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GEOG6098 Introduction to Sustainability

Module Overview

GEOG6098 is a multidisciplinary unit designed for students with an interest in sustainable development, sustainability, green growth, complex socio-ecological systems, and resilient development. Over the term we will explore the key issues and debates around sustainability, and undertake practical work to develop students’ skills in interpreting and evaluating the multiple sustainability values and perspectives. This module will provide students with a firm grounding in the relationship between sustainability and the core concepts of justice, ethics and wellbeing, integrated modelling processes, conservation and ecology, economic growth and development, politics and governance, technology, tools/frameworks, and resilience. The module will consider both past examples of sustainable development as well as current and emerging challenges relating to sustainability. Lectures in weeks 1, and 12 will provide a front and back end to the course as well as provice some practical insights to the skills required for consualtancy and research proposal development. Seminars will run in parallel with lectures with typically a double slot seminar following on from a lecture. In the seminars we will review and apply theories and concepts in real world contexts. This will be delivered through case studies and practical and discursivework.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide a thorough theoretical and applied understanding of sustainability, Sustainability science and engage students in the key debates, and equip students with practical sustainability evaluation skills in the UK and Internationally.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Carefully articulate the multiple interpretations of sustainability and the worldviews that underpin these perspectives
  • Critically evaluate the concepts of justice, ethics and wellbeing, conservation, resilience, and economic growth and development
  • Describe to a lay person the successes and failures of past attempts at sustainability, the reasons for these, and the future direction of sustainability
  • Critique the popular and academic literature on sustainable development and socio-ecological resilience revealing an understanding of the multiple perspectives, while also being able to identify robust concerns or options
  • Produce academic and commercially relevant information on sustainability for scientific as well as non-scientific audiences
  • Describe multiple examples of the interconnectedness of justice, ethics and wellbeing, conservation, complex systems’ resilience, and economic growth and development


SEMINAR TOPICS Introduction & Assements/Global Challenges (ET) The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)/Assement 1 (CH) Adaptive Management in Sustainability (CH) Developing Argument maps/Assesment 2 (MS) Beyond the imperative of economic growth (MS) Field Trip / Developing a policy BRIEF (CH) Tipping points (CH) World views (MS) Sustainable procurment - Practical approaches (CH/PD) Modelling Sustainability (CH) Christmas Holiday Developing funding Bids in Sustainability sceince (CH) LECTURE TOPICS Sustainability History (ET) Frameworks for Susatinable Management (CH) Developing Argument Maps (MS) Beyond the imperative of economic growth (MS) Alternative Development and growth Strategies (MS) Reading week Field Trip Thursday 15th November (CH) Planetary Boundaries (Socio-ecological Systems) (CH) World views (MS) Indicator development workshop (CH) Developing funding Bids in Sustainability sceince (CH) Christmas Holiday Thinking about Dissertation (CH) CH = Prof. Craig Hutton, ET = Prof. Emma Tompkins, MS = Marije Schaafsma

Special Features

For features such as field trips, information should be included as to how students with special needs will be enabled to benefit from this or an equivalent experience if necassary. One field trip in the sixth week of the module will be organised to BREGroup in Watford. This is an internation sustainability and construction centre

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

• 11 weeks x 2 hours Seminar • 1 x 8 hour field trip to BREGrroup • 11 weeks x 1 hour Lecture • 2 x 1 hour help session (anticiapted) • Total hours = 43 Daily responses to BB forum queries from a module convenor and other teaching staff Participatory learning approaches, peer-learning and collaboration - within and beyond the classroom – lie at the heart of this module, thereby allowing students to be exposed to multiple perspectives and enabling creative responses to emerge. This will be achieved through weekly seminars and a second assignment that is about collaboration and cooperation.

Independent Study115
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Adger, W.N. and Jordan, A. (eds) (2009). Governing Sustainability. 

Mulligan, Martin (2014). An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives. 

Blewitt, John (2015). Understanding Sustainable Development. 


Assessment Strategy

• Repeat failed assignment (if assignment 1 or 3). • Formative assessment does not need to be passed • Student needs to gain an average pass mark of 50% to successfully complete this module


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment  () 40%
Assessment tasks  () 30%
Coursework assignment(s)  (1500 words) 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


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

Students will be expected to pay for their own lunch and refreshments during the day. (fieldwork)

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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