Sustainable Futures

Module summary

Module code: ENVI1151
Level: 5
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Hilary Claire Coote



To provide a conceptual and practical exploration of broad principles and challenges of sustainable development and allow students to explore multidisciplinary aspects from a geographical or environmental science perspective.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

1. Outline the origins, concepts, stakeholders and challenges of sustainable development and potential solutions for a sustainable future.
2. Identify appropriate tools, techniques and methodologies for examining aspects of sustainable development and supporting behaviour change required for a sustainable future.
3. Synthesise arguments on ways to address current and future sustainability of the environment.
4. Effectively assimilate and communicate current research, issues and trade-offs affecting sustainable development and sustainable futures though writing and presentation.

Indicative content

Introduction to sustainable futures – origins, challenges, trade-offs; Mapping the territory of sustainable development; Addressing controversy and sustainability; The carbon cycle and impact on sustainability; Environmental pollution and abatement; Renewable energy; Ecological footprinting; Climate change, sustainability and adaptation; Sustainability and urbanisation; Business, production and sustainability; Skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviour change for sustainable development; Role play seminar: consideration of a contentious sustainable issue from different stakeholder perspectives.

Teaching and learning activity

The module consists of 12 three-hour sessions in which students are introduced to, and consider aspects of, sustainable development and requirements for a future sustainable world. Use is made of PowerPoint presentations, videos, readings, group discussions and exercises and exposure to relevant tools and methodologies. A field visit is included. An assessed role play gives students the opportunity to consider the challenges of a contentious issue from a particular stakeholder viewpoint and defend their interests. Common themes and inter-related topics will be explored across lectures so that the learning outcomes are addressed through synthesis of information from multiple perspectives.


Essay: 50% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2 & 4.
Word Length 2,000 words.
Outline Details: Essay that explores an aspect of sustainable development/futures.

Presentation: 50% weighting, 40% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3 & 4.
Outline Details: 20 minute role play of contentious sustainability issue. May be in groups or individually, depending on number of students.

Formative Assessment: Verbal 5-minute overview of planned summative essay, with one supporting slide giving bullet points and 1 to 2 key references in Harvard format.