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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Deanery of Biomedical Sciences : Biomedical Sciences

Postgraduate Course: Connecting Environment and Society (BIME11141)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course explores key topics in relation to sustaining healthy ecosystems and human populations. It will examine the interdependency of environment and society and discuss the ecological, social, political and economic complexities of managing current environmental problems.
Course description The central theme of this course is to provide students with an understanding of how the inter-relatedness of environment and society can impact both ecosystem and human health. There is increasing awareness that human health and wellbeing cannot be viewed in isolation from ecological systems, such as in the concept of 'Ecohealth', which takes a transdisciplinary approach to understanding how environmental change impacts human health.

This course will focus on viewing problems holistically, as part of a complex system rather than isolated components. Mechanisms to explore these ecological and societal interdependencies will be discussed, such as systems-thinking. The idea of 'wicked problems' will be introduced, as those issues that lack simplistic solutions due to their interdisciplinary nature and social complexity. In today's society, climate change, poverty, biodiversity loss, habitat restoration, urban planning and wellbeing, have all been described as wicked problems, among many others.

Using a case study approach, students will learn about current issues impacting ecosystem and human health, what makes these problems 'wicked' and the role of interdisciplinary strategies for their sustainable management.

The course relies heavily on reading primary literature as well as key publications from the conservation sector. Both assessed and non-assessed online discussion fora provide further content and reflection and students are expected to engage with group discussions for both learning and assessment purposes.

Course notes are released on a weekly basis and contain links to or references for further reading on the subject of sustainable health. The course requires a time commitment of 12-20 hours of study each week. Students may also source and recommend further reading for the course to their peers by posting relevant links within the VLE.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Flexible
Course Start Date 05/08/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Online Activities 25, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 53 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% Coursework
40% Online Assignment; 60% Written Assignment
Feedback Feedback will be provided by the course tutor throughout the course in the online discussion boards. Students will also receive formative feedback on each assignment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of how ecosystem and human health is a part of a complex, dynamic system.
  2. Critically analyse complex issues affecting environmental and human health and argue that they are 'wicked' problems.
  3. Differentiate and critically appraise the benefits and challenges associated with interdisciplinary approaches for managing these complex problems for a sustainable environment and society.
Learning Resources

Ecology and society:

Environment and society.


Environment and Society (2013) by Robbins, Paul Hintz, John Moore, Sarah A. Moore. John Wiley & Sons.

Wicked environmental problems; managing uncertainty and conflict (2011) by Peter J. Balint. Washington, DC; Island Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course will provide opportunities for students to improve and develop their skills in critical analysis. Communication skills will be developed through discussion boards and by communication of research in a written assignment.
KeywordsEnvironment,society,ecosystem health,human wellbeing
Course organiserDr Ellie Devenish-Nelson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3508
Course secretaryMr Andrew Le Tissier
Tel: (0131 6)51 4075
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