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

Postgraduate Course: Global Environment Challenges (PGGE11190)

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
SummaryThe course will provide an introduction to a range of 'global environmental challenges' facing humanity. It will provide the necessary background to understanding the policies, politics, governance and ethics, and decision-making processes that underpin the causes of, and responses to, environmental change. It will include an appreciation of the social construction of the term 'global environmental challenges' and the implications of this. The course objectives are:

- To introduce the fundamental concepts of ecosystems and sustainability;
- To explore a range of topical environmental change issues with global dimensions;
- To appreciate the interrelationships between human activity and environmental change;
- To encourage the capacity to critically appraise policy, and other interventions, taking account of issues such as ecological limits, social equity and justice, and processes of social change.
Course description The target audience are professionals who are working in areas related to sustainability, who are studying part time, and at a distance. The chosen approach aims to maximise the benefits of engaging with working professionals, in particular by relating the course topics to the particular needs and interests of students, and also by supporting students to bring their professional experience and expertise into the course and to share this with their peers.

It will adopt a systems approach around key topics to explore: a) how human activity is changing the environment; b) the effects of those changes on humankind; and c) how humans are responding to those effects. It will be organised around a number of key topics, such as climate change, energy, food and water. These will be considered in relation to a number of cross-cutting themes, to explore the relationships between the topic and, e.g. health, development, politics, values, and processes of social change. The course will consider the interrelationships between each of the key topics, and the relationships between impacts and activity as global, regional and local levels.
The course is structured as follows:

Week 0: Welcome and induction
Section 1. Where are we now? Where are we headed?
Week 1: Perspectives & Earth Systems
Week 2: Ecosystem Services & Social-Ecological Systems
Week 3: Substantiality and Sustainable Development
Week 4: Global Environmental Challenges
Week 5: Review and Assignment 1
Section 2. Exploring key topics
Week 6: Production & Consumption of Materials
Week 7: Food
Week 8: Energy
Week 9: Water
Section 3. What next?
Week 10: System change & policy alternatives
Week 11: Innovation & Leadership for Sustainability
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:  15
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 16/09/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Please contact the School directly for a breakdown of Learning and Teaching Activities
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Each student will explore the course material in relation to a chosen case study location, identifying and commenting on local and national policies, initiatives, relevant data sources etc. They will share this with fellow students through an individual blogs, as well as through group discussion boards and online tutorials. Students will draw on their blog to produce two assessed assignments:

1. A context map identifying, and commenting on, key relationships between ecosystem services, human needs and activities affecting the ecosystem, in case study area (30%) (Monday 30th October 2023, 12 noon UK time) Via Turnitin.

2. A critical review of an existing or proposed project in case study area. Subject to the agreement of the course organiser (70%) (Monday 8th January 2024, 12 noon UK time. via Turnitin
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the causes and consequences of a range of environmental challenges facing humanity and the ethical issues relating to them.
  2. Critically appraise the arguments surrounding such issues and be able to communicate to others the reasons for and against a particular course of action in response to different environmental problems.
  3. Communicate to others the reasons for and against a particular course of action in response to different environmental problems.
  4. Use library and other desk-based sources of information in understanding these issues and in supporting their arguments.
  5. Maintain a blog and communicate effectively within discussion fora.
Reading List
None. Targeted reading material is provided throughout the course.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsGlobal Challenges,Distance Learning
Course organiserDr Peter Alexander
Tel: (0131 6)50 9090
Course secretaryMrs Lynn Taylor
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