The University of Southampton

ENVS1004 Environmental Science: Concepts and Communication

Module Overview

This module (1) focuses on environmental issues across a range of themes and (2) provides a focal point for the first year of your programme of study in Environmental Sciences, in terms of both knowledge and understanding, and study skills. The module considers knowledge and understanding of the environment in an inter- and multi-disciplinary basis, then how information about the environment is obtained and used. Sessions work towards combining and analysing information to enable prediction of change and response to interventions. The lectures, seminars, tutorials and other sessions demonstrate the wide variety of information which is available about the environment, and the ways in which information can be drawn together to understand environmental processes and to inform decisions regarding the environment. Good practice and efficiency in study are introduced via elements of the lecture programme and tutorials. Approaches to identifying the generic and subjectspecific skills needed to be an effective environmental scientist are also explored,providing a framework for enhancement and development of your generic, study and subject-specific skills. Lectures are used as a forum for (1) presenting seminars on contemporary environmental issues, and (2) introducing and developing key academic skills. Sessions on key skills are aligned with and complementary to tutorials. Tutorial groups are organised to bring together students with similar interest, i.e. who have selected the same pathway as a focal point for their studies. Materials considered in tutorials have two main purposes: (1) to reinforce and develop further the academic skills introduced in lectures (e.g. discussion and guided self-study exercises), and (2) encourage student-centred learning via formative assessments focusing on contemporary environmental topics or themes. In addition, field sessions provide hands-on training in environmental management (for woodlands as an exemplar) and an introduction to structured observation, interpretation and analysis in mixed environments influenced by human activity (linked to summative assessment).

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Encourage you to think, read about and discuss current environmental issues on an inter- and multi-disciplinary basis. ? Provide a focal point for the first year of your programme of study, in terms of both knowledge and understanding, and study skills. ? Provide a framework for enhancement and development of your generic, study and subject-specific 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
  • The terminology, nomenclature and classification systems used in environmental science
  • Methods of acquiring, interpreting and analysing environmental science information with a critical understanding of the appropriate contexts for their use
  • 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
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
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
  • Evaluating performance as an individual and a team member
  • 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:

  • Referencing work in an appropriate manner


- Contemporary environmental issues; - Information sources and resources; - Subject and study skills; - Field excursion and practical conservation; - Prediction and management of environments, resources and habitats.

Special Features

For field trips, students with special needs will be counselled individually to seek means to enable them to benefit from this experience fully. Both field trips involve moving short distances from a vehicle to specific sites; individual assessments will be made to evaluate if and how suitable arrangements can be made. All activities during field trips are conducted in small teams, hence (as is usual for teamoriented tasks) the capabilities and skills of all individuals must be considered and accounted for within each team, but with additional tutor support and guidance for individuals with special needs. For students with specials needs, an individual assessment with be made and appropriate arrangements made to ensure they are enabled to benefit from the exercise or an equivalent experience.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include Lectures; discussion sessions; student presentations and tutorial sessions. The unit will be delivered by lecture and discussion sessions, with an emphasis on student input and group exercises. Students are encouraged to participate in debates at all times. The lectures will be delivered by the unit co-ordinator and contributing lecturing and research staff in the Centre for Environmental Sciences. The student presentations will be student-led with appropriate guidance from the unit co-ordinator. The tutorial sessions will be conducted in pathway specific groups by the personal tutors. Learning activities include (see examples below) - Attendance at lectures - Self-directed learning - supplementary and complementary taught and practical materials. - Private study – research for and preparation of module assignment. - Private study – research for and preparation of module assignment. - Preparation and delivery of tutorial group presentations - Participation in seminars and discussion groups - Discussion of environmental issues in tutorial sessions - An assignment to develop writing skills for a non-scientific audience

Preparation for scheduled sessions12
Follow-up work12
Completion of assessment task40
External visits4
Wider reading or practice12
Total study time150





MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 50%
Examination  (60 minutes) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 50%
Examination  (60 minutes) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-reqs: ENVS1006 - Environmental Science: Research and Applications. ENVS1005 - Quantitative Methods


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

You will need to provide and wear your own suitable clothing when attending field courses, e.g. waterproofs, walking boots. You can purchase these from any source and costs will vary depending on your preference. You will be expected to purchase your own lunch and any additional refreshments. (clothing)

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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