The University of Southampton

RESM6018 Sustainability, Environment, Resilience

Module Overview

This module introduces students enrolled in the MSRM to research in Sustainability, Environment and Resilience (SER) and aims to provide students with an interdisciplinary understanding of the topics under this theme. The module engages with social and natural sciences to explore the necessities and/or potential synergies of interdisciplinary research within the SER theme. The module involves staff from the Universities of Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton working on relevant topics. Broad topics covered in this module could include: • Sustainable development • Poverty and wellbeing • Environmental justice and social difference • Ecosystem services, environmental economics and resource management • Resilience and vulnerability • Poverty and environment (including water, fuel and food poverty/security) • Environmental education and communication • Interactions between demographic and environmental/climatic change (migration, social transition, adaptation). • Human rights and gender equality. These topics will be discussed in a series of seminars, lectures, conferences/study days, debates, and discussion groups. Assessment will be focused on a group presentation and report where students will investigate a key contemporary issue prominent in the media through a case study based approach. Whilst students will work in a group each will take a section of the report to research, write and then present. The report must be coherent with a common thread running through, achieving this will require students to work together sharing findings and analysis as they go. Marking will be individual based on the quality of the student’s contribution to the report and presentation. In producing the report students should think about how they might be able to work it up into a peer review article and will be encouraged to do this.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The module aims to provide a thorough interdisciplinary, theoretical and applied understanding of sustainability, environment and resilience (SER), different perspectives on topics and the role of social sciences research in this space.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • explain the concepts, definitions and topics within SER and their relationships;
  • compare and debate multiple perspectives on SER through critical evaluation of existing academic SER research;
  • demonstrate advanced skills in applying social sciences methods to a study area;
  • describe and present the resulting information to a (non-)expert audience;
  • describe the (dis)advantages of interdisciplinary research in SER and articulate the contributions & limitations of their current/former main discipline(s).


The syllabus may vary from year to year and will respond to current debates and activities relevant to SER. It aims to complement existing modules provided at the Universities. In the first semester, it is envisaged that the students follow lectures in existing MSc level modules that provide a basic understanding of core concepts in SER (LO1,2). At the start of the semester, the Module coordinators will suggest relevant lectures/seminars and scrutinise these. Other perspectives on these topics, and additional topics, are covered throughout the year through activities (not lectures) (LO1). This may include attending seminars or other activities organised by Sustainability Science Southampton, the Coastal Seminar Series Southampton, USRG Nexus Science Southampton, University of Brighton Research Centre in Spatial, Environmental and Social Justice, University of Brighton School of Environment and Technology Seminar series and University of Brighton Aquatic Research Centre activities. Seminars organised by the Development Studies Group and the ‘Making Development Work’ research consultancy unit at University of Portsmouth - related to aims and learning outcomes specified above (LO1,2). For these activities, students will review not only the subject-relevant content, but also reflect on the approach to interdisciplinary research that is presented in the presented/existing research (LO5). In semester 2, students will engage in activities, in which they take an active role to debate research (debates, journal clubs), explore multiple perspectives, and convey the acquired information through the assignment (LO3,4).

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

These topics will be discussed in a series of seminars/lectures, debates/discussion groups, and an assignment. The 20 teaching hours could include: • Core lectures from existing courses on relevant SER topics offered in Semester 1; • Presentations on research projects – relevant to SER (either through Universities’ seminars / conferences or organised by the TCPC, including external speakers) • journal clubs • debates on a prominent topic within SER between experts; • debates on a prominent topic within SER between students; • ask-the-expert sessions • Peer to peer learning via presentations and reviews of the material presented. • Creative workshops on areas that are of interest • Presentation of final report to audience of (non-)academics Some of these sessions can be combined or followed through Panopto (an online recording software) or arranged via skype. After the sessions in Semester 1, students must write a short reflection on how the session contributed to their understanding of (a) key topics within SER (e.g. different views on resilience), (b) their case study, and (c) interdisciplinary research (formative). Notes under a&b serve as logbook for the further activities that the students engage in, especially the formative debates, whilst (c) provides input for the 300 word formative blog/tweets. Students will investigate SER topics for a contemporary case in interdisciplinary (and where possible cross-institutional) teams. The research activities should include investigations of the literatures, press and other associated media. The rational for the media (social media, mainstream and alternative media) must be clear. The final report will be formatively assessed through peer review, and the final/summative assessment will be based on an individual contribution to a group report (2000 words) and a group presentation.

Independent Study130
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

General. Key reading material will be determined on an annual basis, matching the offer of existing courses and the development of key topics in SER research and policy.





MethodPercentage contribution
Case study report 70%
Group presentation 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Case study report 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:

Accommodation and Travel

Students are expected to visit all three Universities (both for the teaching hours and their group work) and possibly external seminars, which will involve travel costs (within UK).

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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