Search our site
Search our site

Understanding the Environment

  • Module code: GG4030
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 4
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This is a Level 4 module for Environment Science students. The module will investigate basic environmental principles, introduce environmental systems and identify and understand how physical and human processes can promote change in environmental systems at a range of spatial and temporal scales. Students will investigate the impacts of environmental change, understand their significance and show how this knowledge can be applied to the management of environmental challenges. The importance of a holistic approach to problem solving in the environmental sciences will be introduced along with material on key underpinning scientific disciplines including environmental chemistry and ecology through the investigation of global habitats. Environmental sustainability will be examined and debated within a broader sustainable development setting and students will define and debate anticipated 21st Century environmental challenges and the application of Environmental Science to these challenges. A range of employability skills will be emphasised throught the module curriculum and students will be challenged to consider and articulate how their environmental knowledge and skills learning development can be applied to real world environmental problems.

Aims

  • To introduce and debate the environment, environmental sustainability and anticipated 21st Century environmental challenges.
  • To describe and explain the basic structure and processes that operate within environmental systems and develop ecological concepts of habitat and ecoregion of selected Earth Environments.
  • Develop key skills to monitor and investigate the environment through the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of environmental data.
  • To introduce concepts of environmental pollution and pollution pathways.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Explain the likely significance of identified 21st Century environmental challenges and the employability skills students will learn to identify and develop in this module.
  • Explain the principles governing the operation of environmental systems
  • Describe the unifying themes and models for understanding the Earth environments
  • Show how knowledge of the operation of environmental systems can be used for their sustainable management
  • Accurately observe environmental phenomena in the laboratory and field

Curriculum content

  • Defining our environment: unifying themes and models for understanding the earth and its environment, including ecosystems, environmental cycles and environmental services.
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability and human-environment interactions, environmentalism, climate change, deep ecology, population-resources links. 
  • Implications of industrialisation, trade and globalisation; social and environmental responsibility. Sustainable development, definitions, measurements and issues; development for a sustainable future.
  • Establishing the foundations of environmental chemistry; the periodic table, reactions and their significance in the environment; basic organic chemistry; radioactivity; environmental pollution and pollution pathways.
  • Biosphere:  ecosystem structure and the transfer of energy and matter, factors limiting distributions, change in ecological systems.
  • The characteristics of selected earth environments, eg. polar, temperate, tropical, arid, marine and urban
  • Introducing conservation and environmental management.
  • Develop an appreciation of the employability value of environmental knowledge and skills in the 21st Century.

Teaching and learning strategy

Lectures will introduce and facilitate understanding of the basic principles of the subjects covered in the curriculum and will be supported through interactive seminars/workshops and blended directed reading. Practicals and fieldwork will develop these topics and illustrate the principles of monitoring and managing select environmental systems. They will require students to make accurate observations and evaluate the data collected and will also promote teamwork. The formative and summative assessments will practice and develop a portfolio of skills including practical exercises (eg. to determine environmental pollutants) and communicating environmental science through presentation and written reports. Canvas VLE discussion boards will be used to disseminate contemporary 'in the news' environmental-related issues and form a platform for wider debate to tie-in with the systematic elements of the learning pathway. Students will be encouraged to interact with the discussions and key threads will be picked up and developed as appropriate within the in-class sessions. Tutors will highlight the employability skills that will be developed through the summative and formative assessments. Canvas VLE will be used to support all aspects of learning and teaching, providing a platform for articulating the module syllabus, assessment and feedback, archiving module-related resources (e.g. specific reading materials) and a digital discussion platform.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lecture 26
Scheduled learning and teaching Seminar/Workshop 26
Scheduled learning and teaching Practical 10
Scheduled learning and teaching Fieldwork 16
Guided independent study 222
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Summative assessments consist of:

(A) Sustainability Report based on reflections of a field-based study (30%, 1500 words plus graphics).

(B) Laboratory-based practical report to identify environmental pollutants (30%, 1500 words plus graphics).

(C) End of module written examination (40%, 2 hours).

Formative assessment includes:

(D) Environmental debate.

(E) Examination preparation supported with quizzes and digi-polls.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
(1) Explain the likely significance of identified 21st Century environmental challenges and the employability skills students will learn to identify and develop in this module (A) Sustainability report and (C) end of module written examination supported by (D) Environmental debate
(2) Explain the principles governing the operation of environmental systems (A) Sustainability report and (C) end of module written examination
(3) Describe the unifying themes and models for understanding Earth environments (C) End of module written examination supported by (E) Examination preparation supported with quizzes and MCQ tests
(4) Show how knowledge of the operation of environmental systems can be used for their sustainable management (C) End of module written examination supported by (E) Examination preparation supported with quizzes and MCQ tests
(5) Accurately observe environmental phenomena in the laboratory and field (B) Laboratory-based practical report

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Sustainability Report Coursework 30
Lab-based practical report Coursework 30
End of module examination Written Examination 40
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major element of assessment is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography core texts

Park C (2001) The Environment: Principles and Applications.2nd Edition. Routledge: London.

Bibliography recommended reading

Baird C and Cann M (2008) Environmental Chemistry. 4th Edition. Freeman: New York.

Baker,S (2014) Sustainable Development (2nd edition). Routledge, London

Barry RG and Chorley RJ (2009) Atmosphere, Weather and Climate. 9th Edition. 

Routledge: London.

Boroughs WJ (2007) Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach (2nd edition), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Enger  ED and Smith BF (2015) Environmental Science: a Study of Interraltionships (14th edition). McGraw-Hill Education, New York

Holden J (2012) An introduction to Physical Geography and the Environment. 3rd Edition, Pearson: Harlow.

Middleton M (2013) The Global Casino: an Introduction to Environmental Issues (5th Edition). Routledge, London.

O'Hare G, Sweeney J and Wilby R (2005) Weather, Climate and Climate Change. Pearson, Prentice Hall: Harlow.

Find a course

Course finder

>
Undergraduate study
Site menu