Science and the Environment

Module summary

Module code: ENVI1040
Level: 4
Credits: 30
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Peter Burt



• to help students reflect on the unsustainable nature of present trends, by drawing on previous and current environmental change issues;
• to provide students with a basic science-centred knowledge of the environment;
• to provide students with a clear understanding of the physical and chemical concepts applied to environmental systems, and their use in environmental issues;
• to explore the relationship between population growth and resource depletion, pollution and waste;
• to enable students to understand the science behind human and non-human environmental impacts;
• to develop within students a critical understanding of general environmental theories and models, and how such theories can be used to predict the effects of human activities.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this Module a student will be able to:
1. be able to recognise basic physical, chemical and ecological principles underpinning the study of the environment;
2. be aware of the inter-relationships between resource use and environmental, social, economic and political processes;
3. have a clear understanding of basic environmental theories and models, their constraints, and how they can be used to predict the effects of human activities;
4. have begun to develop critical reasoning skills and be able to apply them in a scientific manner to environmental issues;
5. be able to apply their knowledge to explain and interpret the environment around them (including in novel situations).

Indicative content

Science and the study of the environment; our evolving understanding of the environment and its relationship with organisms; Mendel, genetics and the genetic code; matter (atoms, molecules, chemical reactions), organic and inorganic molecules, energy and force, Newton's laws of thermodynamics; pollution; basic ecology, population ecology and demographics, community ecology and species relationships, ecosystems and environmental dynamics; Gaia and global ecology; consequences of environmental change (extinction events).

Teaching and learning activity

Lectures; student led discussions; field visits to illustrate elements of Module material.


Exam: 20% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2 & 3.
Outline Details: 1 hour.

Essay: 40% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 3, 4 & 5.
Word Length: 1500 Words.

Seminar: 40% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 3, 4 & 5.
Outline Details: May be in groups or individually, depending on number of students in class.

Formative Assessment: In-class discussions, assisted practicals, and tutorials based on Module material and presentational skills.