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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE3785 Change for Sustainable Development

20 creditsClass Size: 120

Module manager: Jonathan Busch

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

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

SOEE3202 Sustainable ConsumptionSOEE3270 Business and Sustainable DevelopmentSOEE3780 Sustainable Development in Practice

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will explore theories, strategies and tools for change that could be used to push economies and societies onto sustainable development pathways. Students will work through a ‘project cycle’ process widely used in Sustainable Development projects and policy development, applied to research-based case studies from a range of global socio-environmental settings. Guided by lectures, workshops and participatory group work, students will: 1) discuss and propose solutions - visions for an ideal world, 2) consider specific strategies to help move from these problems to the solutions and 3) decide ways of measuring progress towards these goals.Alongside their case study projects, students will learn about change processes from two perspectives: 1. Social Change – how people’s actions are shaped by social structures such as identity, social relations, physical and social infrastructure and big politics, and how these might play a part in a more sustainable future, and2. Organisational level tools for change – how business strategies, industry initiatives and innovation can contribute to sustainable development.This module requires students to engage intellectually with social theory, develop a deep understanding of business tools for change, and apply both to a real-world sustainable development problem. The module is assessed with a group presentation (worth 30% of the module mark) that presents 1) a critical evaluation of the development problem the group has been assigned to, 2) a critical reflection on the methodological process the group went through to devise a holistic vision and strategies, 3) the vision and strategies that will contribute to solving (some of) the problems within the case study. After receiving feedback on the group process, students will then write an individual report (worth 70% of the module mark) on the change strategies proposed to reach the vision and how strategies will be monitored to evaluate progress. This is where students will be expected to provide a conceptual basis for their plan (justifying the approach taken on the basis of theory and examples of practice), critically reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of their approach, and consider the trade-offs that might emerge on its implementation.


The aim of this module is to give students a deeper understanding of change processes for sustainable development, and practice in the use of participative methods in change governances. On completion of the module, students will:
• have gained an understanding of theories of social change, and the key debates and concerns in the study of sustainable behaviours;
• have gained an understanding of how social structures (identity, social relations, physical and social infrastructure, big politics) shape how people act in relation to the environment;
• understand why addressing environmental and social issues are important to move business towards sustainable development;
• understand the strengths and limitations of the current wave of strategies and tools that can be subsumed under the umbrella terms of corporate social responsibility/corporate sustainability;
• have developed a deep understanding through practice of the complexities inherent in achieving sustainable development;
• have developed a working understanding of one type of deliberative process for sustainable development decision making;
• demonstrated an understanding of the implications of academic knowledge for policy and practice on sustainable development in social and business spheres.

Learning outcomes
The module places considerable emphasis on:
• recognising and using subject-specific theories, paradigms, concepts and principles;
• applying knowledge and understanding to address familiar and unfamiliar problems;
• understanding the balance between generalised theory and site-specific congext;
• planning, conducting and reporting on investigations, including the use of secondary data;
• receiving and responding to a variety of information sources (eg textual numerical, verbal, graphical);
• communicating appropriately to a variety of audiences in written, verbal and graphical form;
• group work, team building and conflict resolution, including group goal setting, task allocation, decision making.

The module places moderate emphasis on:
• analysing, synthesising and summarising information critically, including prior research;
• referencing work in an appropriate manner;
• using the Internet critically as a means of communication and a source of information.

The module places some emphasis on:
• collecting and integrating several lines of evidence to formulate and test hypotheses;
• developing the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (e.g. working independently, time management and organisation skills);
• developing an adaptable and flexible approach to study and work.


The teaching on this module is delivered in three inter-connected parts:
(1) Social Change for Sustainable Development
Topics will include:
• Introducing a socially systemic approach to sustainable development, taking account of how social structures shape people’s actions.
• How physical and social infrastructure shapes our actions and what we can do about it.
• How identity shapes our actions and what we can do about it.
• How big politics shapes our actions and what we can do about it.
• How friends and family shape our actions and what we can do about it.
• How local institutions shape our actions and what we can do about it
(2) Organisational-level tools for change
Topics will include:
• Leadership for Sustainable Development.
• Consumer behaviour interventions – how can business influence consumers to be more sustainable?
• Standards and Certification – can they improve the sustainability of businesses and their supply chains?
• Digital Technologies – can innovation in digital technologies make businesses more sustainable?
(3) Participatory Methods & Governance
Topics will include:
• Team Work and Team Roles
• Forming Visions and Strategies
• Stakeholder participation and participatory processes
• Project implementation, monitoring progress and monitoring impact

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours7.00
Private study hours166.00
Total Contact hours27.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Reading/Assignment Preparation – 166 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Regular seminars and workshops throughout the module will provide students with feedback on their understanding of topics covered in lectures and online materials. There will also be Q&A workshops scheduled ahead of assignment deadlines for students to get feedback on their project plans.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Presentation15 minute group presentation on case study plan30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

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

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

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

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 31/05/2023 13:09:04


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