Foundations and Frontiers of Sustainable Development
- Start date:
- To be confirmed
- Professor Richard Murphy
- Head of Centre for Environment and Sustainability
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
This module explores foundational concepts of Sustainable Development (SD) and provides a comprehensive and challenging exploration of the core concepts, policy challenges and ethical issues in Sustainable Development. The aim is to provide a rich trans-disciplinary understanding of the history, politics, ethics and scientific foundations and cutting-edge issues of SD that will inspire interest in deeper study. We also aim to equip students to discuss and research complex conceptual and practical challenges in the integration of SD ideas in organisations, policies and projects.
This module is aimed at a wide range of students and takes a trans-disciplinary approach to exploring the frontier of sustainable development. The module provides a grounding in sustainability ideas and issues that is self-contained, but it also prepares students to get the best from the complementary module on Sustainable Development Applications (ENGM067). The module is suitable as a foundation for students who have not previously studied sustainability and provides an update on the frontier issues of sustainability for those who have.
On successful completion of this module, you will:
- Understand the basic principles of sustainable development
- Understand the fundamental ethical and political issues raised by sustainable development challenges and concepts
- Understand and discuss major criticisms levelled at the idea of sustainable development
- Engage in debates about the definition, analysis and prospects for realisation of sustainable development.
Content includes the following:
- the nature of development - multiple perspectives on what it is and what it should be, and on the need for a radical new perspective, the 'Overview Effect'
- the idea of the Anthropocene
- a brief history of sustainable development ideas and how they arose
- the Brundtland Report and its implications
- the I=PAT Equation and its implications
- an overview and critical approach to the Planetary Boundaries framework for SD
- values and the ethical dimensions of sustainable development
- social dimensions of SD and environmentalism
- sustainable consumption challenges
- SD and biodiversity
- contested issues in defining and decision-making for SD
- means of assessing sustainable development (e.g. indicators and indices)
- participatory approaches to sustainable development
- case studies in ethical and political controversies raised by SD
- political economy of SD
- critiques of SD
- analysis of key texts and discussion of films offering case studies.
Learning and teaching methods
The learning and teaching methods include:
- Preparatory reading
- Lectures from module team and various guest lecturers from the public, private and civil society sectors
- Films and follow-up discussions
- Discussion groups based on particular challenges and dilemmas.
The summative assessment for this module consists of:
- Pre-module individual critical review in blog format (maximum 1000 words) on a topic of their choice arising from pre-module readings (25%). The blog format enables a very flexible approach and recognizes that communication in this format may well be important in future employment. Students are encouraged to approach this task in a way that will demonstrate critical thinking and academic skills but also produce an accessible and interesting text that could be posted online.
- A post-module individual written assignment (maximum 3000 words) from a supplied list of essay topics, with scope for tailoring of topic by student in agreement with module leader. (75% of module mark).
Please note: If you are taking this as a standalone module, then you are not required to complete the post-module essay, 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.
You will be required to do some reading prior to the module starting, take a look at the reading list.
Module ENGM306 details:
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, but please register your interest with the Head of Centre for Environment and Sustainability, Professor Richard Murphy, at email@example.com.
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Campus locationStag Hill
Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH