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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG3440 Environment, Conflict and Policy

20 creditsClass Size: 75

Module manager: Prof Jon Lovett

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

Students taking GEOG3440 are recommended to take the five courses of the Environmental Challenges Program on FutureLearn. Students who have taken GEOG2660/2661 will have already completed these courses


GEOG2060Living within limits: natural resource management for sustai
GEOG2062Sustainability: Living Within Limits
GEOG2661Social Ecological Systems

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module examines environmental problems and management issues associated with key global challenges and including energy, landscape management and wilderness and global ecosystems. The focus is on the science-policy interface associated with human/environment interactions. It covers environmental impacts, current and proposed management strategies, sustainable development and national and international policy implications. A range of skills in applying instruments such as environmental assessments, policy briefs, conflict transformation and spatial analysis. Semester 1 of the module includes a two week online course about bioenergy on the FutureLearn platform. By completing all aspects of each two-week course, you will have achieved 14 hours of ‘Continuous Professional Development’ (CPD) time. A certificate can be downloaded from the FutureLearn platform for each course.


The module objectives are to:

• Gain an understanding of the broad theoretical and practical issues pertaining to sustainability in key global challenges in a range of sectors including energy, management of landscapes and global ecosystems.

• Critically analyse global, regional and national contexts, policy development (with an emphasis on international examples, Europe and the UK).

• Appreciate the complexity of science-policy interface and understand why conflicts arise at this interface.

• Develop skills that enable engagement at the science-policy interface such as strategic environmental assessments, conflict transformation, policy briefs, negotiation and spatial analysis.

Learning outcomes
Students will gain a knowledge and understanding of:

Classic examples of conflict associated with the environment as illustrated by both early legal cases and decisions on national and international environmental conflicts. These classic examples underpin contemporary policy on environmental conflicts.

An understanding of the basic underlying principles used to relate science to policy in cases of environmental conflicts. These principles will include (as examples): fundamental principles of justice, precautionary principle, common heritage, differentiated responsibilities, entitlements and property rights.

The mechanisms and processes of how to apply the basic principles to topical examples of environmental conflict in open discussion by taking contemporary environmental conflicts and analysing them from a range of stakeholder perspectives.

An understanding of negotiation skills with practical application of those skills in debates on environmental conflict.

Skills outcomes
- Learning how science is positioned in policy and how scientific information is used when there is conflict
- Developing the ability to understand and navigate several sides of environmental disputes
- Learning basic skills that can be applied at the science-policy interface for decision-making and conflict transformation


The module consists of lectures and seminars. The lectures will cover basic principles and their application to classic examples. The student-led seminars will examine case studies from the perspective of different stakeholder groups, taking the form of a debate between a range of viewpoints. Each seminar will be associated with a lecture and discussion summarising the key points. In Semester 1 the energy case study will use a massive open online course on renewable energy developed by the module leader.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours170.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

1. Core reading for lectures will consist of reading academic papers and background to case studies associated with each lecture (2 hours/ lecture = 40).
2. In Semester 1 students the renewable energy case study will be supported by a two week massive open online course prepared by JL (30 hours online study and formative exercises within the MOOC).
2. Seminar preparation will consist of reading background material consisting of news reports, advocacy websites, and other material relevant to the topic on a case-by-case basis (6 hours/ seminar = 60).
3. 2000 word policy instrument e.g. SEA ToR, policy brief etc (20 hours)
4. 2000 word research project essay (20 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored both formally and informally by the following assessments and processes:

1. A 2000 words policy instrument set at the beginning of Semester 1 to be submitted at before the beginning of Semester 2 (50%).
2. A 2000 words research project report set early in Semester 2 to be handed in after Easter (50%)

1. Formative self-assessment through engagement in the exercises in the MOOC on renewable energy.
2. Engagement in the discussions and Q&A forum in the MOOC.
3. Performance during the seminars will enable teaching staff to interact individually with students who are not engaging or do not appear to understand the material.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportA 2000 words research project report50.00
Report A 2000 words policy instrument50.00
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: 28/04/2023 14:56:06


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