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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Geosciences

Postgraduate Course: Energy & Society II; Methods and Applications (GESC11009)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis is a core course for the MSc in Energy, Society and Sustainability, and is intended to provide a methodological foundation for the dissertation.

To provide a suite of methods, in the form of both practical and conceptual toolkits, that will enable students to construct and analyse a fieldsite that informs and develops Energy, Society, and Sustainability issues. Students will collaborate together, and with a local low-carbon community, to create projects that enact these methods.

The course is a collaboration with communities and organisations in the Orkney islands, who have their own different energy and sustainability concerns. It will immediately immerse students in real world problems and questions, providing support for experimentation and exploration of practical methods.
The course is based on a social and technical approach to understanding energy and sustainability as both relational and infrastructural. How can energy infrastructures, such as the electricity grid, be understood as social, technical, and environmental, and how does that create particular questions and insights? How are low-carbon worlds being made, for whom, and in what places, drawing on which relations and invisible labours? How can methods be made to both understand and intervene in these energy infrastructures and sustainability issues? Drawing on case studies and methods from Geography to Science & Technology Studies to Anthropology, with a foundation provided by the first semester, this course will be structured around the development of a collaborative project, which will then be enacted in Orkney during the fieldtrip.
Orkney, an archipelago off the northeast coast of mainland Scotland, generates over 140% of its own renewable energy. This comes from local-owned wind turbines, including over seven hundred micro wind turbines, as well as wave and tide energy (they are the site of the European Marine Energy Centre). The islands have had a smart grid for a decade, and are also generating hydrogen fuel. They call themselves a ¿living laboratory¿ for energy futures, yet they also have severe problems with fuel poverty and an electricity grid which is at capacity and frequently shuts down community-owned wind turbines. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate with a number of local organisations and communities in the islands, to address their very real issues and concerns, particularly around the digitisation of energy.
Course description The course comprises two parts:

Part 1 Toolkit
Drawing on interdisciplinary resources, and a series of exemplar case studies, students will develop a methodological toolkit. For example: how to construct a fieldsite and follow an energy ¿object¿ for research; the role and effects of quantitative, digital data in energy networks (e.g. smart meters, and pigeons as environmental sensors); mixed media fieldsite recording and engagement (e.g. serious gaming and participatory design); writing as research (e.g. different writing methods for community and policy engagement).

Part 2 Fieldtrip
With the project developed in Part 1, students will travel to Orkney, to enact their projects in collaboration with energy communities there, gather data, and gain direct feedback from those they are working with.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is only available to students studying the MSc in Energy, Society and Sustainability
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 12, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 8, Dissertation/Project Supervision Hours 8, Fieldwork Hours 16, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 152 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Gain a shared epistemological basis for the masters programme, appreciative of the important contributions that different disciplines and methods can provide.
  2. An understanding of the driving forces of unsustainable consumption and the resulting negative externalities.
  3. Experience in the use of digital technologies to monitor, assess and critically evaluate levels of personal and household consumption.
  4. Experience in the use of digital technologies to monitor, assess and critically evaluate environmental exposure during everyday activities.
  5. Experience with citizen science, self-directed fieldwork and public engagement in relation to 2 & 3.
Reading List
This list is only indicative, and will be updated for the course to reflect the latest research:

Marcus, George. E. (1995) Ethnography in/of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24, 95¿117.

Ingold, Tim. (2013) ¿Designing Environments for Life.¿ Anthropology and Nature. London, Routledge.

Kitchin, Rob., 2013. Big data and human geography: Opportunities, challenges and risks. Dialogues in human geography, 3(3), pp.262-267.

Lewis, Jerome (2014) ¿Making the Invisible Visible: Designing Technology for Nonliterate Hunter-Gatherers.¿ Subversion, Conversion, Development: Cross-Cultural Knowledge Exchange and the Politics of Design. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Anders Blok, Urban Green Assemblages: An ANT View on Sustainable City Building Projects. Science & Technology Studies 26, (2013).

Juris, Jeffrey S. (2008) Networking Futures: The Movements against Corporate Globalization. Duke University Press.

Forsythe, Diana E. (1999) ¿¿It¿s Just a Matter of Common Sense¿: Ethnography as Invisible Work.¿ Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 8, no. 1¿2.

Ingold, Tim, and Jo Lee (2006) ¿Fieldwork on Foot: Perceiving, Routing, Socializing.¿ Locating the Field: Space, Place and Context in Anthropology. Berg. 67¿85.

Cass, Noel, and Gordon Walker (2009) ¿Emotion and Rationality: The Characterisation and Evaluation of Opposition to Renewable Energy Projects.¿ Emotion, Space and Society 2.1: 62¿69.

Wood, G., van der Horst D. et al. (2014). Serious games for energy social science research. Technology Assessment and Strategic Management 26(10), 1212-1227.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsMethods,Living labs,Sustainable consumption,co-production of knowledge,Collaborative monitoring
Course organiserDr Laura Watts
Tel: (0131 6)51 4469
Course secretaryMs Heather Dyson
Tel: (0131 6)51 7126
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