Close this search box.

Fieldwork: How might rural isolation create economic challenges?

Photo of houses in the countryside for rural isolation teaching resource


People living in areas of rural isolation often face a range of challenges. A lack of public facilities locally means residents often have to travel outside of their area to access everyday services such as retail spaces, schools and healthcare centres. A lack of investment in public transport locally might mean people rely on their cars, further increasing the isolation for those who might not own one.

Download this resource as a PDF


Length of time

Half day.


Suitable locations

A rural village centre.


Equipment needed

A clipboard and survey sheets.


Objectives and key skills

  • The public transport survey provides students with a wealth of quantitative data that can be presented in many ways.
  • Students should be given opportunities to utilise and create maps to show where public transport routes can directly access from the village.
  • Students can also map using a desire line map how far residents would have to travel to access different order goods and services.


Suggested delivery

Students can collect data in three main areas to build a picture of economic issues in the village:

Public transport survey

Students can measure a number of public transport aspects:

  • How frequently the village is served by a bus (or another form of public transport).
  • How much it would cost to travel by bus to a town or place of additional service provision.
  • How long it might take to get to the nearest town by public transport compared to how long it would take by a private car.

Students could record this as raw data or create their own scoring system and then score each aspect of public transport according to that system.

Goods and services survey

Students can carry out a survey as to what goods and services are available in the village they are studying. These goods and services can be categorised into high, medium and low order, or again, a scoring system can be used to create more quantitative data. Once back from the field site, students can use online research to find out how far a village resident would have to travel in order to access low, medium and high order goods and services.

SWOT analysis of the village ‘centre’

In the centre of the village, students should take a photograph or draw a field sketch. Using digital or hand written annotations, students can then carry out a SWOT analysis. Comments should focus on the economic strengths that are evident, the economic weaknesses, the economic opportunities and the economic threats. A scaffolded template could be used for this so that students focus carefully on the right observations they make.

Students can then draw evidence together from all three of their tasks to see if there is any correlation of ideas and whether the economic challenges they have identified in the SWOT analysis are related to the public transport issues in the village and how far residents have to travel to access certain goods and services.


Potential risks to consider

  • Villages may not be served by pavements and pedestrian crossings so extra care might be needed when moving around the village.
  • Though rural areas tend to be quieter and have less traffic congestion than urban areas, for the same reasons, speeding in rural areas can be a problem.


Possible follow-up activities

From online sources, students may be able to look at the Index of Multiple Deprivation for both the rural area and the nearest town, comparing the indices connected with accessibility and isolation more closely.


Useful links

Rural Services Network – Transport Poverty

Social Market Foundation – Getting the Measure of Transport Poverty


This collection of Fieldwork activities was created by the Fieldwork and Outdoor Learning Special Interest Group (FOLSIG) for the National Festival of Fieldwork, the GA invites everyone to take part during the summer term.

Your Resources

Save this resource to your Dashboard

View any Online Teaching Resources you have saved

Journals & more

Find out more about the GA’s three journals and the GA magazine


GeogPod is the GA’s podcast, each episode discusses a different geographical topic

Want to access all our
Online Teaching Resources?

Many of our Online Teaching Resources are only available for GA members.

Find out information about our different types of memberships and join the GA today to view hundreds of resources on a wide variety of topics

We have much more support and guidance available including a wide range of events, publications, teaching resources and ways of getting involved with the GA that you also might be interested in.

More from GA

Explore our wide range support from the GA