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Environment: responding to change

This interdisciplinary module will equip you to take an active part in sustainability debates. It will provide a guide to the mass of information currently available on key environmental issues, including conservation of biodiversity, adaptation to climate change and long-term food security. It will encourage you to look at these issues from multiple perspectives and to take a holistic view of environmental systems, including how we value them. An investigation strand will run throughout the module, in which you’ll look at an aspect of your local environment or consumption behaviour to evaluate the possibilities of future response to change.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code
SDT306
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
OU SCQF FHEQ
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

The module consists of three blocks and a project:

Block 1: Biodiversity and conservation
Your presence on planet Earth is entirely dependent on biodiversity. Living organisms produce the oxygen in the air you breathe, recycle nutrients and water and make up your food. The sheer variety of form, function, colour and beauty in nature – a record of evolutionary history – has inspired people for the duration of human existence and continues to enrich our lives and our culture. Nevertheless, life on Earth is under threat and needs urgent action. In Block 1, you’ll explore biodiversity, starting with that around you – even on your dinner plate – and move on to look at the nature of global diversity. You’ll examine past, present and future threats to species, and investigate solutions to the ongoing biodiversity crisis. By the end of the block – and based on the latest research in biodiversity and conservation – you’ll have an understanding of the diversity and importance of life on Earth, and the ability to evaluate threats to it and propose potential solutions.

Block 2: Climate change
You need to take an interdisciplinary approach to understand climate-change science and politics. You’ll be introduced to the role and workings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and to their summary of the science. This will lead on to the study of international environmental treaties, culminating in the 2015 Paris Agreement. You’ll learn how to access key data on the status of national emissions, using the UNFCCC's website, and interpret its significance. You’ll also gain a good understanding of the workings of a key set of climate change research and policy tools: integrated assessment models. These bring to life the implications of economic and rights-based approaches to the issue of climate equity. The topic raises big questions about our relationship with ‘distant others’, future generations, and the non-human living world. In addition to text, you’ll work with interactive online content, including the world’s first interactive map of a UN climate change conference and a media-rich timeline of environmental history. To conclude the block, you’ll rehearse the role of an environmental journalist, researching and writing your own article, again supported by specially commissioned interactive materials.

Block 3: Food security
The quest for global food security has brought into discussion the need for feeding an expected 9–10 billion people, by 2050, with adequate and nutritious food for a healthy life. With this aim in the background, you’ll explore multiple facets of food security: limits to food production, landscape management, and policies for access to food. This block will build on the concepts that previous blocks introduced you to – i.e. drivers of biodiversity gains and losses, and the challenge posed by climate change to our food production and management systems. You’ll build on your knowledge of Earth’s natural resources (normally gained in previous modules) and expand further on the management conflicts and synergies with Earth and its human inhabitants.

Project work
The project involves three stages threaded throughout the module. First, in Block 1, you’ll study introductory material on a) the biodiversity of the food you eat and b) on the benefits provided to us by trees in our environment – you’ll choose one of these threads as the focus for your project work. Second, you’ll collect your own data to carry out a mini-project using practical and investigative work. Third, in Block 2, you’ll design an investigation, analyse data and report on your findings in a manner appropriate for a variety of audiences. This will involve group work to explore several different aspects of the topic before presenting your findings as a group. In Block 3, you’ll carry out an individual project from beginning to completion by applying all of your research skills acquired earlier in this module. This project will form a major part of the end-of-module assessment, including a presentation as a blog.

You will learn

This module will:

  • develop your understanding of the environmental choices we face and the multiplicity of perspectives from which they can be addressed
  • develop the practical skills needed to acquire primary data, analyse it statistically, gather qualitative evidence and communicate your findings effectively
  • provide you with an opportunity to focus on a real-world issue, discuss perspectives with your fellow students, design your own investigation and present your findings via a blog.

Vocational relevance

This module will equip you with skills relevant to the fields of sustainability planning and environmental assessment, which are rapidly developing areas of employment.

Outside the UK

SDT306 is available to students outside the UK but locations for the field days will be within the UK (there will be an online alternative).

The ecosystems services project thread will be difficult to achieve from outside the UK, meaning non-UK students will have a more limited choice of project topic.

Synchronous tutorials and communications could be difficult to deliver to students outside UK due to time differences. If you can’t attend the synchronous tutorials or make synchronous communications, you’ll have to use asynchronous alternative methods, such as watching recorded tutorials and emailing questions.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You’ll have a named tutor who will support your studies and mark and comment on your assignment work; you can also seek academic advice and guidance from them. Your tutor will offer support through email, telephone and online forum discussions. Additionally, there will be face-to-face and online tutorials. We will advertise tutorials before the module starts; SDT306 tutors will take them, but depending on the tutorial, not necessarily your own named tutor. We recommend you book online to attend these tutorials.

Assessment

You can find the assessment details for this module in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Environment: responding to change‚Äč (SDT306) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    There are no formal entry requirements to study this module.

    However, as this is an OU level 3 module, you’ll need recent experience in a related subject obtained through the following:

    • OU level 1 and 2 study (preferable1)
    • equivalent work at another university
    • professional experience

    Check that you’re ready for SDT306 with our quiz Are You Ready For SDT306? You can find it on the SDT306 preparation website.

    If you’re still not sure that you’re ready, talk to an adviser.

    1This module builds on understanding and skills developed in module Environment: journeys through a changing world (U116). We recommend you’ve studied this and another OU level 2 science or social science module before starting SDT306, such as Environmental science (S206 or SXF206) or Environment: sharing a dynamic planet (DST206).

    Register

    Start End Fee
    - - -

    No current presentation - see Future availability

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2025.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 20/11/2018.

    What's included

    • Access to the module study materials via the module website

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones.

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying SDT306 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.