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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Applications in Ecological Economics (PGGE11003)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe purpose of this course is to explore a range of methods that can contribute to decision-making in the context of coupled ecological-economic systems. These methods constitute part of the toolkit that:

(1) Enable researchers to analyse real world environmental problems from an ecological economics perspective
(2) Can be used to enhance decision-making and policy design

For each of the core methods featured in the course, students will get to practice analysing data and making decisions and recommendations based on said analysis.
Course description This course is organised and delivered using a flipped-classroom design. This means that class time is spent almost entirely undertaking activities that help you practice conducting analyses with the methods covered in the course, and then linking these analyses to particular decision contexts. Over the course of the semester you will get practice thinking about and communicating what the implications of your analyses are for real-world problems related to Ecological Economics and Sustainability. You will also get the opportunity to practice developing a host of transferable skills related to working in interdisciplinary teams.

The particular variety of flipped-classroom used in this course means that most of the assessments for the semester will be completed and submitted during class time. This requires students to complete assigned readings/prep work and in some cases to complete practice exercises before coming to class, but also means the workload is fairly stable/constant over the term once the course has gotten underway. The course is split into 5 units, each of which focuses on one method. The methods are chosen from:

Cost Benefit Analysis
Multi-Criteria Analysis
Q Methodology
Lifecycle Analysis
Agent-Based Modelling
Bayesian Belief Networks

In each unit, students will be asked to read selected background information on the method and to complete some other specific preparation for the unit. In order to ensure both individual and team accountability, there will be short quizzes on this material at the start of each unit during class. Students will be given a ¿walk-through¿ exercise to make it clear how to complete an analysis using the method in question (inclusive of a discussion of how to make the link between interpreting outcomes and making recommendations in a particular, sustainability-related decision context) before subsequently being asked, in teams, to complete a challenge largely independently of the unit leader. The recommendations made by the team, based on the interpretations of the outcomes of this independent analysis will be submitted in class and will form part of the mark of the course. There are a number of checks and balances built into the course to ensure that teams are productive and functional, and to protect individuals from some of the problems that can arise in teams. Email the course organiser for more information.

The culmination of the course is the final essay. For this essay, each individual will select one of the methods covered in the course. Using the ¿assignment pack¿ provided for that method (containing the problem, starting references, and starting data), each individual will then complete the required analysis and write up the results in a miniature journal article. This assignment allows individuals to showcase their skills and also to practice the kind of analysis they may wish to pursue in their dissertation research.

Throughout the course there is an emphasis on interpretation, making decisions, and in explaining the justifications for the decisions made. The course is suitable for all students interested in methods that are useful for shining light on different dimensions of sustainability problems in a way that is useful for decision makers.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThere is a cap of 5 on the number of non School of GeoSciences students, please contact the course secretary ( for available space prior to registering on this course.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 152 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) THERE IS A CAP OF 5 NON SCHOOL OF GEOSCIENCES STUDENTS
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative:
Individual Quizzes (4 x 2% = 8% total)
Team Quizzes (4 x 2% = 8% total)
Team Challenges (4 x 10% = 40% total)*
Final Essay (5,000 words max; 44%)

*Note that these are weighted for individual contribution based on a qualitative peer/self assessment

In plain English;
I want you to learn about a range of methods that are useful in the context of multi-dimensional sustainability problems (Ecological Economic problems), to be able to conduct analyses using these methods, and to be able to make recommendations and decisions based on those analyses. I want you to be able to communicate the results of those analyses, and the reasoning behind your decisions/recommendations, both informally and formally, and I want you to be able to assess the transferibility of those methods to other contexts by matching the features of the method to the features of the context. Ultimately, by walking you through the process 5 times, I want you to gain more confidence that you could go through the same process, on your own, in your dissertations or in order to teach yourself about a totally new method in the future if you need to or want to.

Individual and Team Quizzes occur in weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10
Team challenges and the peer/self-evaluation process each occur in weeks 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11
The final essay is normally due 2 weeks after the end of the teaching period in semester 2, but this is subject to change annually depending on things like when field trips are happening (if they are happening), pandemic-related issues, etc. The intended due date will be announced at the start of the course, and any modifications that become necessary because of something like the pandemic will be announced well-ahead of time to the class.

Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. identify ecological economics problem (EEPs)
  2. explain the key features of a range of methodologies relevant to decision making in the context of EEPs
  3. conduct simple analyses using these methodologies to make recommendations to decision-makers
  4. appreciate for what is involved in implementing a variety of methods
  5. critically appraising the suitability of particular methods to particular problems
Reading List
Students will need to complete assigned readings before coming to class. These readings are largely in the form of tutorial booklets written for this course. Understanding of the key concepts and methodological features will be assessed each unit via short individual and team quizzes
In addition to the assigned readings, students will be required to consult peer-reviewed journal articles for the assignments. Students will be responsible for finding these journal articles.
Supplemental readings that may be helpful to students will be provided for each method on LEARN

Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Team work; Decision-Making; Quantitative Analysis; Interdisciplinary Analysis; Problem-Solving
Keywordssustainability,team based learning,quantitative methods,flipped classroom,Ecological Economics
Course organiserMs Joana Guimaraes Ferreira
Tel: (0131 5)35 4153
Course secretaryMiss Lydia Hall
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