The University of Southampton

UOSM2015 Sustainability in the Local and Global Environment

Module Overview

This innovative Sustainability module involves academic staff from across the university representing an appropriately diverse range of disciplines, in addition to operational environmental management staff to demonstrate how the University is contributing to sustainable development. Sustainability modules through the rest of the HE sector focus predominantly on sustainability in the global context. Whilst this will be addressed, this module will be innovative through its use of the University and surrounding community as a learning and assessment vehicle for sustainability. The module provides students with a richer educational experience through opportunities to study issues beyond their traditional discipline boundaries. The syllabus will involve contributions from lecturers from each faculty to ensure balanced coverage of sustainable development from all academic approaches. It will expose students to some of the world class research across the university, and introduce them to the complex range of perspectives on the issues of our and future generations through interdisciplinary study.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To explore the range of contested definitions of sustainable development. • To apply sustainable development in the context of the home academic discipline of all students and relate to other areas of study. • To investigate the relationship between the range of stakeholders involved in the application of sustainable development in local, national and global policy. • To explore how different academic disciplines can contribute to the goal of sustainable development. • To demonstrate the diverse range of leading sustainability research taking place across the University of Southampton. • To develop an agreed set of Sustainable Development Goals through participation in a Student Sustainable Development Summit. • To apply emerging multimedia and social networking techniques in the development and distribution of a series of sustainability films. Further benefits: 1. Communication skills will be developed through student led discussion seminars, the production of student sustainability films, delivery of a conference presentation, participation in a conference plenary session. 2. This module will enhance the employability profiles of students through an improved understanding of the global environment and political infrastructures surrounding sustainability. 3. The module will encompass the graduate attributes of global citizenship and ethical leadership in empowering students to incorporate sustainability knowledge in their decision making processes when in employment. 4. The module will also help participating students widen their employment opportunities as employers seek to move towards the increasingly high-profile ‘greener’ economy. Students will develop interdisciplinary awareness enhancing their disciplinary knowledge and teamwork skills.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The need for both a multi-disciplinary and an interdisciplinary approach in advancing knowledge and understanding of Earth systems, drawing, as appropriate, from the natural and the social sciences
  • The processes which shape the natural world at different temporal and spatial scales and their influence on and by human activities
  • Issues concerning the availability and sustainability of resources, for example, the different value sets relating to the Earth's resources as commodities and/or heritage
  • The contribution of environmental science to debate on environmental issues and how knowledge of these forms the basis for informed concern about the Earth and its people
  • The contribution of environmental science to the development of knowledge of the world we live in
  • The applicability of environmental science to the world of work
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Receiving and responding to a variety of information sources (eg textual, numerical, verbal, graphical)
  • Communicating appropriately to a variety of audiences in written, verbal and graphical forms
  • Using the internet critically as a means of communication and a source of information
  • Identifying individual and collective goals and responsibilities and performing in a manner appropriate to these roles
  • Recognising and respecting the views and opinions of other team members
  • Experience of working as part of a group
  • Developing the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (eg working independently, time management and organisation skills)
  • Identifying and working towards targets for personal, academic and career development
  • Developing an adaptable and flexible approach to study and work
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Planning, conducting, and reporting on environmental investigations, including the use of secondary data
  • Referencing work in an appropriate manner
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Recognising and using subject-specific theories, paradigms, concepts and principles
  • Analysing, synthesising and summarising information critically, including prior research
  • Applying knowledge and understanding to complex and multidimensional problems in familiar and unfamiliar contexts
  • Recognising the moral and ethical issues of investigations and appreciating the need for professional codes of conduct


