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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Human Health in the Anthropocene (fusion on-site) (EFIE11187)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course will discuss the key effects of human disruptions to Earth's natural systems on human health, also identifying socioeconomic, environmental and geopolitical determinants of health and the structural inequalities that shape health outcomes.

It will introduce concepts such as the effects of inadequate access to nutritious food, over-nutrition, altered disease patterns due to environmental changes and alterations to habitability and population displacement resulting in higher burden of disease and disability. It will cover known and unknown risks and existential threats, including inequalities, societal fracturing, economic fragility and geopolitical polarisation.

You will be invited to explore how global technology, novel partnerships and approaches to preparedness are used to study planetary health risks. You will consider the interaction and amplification of risk factors in order to anticipate future crises, while learning how to prepare adequate threat responses and work toward systemic resilience.
Course description The course will introduce the key concepts in changing human health patterns in the anthropocene such as effects of inadequate nutrition and determinants of health and the structural inequalities that shape health outcomes. Its primary aim is to explore the key effects of human disruptions to Earth's natural systems on human health and apply this knowledge to the design of original and creative responses to public health concerns in local contexts.

The student experience will progress through three phases:

1) Pre-intensive: immersion (online individual and group work).
2) Intensive: integration (two-day intensive workshop).
3) Post-intensive: reading and reflection on materials to prepare a draft plan of actions as a response to a chosen human health crisis, a brief individual pre-recorded presentation and assessment preparation.

The course will make use of a range of digital learning environments, enabling students to build knowledge across discussion forums, livestreamed sessions, debate club and other collaborative networked spaces.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - On-Site Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities.

Students should be aware that:
- Classrooms used in this course will have additional technology in place: students might not be able to sit in areas away from microphones or outside the field of view of all cameras.
- Unless the lecturer or tutor indicates otherwise you should assume the session is being recorded.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 6, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 3, Other Study Hours 7, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 82 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other Study: Scheduled Group-work Hours (hybrid online/on-campus) - 7
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative Assessment:

The course will be assessed by means of the following assessment components:

1) Human Health Crisis Response (100%)

Individual assessment which involves creating a plan of actions/solutions as a response to a chosen human health crisis caused by deteriorating planetary health. Students will be able to choose from a range of formats (e.g., text, video, podcast) to write a 2,500 words max. (15 mins for video or podcast) plan.

This assessment is worth 100% of the overall course mark.
Feedback This course will be characterised by ongoing and timely feedback from staff and peers. This will include the use of discussion spaces alongside the dialogue that takes place during the intensive 2-day workshop.

The thinking process preceding the submission of the summative assessment will be supported by a brief individual blog post and presentation (due in week 9) to the programme staff, other students and two external guests representing policymaking and wider community who will act as 'critical friends' and will provide formative feedback on the evolving plan.

Summative feedback will also be given following the written assessment submission.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate critical awareness and extensive knowledge of key concepts and debates surrounding impacts of deteriorating planetary health on human health.
  2. Apply this awareness and knowledge to evaluation of environmental impacts on human health in local contexts.
  3. Develop an original and creative plan for a response to public health concerns related to environmental changes or degradation in a chosen local context.
  4. Discuss interconnectedness of planetary and human health with a wide range of audiences: academic, policy, community and in ways that spur collaborative action.
  5. Exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in designing context-specific public health responses, which fit into local geopolitical and socioeconomic contexts.
Reading List
Essential Reading:

Bauch, S. C. et al. (2015) Public health impacts of ecosystem change in the Brazilian Amazon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - PNAS. [Online] 112 (24), 7414-7419.

Bircher, J. & Kuruvilla, S. (2014) Defining health by addressing individual, social, and environmental determinants: New opportunities for health care and public health. Journal of public health policy. [Online] 35 (3), 363-386.

Schütte, S. et al. (2018) Connecting planetary health, climate change, and migration. The Lancet. Planetary health. [Online] 2 (2), e58-e59.

Whitmee, S. et al. (2015) Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation- Lancet Commission on planetary health. The Lancet (British edition). [Online] 386 (10007), 1973-2028.

Recommended Reading:

Al-Delaimy, W. K. (2018) Planetary Health and Population Health: the Anthropocene Requires Different Thinking and Approaches in Serving Public Health. Current environmental health reports. [Online] 5 (4), 397-400.

Bayles, B. R. et al. (2016) Ecosystem Services Connect Environmental Change to Human Health Outcomes. EcoHealth. [Online] 13 (3), 443-449.

Torp Austvoll, C. et al. (2020) Health impact of the Anthropocene: The complex relationship between gut microbiota, epigenetics, and human health, using obesity as an example. Global health, epidemiology and genomics. [Online] 5e2-e2.

Further Reading:

Cole, J. (2019) Planetary health: human health in an era of global environmental change / Dr Jennifer Cole. Oxfordshire, UK: CABI.

David, P.-M. et al. (2021) Pandemics in the age of the Anthropocene: Is 'planetary health' the answer? Global public health. [Online] 16 (8-9), 1141-1154.

Hancock, T., Spady, D. W. and Soskolne, C. L. (Editors) (2015) Global change and
Public Health: Addressing the Ecological Determinants of Health: The Report in Brief Available at
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and Understanding - demonstrate and/or work with:
1) Knowledge that covers and integrates most, if not all, of the main areas of the subject/discipline/sector - including their features, boundaries, terminology and conventions.
2) A critical awareness of current issues in a subject/discipline/sector and one or more specialisms.

Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding - apply knowledge, skills and understanding:
1) In using a significant range of the principal professional skills, techniques, practices and/or materials associated with the subject/discipline/sector.
2) In planning and executing a significant project of research, investigation or development.

Generic Cognitive Skills - student will be able to:
1) Apply critical analysis, evaluation and synthesis to forefront issues, or issues that are informed by forefront developments in the subject/discipline/sector.
2) Develop original and creative responses to problems and issues.
3) Critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills, practices and thinking in a subject/discipline/sector.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills - use a wide range of routine skills and a range of advanced and specialised skills as appropriate to a subject/discipline/sector, for example:
1) Communicate, using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise.
2) Communicate with peers, more senior colleagues and specialists.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with Others - students will be able to:
1) Take responsibility for own work and/or significant responsibility for the work of others.
2) Take significant responsibility for a range of resources.
3) Demonstrate leadership and/or initiative and make an identifiable contribution to change and development and/or new thinking.
KeywordsPlanetary Health,Environmental and Public Health,Environmental and Health Studies,EFI,Level 11,PG
Course organiserDr Ewelina Rydzewska
Course secretaryMiss Yasmine Lewis
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