in the airspace being closed between the 14th and 20th of April 2010. The airport closure resulted in over a million travellers being affected and highlighted the shortcomings of airlines, travel agencies and governments to respond adequately to such crisis. In the current (2010) economic climate, where airline and travel companies are declaring themselves bankrupt with increased frequency, it is imperative that passengers do not lose confidence in the industry, which may impact directly on the industry’s continuing economic viability. Understanding passengers’ experiences is crucial to remedying negative experiences and harnessing ‘good practice’ for the advancement of the industry. To gain a better understanding of the crisis and its impact, a questionnaire was administered to members of the UK air-travelling public immediately after the airspace was re-opened. This research highlights the problems faced by passengers throughout the crisis and the way it impacted on their lives and livelihoods. Analysis of the survey results indicates two general themes regarding passengers’ support during the crisis. First, the needs for accommodation support during the crisis, and second, the need for effective, efficient, timely and reliable communication during the crisis, particularly to those stranded overseas. The latter is the dominant theme and the one that caused passengers the most stress, anxiety and inconvenience. Just over 90% of all those surveyed highlighted the failure of airline, travel agencies and/or government to provide timely and appropriate information as the major issue during the airspace closure. The airspace closure also caused adverse health impacts, with seventy-percent of respondents highlighting this as a concern. Although passengers were greatly inconvenienced and found their insurance cover insufficient during the crisis, fifty-six percent indicated that they would not take out additional ash cloud cover, with most citing the risk as too low to warrant it and/or the additional expense too much. Seventy-nine percent of respondents indicated that the crisis had little or no impact on their decision to fly in the future
  • Landslide Susceptibility Assessment for ST. Thomas, Jamaica.

    Miller, Servel; Harris, Norman; Bhalai, Suresh; University of Chester; Mines and Geology department, Jamaica (2007-07-01)
    The parish of St Thomas in Jamaica is highly prone to slope failure and in the past this has resulted in extensive damage and in some cases loss of life. To reduce the effect from landslides, there was an urgent need to map and assess areas that may be prone to future failure. Aerial photographs coupled with geomorphological field mapping were used to inventory the landslides. The factors conditioning the slopes for failure were assessed and a weighting value assigned to them. The weighting was achieved by using the principle of Bayesian conditional probability. The weighted factors were combined in a Geographical Information System (GIS) to produce a landslide susceptibility model for the study area. The susceptibility model created is in general agreement with the distribution of landslides in the area. Comparison of the model with the existing landslides showed that 97% of the landslides fell within the high and very high susceptibility zones of the model. Comparison of the model with landslides that occurred during 2002, and that were not used in the construction of the model, shows that 83 of the 89 slides that occurred fell within the high and very high susceptibility zones. The landslide susceptibility model created hopefully will be one of the first steps in looking at the risks landslides pose to lives, developments, whether it is housing, agriculture or the physical infrastructure and may be used to guide land-use planning in the parish
  • Aspiring academics: a resource book for graduate students and early career faculty

    Healey, Ruth L.; Healey, Mick; University of Sheffield; University of Gloucestershire (Taylor and Francis, 2008-09-01)
    Book Review
  • Performing Academic Practice: Using the Master Class to Build Postgraduate Discursive Competences

    Bærenholdt, Jorgen O.; Gregson, Nicky; Everts, Jonathan; Granås, Brynhild; Healey, Ruth L.; Roskilde University; University of Sheffield; University of Sheffield; University of Tromso; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2010-04-27)
    How can we find ways of training PhD students in academic practices, while reflexively analysing how academic practices are performed? The paper’s answer to this question is based on evaluations from a British–Nordic master class. The paper discusses how master classes can be used to train the discursive skills required for academic discussion, commenting and reporting. Methods used in the master class are: performing and creative arts pedagogical exercises, the use of written provocations to elicit short papers, discussion group exercises, and training in reporting and in panel discussion facilitated by a meta-panel discussion. The authors argue that master classes have the potential to further develop advanced-level PhD training, especially through their emphasis on reflexive engagement in the performance of key academic skills.
  • Landslide susceptibility mapping in North-East Wales

