Participation in fieldwork is a fantastic opportunity to take what we have learned in class into the real world. The IBO state that this enterprise should strive, ‘to reinforce and extend the study of particular themes within the course‘. Thus, students should seek to go beyond what they already understand and are encourage to act and think creatively. Another important consideration are the potential grades that students could receive, as shown here:

Paper 1 40% Paper 1 25%
Paper 2 35% Paper 2 35%
Paper 3 n/a Paper 3 20%
IA 25% IA 20%

For both SL and HL students this is a good opportunity to get some marks in the bag before even setting foot in the exam hall. Although fieldwork is conducted together the writing of the report and formation of conclusion etc. needs to be done individually ? THERE IS NO WAY OF GETTING AWAY WITH SHARING THE WRITING OF REPORTS AS ALL REPORTS GO TO THE SAME MODERATOR!!!


1) Preparation and planning

The aims of this stage are to:

  • Choose and area of study and formulate a research question and hypothesis
  • Understand the theoretical and methodological knowledge/skills needed to complete the study
  • Plan what the study will involve, how it will be conducted and what materials will be used
  • Test the methods which are to be used, i.e. conduct a pilot survey

The focus of these aims is to ensure that everyone involved in the fieldwork will know what they are doing and why they are doing it.

If this is achieved, the writing of the report later will be much easier. Accordingly, during this stage it is important to keep note of what decisions are made and why you made them. 

2) Data Collection

The data collected should be both qualitative and quantitative in order that the report be balanced and informative. Where qualitative methods are used these should be taken from a broad number of sources e.g. do not just interview one person and present these ideas as universal.

Sampling and other methodology must be clearly planned and articulated to all group members. All students taking part need to be aware of the decisions made in the preparation and planning stage.

3) The writing of the report

Students have to produce work on their own, i.e. individual, written report. The emphasis of the report should be analytical and not purely descriptive.

The IBO guide lines for the written report are:

Report section Criterion Marks allocated out of 30 Suggested word limit within 2,500 words
Fieldwork question and geographic context A 3 300
Method(s) of investigation B 3 300
Quality and treatment of information collected and written analysis (Integrated) C & D 5 + 10 1,350
Conclusion E 2 200
Evaluation F 3 300
Formal requirements G 4 n/a
Total 30 2,450

As seen above the report must be written with reference to the mark scheme which can be found here

The report should be divided up into the following sections:

Introduction to the study

  • State research question
  • Use a map to introduce the area
  • Justify the research by stating hypothesis and giving a brief preliminary judgement
  • The geographic context must be briefly outlined, i.e. why and where the fieldwork investigation is to be carried out
  • State the area of the syllabus that the study relates

Methods of Data collection

  • Describe and justify the methods of data collection used
  • The word limit guidance for this section is 300 words. You may want to consider using photos, diagrams and maps to cut down words that have to be used to describe methods (see below).

Written presentation and analysis of results

  • To present the data it must be processed in some way ? do not show large amounts of raw data
  • Students are encouraged to use: statistical tests, graphs, diagrams, maps annotated photographs and images, matrices and field sketches
  • Remember to not only presenting the results they MUST BE ANALYSED
  • Explain any anomalies


  • Students should summarize the findings
  • Clear statement answering the research question
  • The results do not have to agree with your predictions


  • In this section students should reflect upon the whole investigation and consider the suitability of the techniques employed to test the original hypothesis (or hypotheses) set
  • They may wish to suggest an alternative hypothesis at this stage. They should discuss any limitations of the investigation and make recommendations for improvements and extensions


  • A full bibliography must be given at the end of the report showing all works that have consulted been ? whether referenced these in the work or not.
  • The Harvard System of Referencing must be used consistently throughout the coursework ? details of which can be found at:

Further guidance

Report writing help

What your teacher will do:

  • Give you clear help with planning, data collection and collation
  • Give clear instruction about the writing of your report
  • Explain the marking criteria

What your teacher will not do:

  • Read more than one draft of your work ? DO NOT HAND IN AN INCOMPLETE FIRST DRAFT this will put you at a great disadvantage later
  • Do
    your thinking/remembering for you but with you ? this is why you must
    keep careful notes during the planning and preparation, and data

Word limit
The report must be kept to a maximum of 2500 words. If you go over this
limit, any thing written over this will not be marked. The word limit
does not include:

  • The title page
  • Acknowledgments
  • Contents page
  • Titles and subtitles
  • References
  • Foot notes ? up to a maximum of 15 words each
  • Map legends and/or keys
  • Labels ? 10 words or less
  • Tables ? of statistical or numerical data, or categories, classes or group names
  • Calculations
  • Appendices ? containing only raw data and/or calculations

Examples of good practice

Here are some examples from previous years of good things to include in fieldwork. Data shown using map should be easy to understand and include a title, legend, orientation, boarder and scale.

FW map

The map and diagram below were very effective means of describing the methods that were used in the survey without using up a large part of the limited word count. In doing so the student allowed room for discussion of how these methods can be justified.

FW map method

FW method diagram

Photographs can be a very useful way of showing things that have been observed during the course of investigation.

FW photo
Where statistical tests are used these calculations should always be shown in a table.

FW stats

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