Environmental Science and Society

Key information

Start date: To be confirmed

(Due to run in the 2020/21 academic year)

Attendance dates:

To be confirmed


Stag Hill campus, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH

Contact details:


This module can be taken as a standalone course or as part of building up to a certificate, diploma or master’s degree. You can take up to three modules before deciding whether you want to work towards a degree.

If you are wanting to gain a master’s degree then you will need to complete and pass eight modules and a dissertation within a five year period, certain modules will be compulsory depending on the degree you opt to take. Find out which modules these are and how to apply for a part-time course.

Module overview

This module will introduce key theoretical concepts in the physical and natural sciences and their importance for sustainable development and the complex interactions between scientific knowledge, uncertainty and public policy. It will outline the underlying science behind specific environmental problems such as climate change, ozone depletion and biodiversity loss and give an overview of the scientific approaches to diagnosis, analysis and solution of environmental problems.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

  • Recognise the importance of science to the debates on sustainable development
  • Articulate the scientific dimensions of policy responses to environmental problems
  • Identify the complexities of sustainable development inherent in the science / policy interface
  • Carry out a basic environmental risk assessment.

Course content

Content includes the following:

  • Ecology and biodiversity
  • Thermodynamics of ecosystems and human systems
  • Pollution science
  • The science of climate change
  • The science of ozone depletion
  • Environmental risk assessment
  • Scientific uncertainty and the development processes for environmental policy.

Learning and teaching methods

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures and class discussions
  • In-class assessed group work
  • Independent study.


  • A ten-page group report completed during the module
  • A 3,000 word post-module coursework consisting of short-answer questions, to be completed over the four-week period following this module.

Please note: If you are taking this as a standalone module, then you are not required to complete the post-module coursework, however, this will mean that you won't gain any credits for completing the module and so won't be able to work towards a master's degree if you later decide to do so.

Course leader

Jonathan Chenoweth

Jonathan Chenoweth completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2000 on the institutional dimensions of water resources management before working as a researcher in the Middle East for two years. Since September 2002 he has worked as an academ...

Reading list

You will be required to do some reading prior to the module starting, take a look at the reading list.

Entry requirements

If you are taking this module as a standalone course then there are no entry requirements.

If you are aiming to take this module to work towards a degree then you will need:

  • A minimum of a 2:2 UK honours degree, or a recognised equivalent international qualification.
  • Relevant work experience may also be considered.

Recognition of prior learning

There are no prerequisites required to do this module.

Fees and funding

To be confirmed

For group bookings or bespoke training packages please contact us.

How to apply

MSc courses

Take a look at the course pages if you would like to apply for a part-time (or full-time) MSc course:

Individual module

This is for those wanting to take this as a standalone module or aren't yet sure if they want to work towards a degree.

Payment can be accepted by purchase order, credit card or bank transfer on our online store. Payments will be accepted subject to availability. Please note that we do not charge VAT as we are an educational establishment.

If you have any problems with booking or payments then please contact the Administrative Officer, Melanie Wilde:

Register your interest

Terms and conditions

When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations and our terms and conditions. You are also confirming you have read and understood the University's prospective student privacy notice.

Further details of our terms and conditions will follow.


This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the commencement of the course. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read more.