The outdoor physical environment provides copious opportunities to devise interesting and informative research projects covering a range of physical geography topics, many of which can be adapted to suit different target age groups. This chapter explores the fundamental design principles and processes needed to carry out projects using a positivist approach.

Key design considerations explored include: choosing a topic; site access; health, safety and ethics; formulation of hypotheses; research design; sampling regimes, data analysis and interpretation. A number of student originated case studies are employed to illustrate various aspects of positivist design for these types of outdoor studies.