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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Environmental Courses

Undergraduate Course: Sustainability, Society and Environment (ENVI08001)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe following topics will be developed to enable students to devise their own set of principles for understanding sustainability issues which should be of value in decision-making in their future careers.

- This course will first explore the rise of the environmental agenda in the 1960s and in particular the main events which brought it to public and scientific attention. In this context the natural processes which support life on earth will be discussed, together with the requirements for human well-being.
- The concepts of 'sustainability' and 'sustainable development' etc will be discussed in the context of the history of the concepts as well as the terms themselves and their contemporary significance.
- The commonly cited principles of sustainability (e.g. inter-generational equity, precautionary principle etc) will be explored together with the limitations imposed by physical and natural laws.
- The possible responses (scientific, technological, economic, political, social and personal) will be reviewed and their potential to bring about desired change will be discussed.
- Through examination of international, national, and local agreements on sustainability, students will critically review the motivations for, and implementation of, such policies.
- Approaches to dealing with particular issues encountered in professional life (such as environmental reports, environmental management systems, energy management, recycling, impact on biodiversity) will be considered.
- Opportunities will be provided for course members to review individual ethics and consider the implications of adopting the principles of sustainability to professional practice.
Course description Week 1, Lecture 1: Introduction and overview
Week 1, Lecture 2: Why Sustainability?
Week 2, Lecture 3: What is sustainability? The principles of sustainable development
Week 2, Lecture 4: Measuring sustainable development
Week 3, Lecture 5: Climate change - causes and evidence
Week 3, Lecture 6: Water - distribution, use and needs
Week 4, Lecture 7: Climate change - impacts, mitigation and adaptation
Week 4, Lecture 8: Ecosystems and habitat - ecosystem change, conservation and restoration
Week 5, Lecture 9: Pollution - air, land, water
Week 5, Lecture 10: Waste and recycling
Week 6, Lecture 11: Energy - fossil fuels
Week 6, Lecture 12: Energy - renewable energy
Week 7, Lecture 13: Guest lecture
Week 7, Lecture 14: Food - from field to table
Week 8, Lecture 15: The role of innovation in sustainability
Week 8, Lecture 16: Liveable cities
Week 9, Lecture 17: Products
Week 9, Lecture 18: Personal and envionmental ethics
Week 10, Lecture 19: Good news for a change
Week 10, Lecture 20: Tools and approaches for sustainability: 1. Eco-efficiency
Week 11, Lecture 21: Tools and approaches for sustainability: 2. Sustainable consumption
Week 11, Lecture 22: Course review and exam preparation

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Guidance for student: Students can taker a maximum of 40 credits Level 7 language courses in 1st AND 2nd year (combined)
Additional Costs None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  102
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written exam: 70%, coursework 30%

Three tutorial submissions (1 formative, 2 assessed)

1 x 2hr degree exam - made up of a mixture of MC questions (40%) and three essays from separate sections (20% each)
Feedback Feedback will be provided for each of the three assignments that are undertaken in preparation for the tutorials. Feedback on the exam will be provided upon request at the designated meeting in Semester One, 2016.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge and understanding of key environemntal challenges at the global and national scales.
  2. Understand the meanings of the term 'sustainable development' and comprehend why it is difficult to implement in practice.
  3. Appreciate the key aspects of a range of environmental and sustainability challenges.
  4. Examine how sustainability impacts upon their own life and how it might relate to their future life and career.
Reading List
Core Text:
Robertson, M. (2015) Sustainability Principles and Practice, Routledge, Oxon.

Additional Useful Resouces:
Berners-Lee, M. (2010), How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything, Profile Books, London.
MacKay, D. (2009), Sustainable Energy ? Without the Hot Air, UIT Press, Cambridge. Available to download for free at:
Diamond, J., (2006). Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive Penguin Books.
Middleton, N., (2008). The Global Casino: An introduction to Environmental Issues. (4th edition). Hodder Education. (the 3rd edition is also useful)
Mulligan, M. (2015), An Introduction to Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Personal Perspectives, Routledge.
Reay D, (2005). Climate Change begins at Home: Life in the two-way street of global warming. London: Macmillan.

These give a good overview of the key issues in the course and provide supplementary material to the content delivered in lectures. Additional references specific to particular topics may also be provided by the individual lecturers.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Lectures: 2 hours per week

Tutorials: 1 hour per week for 3 week(s). Tutorials times to be arranged.
KeywordsENVI08001 SSE
Course organiserDr Ondrej Masek
Tel: (0131 6)50 5095
Course secretaryMiss Eilein Fraser
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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