    Miller, Servel; Degg, Martin; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2011-10-04)
    In North-East Wales, United Kingdom, slope instability is a known environmental hazard which has caused significant damage to the built environment in the recent past. This paper reports on the creation of a digital landslide inventory for North-East Wales and the use of a Geographical Information System (GIS) to create landslide susceptibility models that are applicable to landslide hazard management in the area. The research undertaken has resulted in the most comprehensive landslide inventory of North-East Wales to date, documenting 430 landslides within the area. Landslide susceptibility models created within a GIS using a statistical (multiple logistic regression) approach, divide the landscape of North-East Wales into areas of ‘low’, ‘moderate’ and ‘high’ landslide susceptibility using calculated probability values. These models indicate that 8% of the surface exposure of drift deposits and 12% of the area of solid geology is of high or very high susceptibility to slope instability. Validation tests have demonstrated the accuracy of these models and their potential value in a predictive sense. The digital landslide database and susceptibility models created are readily available to interested stakeholders, and may be useful tools in land-use planning, development of civil contingency plans and as guidance for the insurance industry.
  • Staff-student partnership: Inclusive/exclusive pedagogical practices

    Moore-Cherry, Niamh; Healey, Ruth L.; University College Dublin; University of Chester (RAISE, 2018-04)
    This workshop focused on student-staff partnership working in a mass education system. Specifically we explored whether in a mass education system we can, and should, engage in partnership working that goes beyond just selected staff and students to become mainstream pedagogical practice.
  • How to conduct a literature search

    Healey, Mick; Healey, Ruth L.; University of Gloucestershire; University of Chester (SAGE, 2016-06-04)
    Identifying the most relevant, up-to-date and reliable references is a critical stage in the preparation of a whole range of assessments at university including essays, reports and dissertations, but it is a stage which is often undertaken unsystematically and in a hurry. This chapter is designed to help you improve the quality of your literature search. There is a growing interest in higher education in students undertaking research and inquiry projects and co-inquiring with academics not just in their final year but throughout their undergraduate studies (Healey and Jenkins, 2009; Healey et al., 2013, 2014a, b). Undertaking a thorough literature search is a key element in undertaking a research or inquiry project.
  • Gendered experiences of academic staff in relation to research activity and the REF2014

    Davies, Chantal; Healey, Ruth L.; Cliffe, Anthony D.; University of Chester (2016-06)
    This report is based on research commissioned by the institutional Research and Knowledge Transfer Office between June 2015 and June 2016. This research has focused on generating qualitative and quantitative data as to the potential reasons why there appears to be a gender disparity in research productivity within the commissioning institution. In particular, the number of women self-selecting for representation in the REF2014 was comparatively low. This research was led by Dr Chantal Davies (as part of her broader remit in relation to the Forum for Research into Equality and Diversity) with Dr Ruth Healey as co-researcher and Anthony Cliffe as research assistant. A Steering Group made up of representatives from across the institution oversaw the process.
  • Would Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) be welcomed by undergraduate students to support their learning during fieldwork?

    Welsh, Katharine E.; Mauchline, Alice; France, Derek; Powell, Victoria; Whalley, W. Brian; Park, Julian R.; University of Chester; University of Reading; University of Sheffield (Taylor & Francis, 2018-02-15)
    This paper reports student perceptions of the benefits and challenges of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in a fieldwork context. Student perceptions from six field courses across two institutions have been gathered using questionnaires and focus groups. Whilst a number of studies have focused on BYOD in a classroom context, little research has been undertaken about BYOD in a fieldwork context. The key findings suggest that around one fifth of students were not willing to use their own device during fieldwork citing loss or damage as the main reason. This key challenge is different to that which are found in a classroom which generally focus on network security, connectivity etc. The findings also suggest that some students believe that BYOD can have a negative impact on group work. There is a misalignment here between student and practitioner thinking with previous literature which suggests that practitioners believe BYOD and smart devices can enhance group work. The one key challenge which is found regardless of learning environment is inequality between those who have a device and those who do not.
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges

    Miller, Servel; Welsh, Katharine E.; University of Chester (Nova Science Publishers, 2017-12-01)
    The recent growth of mobile device ownership provides significant opportunities for universities to utilise these devices to enhance the student experience. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) allows students to use their own devices in an educational environment. This can provide opportunities such as students feeling more familiar with the technology, enabling personalisation of the devices, and could potentially reduce the cost of keeping up to date with new technology for higher education institutions. However a number of challenges also exist such as how to ensure students without mobile devices feel included and the issue of devices acting as a distraction. This chapter focuses on student’s perceptions of BYOD including how motivated they feel to learn and how they use their own devices in the classroom. The findings suggest that students are willing to use their own devices, they feel more motivated to learn and they feel more connected with teaching overall.

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