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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability (PGGE11130)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeDissertation AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course will provide an introduction to a range of important environmental and sustainability topics, with a focus on their human dimensions. Human dimensions encompass the societal, political, economic, technological and cultural aspects of managing and responding to contemporary environmental change and sustainability problems. The course is organised around expert lectures on core topics. The topics covered are deliberately broad, including climate, food, energy, water and biodiversity. The topics provide the context for small group discussions and class debate exploring common features of environmental change and sustainability problems; assessing their societal origins and implications, and exploring cross-cutting issues of interdisciplinarity and the science-policy interface.
Course description Topics covered in this course:
4.Global Change
6.The science-policy interface
8.The science-policy interface

Each week the course will introduce and explore a new contemporary topic of environmental change and sustainability. Within each topic the course will cover:
Examples of how human activity is changing the environment;
The impact of those environmental changes on society;
Action taken to mitigate environmental change.

The course is based on a series of lectures given by experts in each environmental change topic, drawn from across the School of Geosciences and the University of Edinburgh, along with selected external experts. The Course Organiser (Dr Lovell) will introduce each topic and consider its unique features, along with the particular societal, political, economic, technological and cultural challenges it brings. Different ways of conceptualising the human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability will be explored.

Students will gain insights and knowledge from the lectures, reviewing literature (academic and policy), working together in small groups, writing a policy brief, and communicating their findings to others through developing and presenting a poster.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 21/09/2015
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 152 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 50% Coursework (25% individual policy brief, 25% group poster); 50% Exam

Posters - Group task [assessed 25% of final mark].
Students will work in small groups to prepare a poster presentation. Each group will develop and present a case study on a sustainability topic. Students will be expected to draw on knowledge and insight from: course lectures and discussions; suggested readings; and additional resources they have identified from their own research. Each group will develop their case study throughout the semester, including in class discussions, culminating in poster presentations by the group during Week 10 of the course (19th November 2014). Further instructions will be provided separately.

Policy Briefs - Individual task [assessed 25% of final mark].
Preparation of a short policy brief on a sustainability topic, to be submitted Monday 3rd November 2014. Further instructions will be provided separately.

Final written examination [50% of final mark]

Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand of the diverse arguments about sustainability and gain ways to theorise them
  2. gain insights into a range of contemporary environmental change and sustainability topics
  3. summarise, evaluate and gain a deeper understanding of particular environmental change and sustainability topics and debates
  4. have knowledge about the societal, political, economic, technological and cultural aspects of managing and responding to contemporary environmental change and sustainability problems
  5. develop skills in group work, poster presentations, writing policy briefs and reviewing academic and policy documents
Reading List
Dryzek, J. S. & D. Schlosberg. (1998). Debating the Earth: the environmental politics reader. Oxford University Press.
Hajer, M. A. (1995). The politics of environmental discourse: ecological modernisation and the policy process. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Leach, M., J. Rokstrom, P. Raskin, I. C. Scoones, A. C. Stirling, A. Smith, J. Thompson, E. Millstone, A. Ely & E. Arond (2012). Transforming innovation for sustainability. Ecology and Society, 17 (2), 11.

Middleton, N. (2003). The Global Casino: An Introduction to Environmental Issues. 3rd Edition, London: Hodder Arnold.

Proctor, J.D. (1998) The meaning of global environmental change: retheorizing culture in human dimensions research. Global Environmental Change, 8(3), 227-248.

Rockström, J., W. Steffen, K. Noone, Å. Persson, F. S. Chapin, E. F. Lambin, T. M. Lenton, M. Scheffer, C. Folke & H. J. Schellnhuber (2009). A safe operating space for humanity. Nature, 461 (7263), 472-475.

Stern, P.C., Young, O. R. & Druckman,D. (eds) (1992) Global Environmental Change: Understanding the Human Dimensions. The National Academies Press, US.

Urry, J. (2011). Climate Change and Society. London: Polity Press.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements This course is often over-subscribed. Please notify the course secretary ( during induction week if you wish to take this course.
KeywordsPGGE11130 Environment,sustainability,science-policy interface,interdisciplinarity
Course organiserDr Calum Macleod
Tel: (0131 6)51 4447
Course secretaryMrs Karolina Galera
Tel: (0131 6)50 2572
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