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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5281M Introduction to Sustainability

15 creditsClass Size: 185

Module manager: Prof James Ford

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

The purpose of this module is for students to obtain a well-grounded understanding of theories that explore the interaction between environment, society and the economy, especially as they relate to the concept of sustainable development. The objectives are: 1. To establish the historical context of sustainable development and discuss key ideas, people, institutions, and events. 2. To establish the epistemological/intellectual origins of the concept of sustainability. 3. Establish and evaluate frameworks for understanding sustainable development. 4. Understand basic factors relating to governance that shape the prospects for sustainability, such as property regimes and market forces.


At the end of this module you should:

1. Be familiar with the historical and intellectual context of sustainable development
2. Be able to define sustainable development and apply it to a range of real-life issues
3. Be aware of and be able to engage critically with key ways of framing and measuring sustainability
4. Be critical of both environmental and anti-environmental rhetoric and concepts
5. Improve your written communication skills
6. Be more confident making and justifying arguments
7. Articulate links between society and the environment and use theory to help explain these links.


The syllabus is divided into three parts: i) Defining sustainability, which discusses the history of ideas of sustainability, and different ways of understanding it, ii) conceptualising sustainability, which explores different ways of planning for sustainability and measuring it, and iii) doing sustainability, which is about different tools or concepts which are useful when attempting to create sustainable societies.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours137.00
Total Contact hours13.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

- 7 hours reading per lecture/seminar (63 hours)
- Formative assignment (18 hours)
- Essay (56 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Guidance on assignments and academic skills provided during seminars starting in week 1.
Feedback provided on formative assignment in week 6, with supporting seminar.

- Coursework assignment (essay) will be marked by academic staff and summative feedback provided to students in the form of formal feedback sheets.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
EssayFormative 1,000 word essay0.00
Essay2,000 word essay100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The re-sit will be through a single piece of written work.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 04/10/2021


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