Environmental Science and Society

Key information

Start date:
To be confirmed

Expected to run in autumn 2023.

Contact details:


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

    If you do decide to build up to a qualification, then you will need to complete and pass the following amount of modules within a five year period: four modules for a certificate; eight modules for a diploma; eight modules and a dissertation for a degree. Please note that certain modules will be compulsory depending on the degree you opt to take.

    If you would like to gain a qualification then you will need to register onto one of our master's courses:

    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 qualification if you later decide to do so.

    Course leader

    Jonathan Chenoweth profile image

    Dr Jonathan Chenoweth

    Senior Lecturer, Director of Learning and Teaching for Environment and Sustainability

    Reading list

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

    Entry requirements

    There are no entry requirements if you are taking this as a standalone module.

    For those wanting to build up to a qualification, please refer to the MSc course pages for entry requirements.

    Fees and funding

    Fees are to be confirmed

    How to apply

    Applications are currently closed. Please register your interest with Caroline Stuart at caroline.stuart@surrey.ac.uk, so we can let you know when the next course is running.

    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 the full disclaimer.

    Course location and contact details

    Campus location

    Stag Hill

    Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

    Caroline Stuart Development and Administration Officer

    University of Surrey
    Surrey GU2 7XH