The opening fortnight of the module will focus on developing an understanding of sustainability. The content will address the contested nature of sustainable development, then move onto the application of sustainability to different areas of academic study. There will be case study examples of sustainability at the University of Southampton and the city of Southampton through a series of on-line resources including videos led by sustainability practitioners within the university and the local community. This will be followed by an exploration of sustainability projects and issues from different nations to demonstrate the global application of sustainable development. Students will then participate in a ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ Summit to replicate the global sustainable development political challenge. The middle section of the module will be divided into four sustainability themes, focusing on broad interdisciplinary issues from across all areas of academic study at the University.. Each sustainability theme will be introduced by a keynote lecture delivered by a leading researcher from the area of study. The keynote lectures are recorded in advance using panopto and held on the module blackboard site. All students are required to watch the keynote lecture and complete the recommended reading in advance of the discussion session. Students will then able to revisit the keynote lectures at any point during the module and the remainder of their university studies. Each sustainability theme will incorporate a student conference. To ensure students develop an inter- disciplinary understanding of sustainability they will not deliver a conference presentation in their registered area of study (unless extenuating circumstances apply). All students will be placed into a group and allocated a sustainability conference theme. There will be three group presentations per conference. Each conference presentation will last a maximum of 20 minutes with 10 minutes for questions. Each group is required to submit their conference abstract for approval to the conference chair one week prior to the conference. Timetable: Week 1 : Single session - Introduction, module agenda, assessment briefing, Introduction to the module team Double session - An introduction to sustainability (Lecture and workshop) Week 2 : Single session - Sustainability in Southampton Double session - Global and local Sustainable Development case studies. Groups allocation; Conference & conference paper instructions; Video project groups and instructions Week 3 : Single session - Groups allocation; Conference & conference paper instructions; Video project groups and instructions Introduction to the field trip. Double session - The Sustainability Challenge: field visit to a local sustainability issue. Week 4 : Single session - Social Sustainability. Double session - Social Sustainability. Week 5 : Single session - Cultural Sustainability. Double session - Cultural Sustainability. Week 6 : Single session - Economic Sustainability. Double session - Economic Sustainability. Week 7 : Single session - Environmental Sustainability. Double session - Environmental Sustainability. Week 8 : Single session - Cultural Sustainability Student Conference. Double session - Social Sustainability Student Conference (double session required). Week 9 : Single session - Economic Sustainability Student Conference (double session required). Double session - Environmental Sustainability Student Conference. Week 10 : Single session - Sustainable Development Goals Summit. Double session - Sustainable Development Goals Summit. Week 11 : Single session - Assessment: Sustainability Film Festival. Double session - Assessment: Sustainability Film Festival. Week 12 : Single session -Film festival feedback and marks The Future for Sustainability discussion session. Double session - Research questions in sustainability Module Summary and close.

Special Features


Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • The module will be delivered by lectures in class, filmed lectures viewed through blackboard, case-study workshops, discussion seminar sessions, student conferences, and a Student Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit. The sessions will be delivered by the module lead and by contributors from across the University academic community. • Directed reading, individual and group assignments, private study. Learning activities include: • Attendance at and participation in lectures, case-study workshops and discussion seminars. • Development and delivery of a professional conference presentation. • Production of an academic journal article for possible publication in the Sustainability Conference Season Proceedings. • Film development and presentation. • Contribution to a mock international policy summit. • Group-based research and debating sessions. • Self-directed learning complementary to materials covered in contact sessions oriented towards preparation of module assignments. • Debating techniques through engagement in the discussion seminars and the case-study workshops. How is this module innovative in delivery? The development of the module will incorporate innovative forms of delivery and assessment through the involvement of the University’s Learning Technologist. We make use of the Panopto lecture capture system for all traditional lectures, and adopt the system for student presentations to provide them with formative assessment of their presentation and discussion skills. The content will utilise the University estate and surrounding community as learning and assessment spaces for Education for Sustainable Development. We will also explore students making films about a chosen sustainability theme as a further form of assessment. The module can also be considered innovative in the delivery of a series of student sustainability conferences where the students are required to deliver a conference presentation following academic conference instructions followed by plenary sessions, all in their ‘non-native’ discipline. At the end of the module we will also be running a Student Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) summit to replicate the groupings formed in the recent UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and attempt to get the different nation groupings to agree upon Sustainable Development Goals for the international community.

Completion of assessment task88
Wider reading or practice12
Preparation for scheduled sessions12
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Materials. There are no key texts associated with this module. Students are guided towards appropriate resources and expected to discover their own materials.


Assessment Strategy



MethodPercentage contribution
Conference paper  (4000 words) 60%
Interdisciplinary film creation and production 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Conference paper  (4000 words) 60%
Interdisciplinary film creation and production 40%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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