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The University of Southampton

UOSM2010 Global Challenges

Module Overview

This module will introduce you to the global sustainability challenges of population change, food & energy security, biodiversity loss, global governance and climate change. The underlying academic framework to these challenges will be a systems-level approach that emphasises how the individual challenges can be understood as a set of interacting complex systems. Having successfully completed the module, you will be able to: * Synthesize material from a wide range of sources in order to produce a comprehensive understanding of a multi-faceted issue. * Apply systems thinking to real-world issues. * Effectively communicate a complex topic in a way that is understandable to a wide audience. Lectures are recorded and made available via Panopto. Most seminar activities are undertaken within groups, so you must be willing and able to contribute to group activities in order to get the most out of the module.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The module aims at developing global citizenship, global perspectives, appreciation of interdisciplinary approaches, and a recognition of the place of University research and education in the contemporary world. For some students it will prime an interest in pursuing interdisciplinary research. The Global Challenges is a core module for the Sustainability Minor pathway.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the main elements of the Global Challenges including their scope and driving
  • Synthesize material from a wide range of sources in order to produce a comprehensive understanding of a multi-faceted issue
  • Quantify the role of humans as drivers of the Global Challenges.
  • Formulate the Global Challenges as a challenge of systems using systems dynamics theory.
  • Critically evaluate different proposals for addressing the Global Challenges


Week 1 Introduction & Overview Week 2 Systems Thinking Week 3 Population Change Week 4 Food Security Week 5 Energy Security Week 5 Climate Change Week 6 Planetary Boundaries Week 7 Global Governance Week 8 Limits to Growth Week 9 Workshop Week 11 Conclusion

Special Features

This module features Flip Teaching. Flip Teaching is essentially doing homework in the classroom and using independent study time to read and watch material. Flip Teaching will be carried out in seminars where students will work in pairs and groups to answer a series of questions and tasks. Instructors will be on hand to help and guide students

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures (1-2 per week) to introduce material Seminars (1-2 per week) to discuss & explore material introduced in lectures Group working and training to promote effective work within interdisciplinary teams

Independent Study117
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Thinking in Systems: A Primer.


Assessment Strategy

Two assessments will be employed, one group project assessment, one examination. Assessment 1 - Group Project. Groups of 5 students will prepare a recorded "TED talk" of no more than 10 minutes that will effectively communicate a specific Global Challenge. Training and assistance a will be given during teaching. Facilities to record the talk will be provided where required. Assessment 2 - A two hour examination. This will have two parts: Part 1 a series of short answers that assess understanding of core systems thinking and the major elements of the Global Challenges; Part 2 a longer mini essay answer that will assess student's abilities to apply theory and concept to the analysis of the Global Challenges.


MethodPercentage contribution
Audio or Video Recording  (10 minutes) 30%
Closed book Examination  (2 hours) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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