Postgraduate Course: Energy & Society II; Methods and Applications (GESC11009)
|School||School of Geosciences
||College||College of Science and Engineering
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This 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, both practical and conceptual, that will enable students to construct and analyse a real world fieldsite which develops Energy, Society, and Sustainability issues. Students will collaborate together, and with a low-carbon community, to create projects that enact these methods in practice.
The course is a collaboration with local communities and organisations in the Orkney islands, who have their 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, in a living context.
The course is based on a social and technical approach to understanding energy and sustainability as both relations and infrastructures. 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 120% of its electricity from 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. 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.
The course comprises two parts:
Part 1 Methods
Drawing on interdisciplinary resources, and a series of exemplar case studies, students will develop a methodological toolkit. For example: how to construct a field site and follow energy as an object for research; the role and effects of different qualitative data; mixed media fieldsite recording and engagement (including online ethnography); 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 (subject to Covid restrictions), 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)
||Other requirements|| This course is only available to students studying the MSc in Energy, Society and Sustainability
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 22,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Six initial workshops will establish and explore the methods toolkit. As part of these, students will prepare group projects and initiate contact with the island community through poster submission (formative assessment). During the Orkney fieldwork experience students will enact these projects in collaboration with the local community to support the development of future energy scenarios. Students will individually write their own fieldtrip report, which analyses the data gathered and forms a conclusion (assessed coursework).
||Ongoing sustained feedback is provided on project work during interactive workshops, and throughout the fieldwork.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Gain a shared methodological basis for the master┐s programme, appreciative of the important contributions that different disciplines and methods can provide
- An understanding of renewable energy as a social, technical and environmental infrastructure in the landscape
- Experience in enacting a variety of qualitative methods including interviews and participant observation
- Frame a research problem, gather and analyse qualitative data, and draw a cogent conclusion to that problem
- Conduct effective communication and collaboration with a local community, using self-directed fieldwork, along with public and citizen science engagement
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|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Keywords||Methods,Living labs,Sustainable consumption,co-production of knowledge,Collaborative monitoring
|Course organiser||Dr Laura Watts
Tel: (0131 6)51 4469
|Course secretary||Ms Kathryn Will
Tel: (0131 6)50 2624