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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG2155 Towards a Zero Carbon Future

20 creditsClass Size: 180

Module manager: Radhika Borde
Email: .

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module provides students with residential fieldtrip at the Centre for Alternative Technology to enable them to learn about the challenges and opportunities of moving towards a zero carbon future. CAT is an educational charity dedicated to researching and communicating positive solutions for environmental change. Founded in 1973 on a disused slate quarry in Mid Wales, CAT began life as an off-grid community that acted as a test-bed for experimenting with alternative types of technology in response to the 1970s oil crisis and a growing concern about the environmental impact of fossil fuels. CAT has a long history of research and innovation: from early experiments with wind power that helped with the development of modern wind turbines, to the creation of prototypes of solar-powered vaccine fridges that are now saving lives across the world, new ways of producing compost and treating waste, innovative low-carbon building materials and methods, and various types of renewable heat (some more successful than others!). Since 2007, CAT has been developing a model for how the UK could reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions using technology available today. During the four day fieldtrip, CAT tutors will provide students with an overview of this model through a hands on engagement with the technologies available and how they work across the built environment, transport systems, agriculture, production, and energy.


Through a residential fieldtrip to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), the key aims of this module are to provide students with:

• an introduction to the major challenges facing Britain of drastically and rapidly reducing carbon emissions to address the climate emergency;
• an understanding of the complex interconnections between decarbonisation, fossil fuels, energy security, and global equity;
• a critical exploration of how Britain can achieve the government’s target of 80% less carbon emissions by 2050 through learning more about available technologies and skills via field experience;
• an opportunity to reflect with expert practitioners on what Britain will be like in a zero carbon future and how this can be achieved for different sectors such as ‘the built environment’, ‘transport’, ‘agriculture’, ‘land use’, ‘energy’ and ‘goods’;
• an ability to debate and develop their own vision of a sustainable future;
• opportunities to develop collective working, critical thinking, decision making and communication skills.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module, the student should have acquired:

1. An understanding of the key global environmental, energy, and equity challenges from climate change and a zero carbon future.

2. An appreciation of the technological and policy solutions for reducing Britain’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 and how they are being developed in different sectors of society and economy.

3. An insight into what a zero carbon future means for Britain in terms of industry, residential settlements, and everyday life.

4. An ability to critically explore, debate, reflect and develop their own vision of a sustainable future based on learning about the science, technology and land use implications of climate change and decarbonisation.

Skills outcomes
QAA subject-specific skills

- spatial awareness and observation
- abstraction and synthesis of information
- developing a reasoned argument
- assessing the merits of contrasting theories and explanations
- preparing effective maps, diagrams and visualisations
- primary data generation, collection and recording, and the use of secondary data sets (both quantitative and qualitative)
- critically evaluating, interpreting and combining different types of geographical evidence (for example texts, imagery, archival data, maps, digitised and laboratory data)
- analysis and problem-solving through quantitative and qualitative methods
- planning, designing and executing a piece of rigorous research or enquiry, both independently and in groups, including the production of a final report
- conducting fieldwork and field data collection
- employing a variety of interpretative methods (for example, participant observation, ethnographic interviews, and auto-ethnography)
- employing a variety of social survey methods (for example structured interviews and questionnaires, non-participant observation and transect walks)
- taking responsibility for learning and reflection upon that learning
- recognising the moral, ethical and safety issues involved in all aspects of geographical enquiry

QAA knowledge and understanding
- understand the complex relationships between natural and human aspects of environments and landscapes.
- the concept of spatial variation
- an appreciation of temporal change
- a critical awareness of the significance of spatial and temporal scale
- distinctiveness of place
- knowledge of the main dimensions and scales of economic, social, political and environmental inequality and difference
- knowledge and critical understanding of the diverse manners of representation
- principles of research design
- geographical knowledge and understanding
- field skills


The module syllabus is drawn from the following themes and topics:
• Climate change challenge: carbon emissions, fossil fuels, energy security and global equity
• Decarbonising technologies: ‘the built environment’, ‘transport’, ‘agriculture’, ‘land use’, ‘energy’ and ‘goods’;
• Towards a Zero Carbon Britain: imagining and constructing a zero-carbon future
• CAT tour: history of site and organisation
• Workshops on energy, building, growing and ecology
• Obstacles to zero carbon future and how to overcome them

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group learning32.006.00
Independent online learning hours162.00
Private study hours0.00
Total Contact hours38.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study will take the following forms:
C80 hours for general reading to prepare for and supplement lectures and group work and in preparation for field trips
C82 hours reading to prepare research and conduct the assessment.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will receive formative feedback as follows:
1. During the fieldtrip when they have the opportunity to present their ideas, reflections, analyses and proposals on the feasibility and desirability of getting to a zero carbon future at a CAT workshop. These presentations – non-assessed – and the formative feedback will form the basis of their assessed project.
2. Formative feedback on their assessed project (1 x 2500 words).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportProject report (2,500 words)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 05/05/2022


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