Methodology in environmental and regional studies


Environmental and Regional Studies (3rd level)

Biodiversity and ecology (3rd Cycle)
Paleobiology and sedimentary geology (3rd Cycle)
Regional studies (3rd Cycle)

Course code: DT001
Year of study: 1st year

Course principal:
Assist. Prof. Rok Ciglič, Ph. D.
Prof. Simona Kralj-Fišer, Ph. D.


Workload: lectures 30 hours, seminar 30 hours, tutorial 20 hours, field work 10 hours, individual work 180 hours.
Course type: mandatory
Languages: Slovene, English
Learning and teaching methods: lectures, seminar, tutorial, individual work


Course syllabus (download)


Finished second Bologna level in the appropriate field or University degree VII.


Content (Syllabus outline):


  • Essentials of the research work
  • Organization of science in Slovenia
  • Web information sources (Web of Science, Google Scholar, Mendeley)
  • Research methods
  • Validity and reliability of the results
  • Reporting research outcomes: how to write scientific papers, monographs and doctoral thesis
  • Ethical considerations in science


Overview of quantitative and qualitative methods

  • Types of data
  • Selected quantitative methods in natural and human sciences
  • Selected qualitative methods in natural and human sciences


Basics of geographical information systems

  • Introduction into GIS
  • Remote sensing
  • Spatial statistics and landscape metrics
  • Classification, decision support
  • Field work and GIS
  • Cartography and web GIS


Selected sources of data and software

  • Digital sources of data
  • Archival sources
  • Software for landscape research


Essentials of the method in natural sciences

  • Specifics of experimental design in natural sciences
  • Reasoning, confounding factors and specific ethical considerations in natural sciences


The basics of research methodology in biodiversity, ecology and evolution research

  • case studies method presentation using field work and laboratory approaches


The basics of research methodology in palaeontology and sedimentary geology

  • Specific reasoning in Earth Science, Specific analytical techniques in paleontology, stratigraphy and sedimentology, Basic rules of taxonomic nomenclature, Basic rules of stratigraphic nomenclature


The basics of research methodology in karstology

  • examples of geological-geomorphological, hydrogeological, meteorological, physical, chemical (laboratory) and geographical (spatial) methods


Laboratory work

  • Introduction into selected computer programmes
  • Critical discussion of the methods used in selected scientific studies
  • GIS



  • Presentation of an example of research project


Field work

  • Research work in the field (human science)
  • Research work in the field and in the laboratory (natural science)



  • Ruxton, G., & Colegrave, N. (2017). Experimental design for the life sciences. Oxford University Press. 4th Edition. Chapters I – VI.
  • Vrišer, I. 2002: Uvod v geografijo. Ljubljana. Chapters 1, 3, 4
  • Guides for researchers. URL: (selected websites)
  • Rogerson, P. 2006: Statistical methods for geography: a student guide. London. Chapters 1,2, 10
  • Dillman, D. A., Smyth, J. D., Christian, L. M. 2014: Internet, Phone, Mail, and Mixed Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. Hoboken. Chapters 1, 3
  • Burrough, P. A., McDonnell, R. A., Lloyd, C. D. 2015: Principles of geographical information systems. Oxford. Chapters 1–6, 11
  • Campbell, J. B. 1996: Introduction to remote sensing. London. Chapters 1, 11, 12
  • Brewer, C. A. 2005: Designing better maps. A guide for GIS users. Redlands. Chapters 1–4
  • Ager, D.V. 1993. The nature of the stratigraphic record (3rd edition). Wiley and Sons.
  • Frodeman R. 1995. Geological reasoning: Geology as an interpretive and historical science. GSA Bulletin 107 (8), 960–968.
  • Cochran, W., Fenner, P., Hill, M. 1979. Geowriting. A guide to writing, editing, and printing in Earth science (3rd edition). American Geological Institute. (or a later edition of this manual)
  • Tucker, M. 1988. Techniques in Sedimentology. Blackwell Scientific Publications.
  • The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN, 2012); The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN, 4th edition, 1999) (both in free online access).
  • Salvador, A. (Ed.) 1994. International Stratigraphic Guide. A guide to stratigraphic classification, terminology, and procedure (2nd edition). International Subcommission on Stratigraphic Classification of IUGS International Commission on Stratigraphy


Objectives and competences:

General part

The objective of this course is to help students to embrace the concepts and methods in science from research problem identification to reporting research outcomes. The course will introduce students to the common scientific concepts, to experimental design, data acquisition and statistical analyses. Special emphasis will be laid on scientific ethics. The courses will overview the quantitative and qualitative methods, geographic information systems and data collection. In order to disseminate results effectively, the course will teach scientific dissemination. Our objective is to present selected research studies to students and to teach the student for critical reasoning in science.


Specific part

  • Students will learn how to set and realize research.


Specific goals:

  • overview of research methods in natural science, in particularly in the fields of biodiversity, ecology and evolution research, palaeontology and sedimentary geology and karstology
  • overview of research methods in humanities, particularly in geography
  • overview of quantitative and qualitative methods,
  • capability of designing research work plan,
  • capability of independent research work (with modern methodology),
  • capability of presenting research results,
  • capability of collecting data and materials.



  • Student will have adequate skills for independent research work.


Intended learning outcomes:

  • Knowledge of methods and concepts in natural (biodiversity, ecology and evolution research, palaeontology and sedimentary geology, karstology) and human sciences
  • Ability to design sound research work
  • Basic experiences with software used in research
  • Ability to use GIS in research
  • Practical experiences with research work in natural and human sciences
  • Ability to write and critically review scientific literature



Exam (80 %), laboratory work (20 %).