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Making environmental decisions

Many decisions and actions, both individual and collective, affect our environment; yet economic and political considerations often dominate. Defining environment to include biophysical, social, political, economic and other factors, this online module uses a systems framework to integrate environment with other elements when making environmental decisions in complex situations. You will explore a contemporary case of environmental decision making concerning fracking, as well as further examples from different parts of the world around water, energy, agriculture, forestry and climate change. You will also be able to consider an environmental decision-making situation of your own choosing, through the development of a project.

Vocational relevance

Environmental decision making as an activity is key to underpinning the concepts and responsibilities in the processes of environmental management. This module is distinctive in its explicit use of systems theories in its conceptual framework and in its focus on decision making. This systemic approach recognises and makes sense of the highly interconnected and complex challenges that many environmental managers face in the decisions they take. These challenges include working with multiple and often conflicting perspectives of stakeholders and issues of sustainability, biodiversity and quality of life. Systems theories are well recognised as useful in many management traditions, particularly where the issues of management are as much about people as they are about their environment. The systems skills you can expect to develop in this module also have wider vocational relevance beyond environmental management.

Qualifications

T891 is a compulsory module in our:

It is an optional module in our:

This module can also count towards M03, which is no longer available to new students.

Postgraduate Loans

If you study this module as part of an eligible qualification, you may be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan. For more information, see Fees and funding.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.

Module

Module code
T891
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.
30
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 postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.

OU Postgraduate
SCQF 11
FHEQ 7
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

This online module is organised into four blocks, presented online through text, audio and video material. The main blocks are supported by a Techniques guide which is provided as a printed book.

Block 1 - Introducing environmental decision making

You will start by considering different meanings of decision making and, in particular, environmental decision making, together with various approaches to the decision-making process and the factors that influence that process. You will be expected to draw on your own experience as well as the module material and will work online with other students to review some of your own examples. The core case study on fracking will then be introduced and you will engage with the module framework, which provides a way of approaching environmental decision making from a systems viewpoint, as well as a structure for the module.

Block 2 - Exploring with systems

The first stages of the framework and this block are concerned with developing your systemic awareness and exploring situations, initially using systems diagrams and drawing on the case study, other real-life examples and your own experience. You will learn how to engage in environmental decision making by:

  • using systems thinking supported by various tools
  • appreciating multiple perspectives on situations
  • formulating systems of interest in environmental decision-making situations.

You will review the ways that environmental legislation and schemes contribute to environmental decision making, using examples. At this stage of the module, you will also begin to monitor and evaluate your own learning.

Block 3 - Identifying change

You will next focus on the middle stages of the framework considering the purpose and transformation of systems of interest and what changes are both feasible and desirable. This block takes a critical look at economic and ecological rationalities and other issues and activities associated with rational choice and decision support, such as modelling. You will learn how to use models to make sense of complex situations and how to take factors such as risks and uncertainties into account. You will then move on to use practical tools to see how to address issues of participation and negotiation in environmental decision-making processes.

Block 4 - Taking action

The final block focuses on taking action and you will step back to consider the framework as a whole. It includes both systemic and systematic techniques and iteration because the framework is not intended to encourage a linear process. This block is concerned with the contexts, agency and tools for environmental action. It should help you to develop understanding and practice for environmental decision making and will explore how such understanding and practice are combined in the notion of 'praxis'. This block provides you with both a conceptual overview and some practical techniques, backed up with real-life examples and drawing on your own experience, and some key readings. You will engage in critical evaluation as an integral part of taking action and learn how to build evaluation into environmental decision making.

Your final use of the framework will be in the end-of-module assessment (EMA) for which the module prepares you gradually as you study. You will be able to choose an environmental decision-making situation of interest to you as a basis for this EMA.

This module will be of interest to you if you are or intend to become:

  • a professional in an organisation, private and public, tasked with reducing the environmental impacts of projects and plans. You may be working in local and central government or in the business sector and be responsible for reviewing a range of environmental agendas and topics, charged with implementing environmental management schemes, improving environmental performance, or contracting and supplying consultancy services.
  • a professional in international and local companies (e.g. dealing with goods and services) that are expanding and/or changing their market and examining the impact from all perspectives including environmental performance and risks to business
  • someone who wants to develop your professional and/or personal competence relating to work, community or home by increasing your awareness and understanding of environmental change and governance responses
  • someone who wants to enhance your conceptual and professional skills by developing an environmental perspective on management.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will be responsible for monitoring your progress on the module, marking and commenting on your written work and whom you can contact for academic advice and guidance. Online tutorial sessions are available at key stages through the module. The module online forum provides opportunities for discussion with other students, tutors and members of the module team. Your participation in the forum is encouraged but is optional except for one specific part of the module assessment.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

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

You will be expected to submit your end-of-module assessment (EMA) online through the eTMA system.

Course work includes

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

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Future availability

Making environmental decisions (T891) starts twice a year – in May and November.1 This page describes the module that will start in November 2018 and May 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2022.

1From 2021, Making environmental decisions (T891) will start only once a year – in November.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Entry requirements

    This module can be taken on its own or as part of a postgraduate qualification. You must have adequate preparation for study at this level, usually demonstrated by a bachelors degree (or the equivalent).

    Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    01 Nov 2018 Apr 2019 £1360.00

    Registration closes 11/10/18 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    01 May 2019 Oct 2019 £1360.00

    Registration closes 11/04/19 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in November 2022.

    Future availability

    Making environmental decisions (T891) starts twice a year – in May and November.1 This page describes the module that will start in November 2018 and May 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2022.

    1From 2021, Making environmental decisions (T891) will start only once a year – in November.

    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.

    Ways to pay

    We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

    That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options. To find out more see Fees and funding.

    Study materials

    What's included

    This module is presented online with a Techniques guide provided as a printed book.

    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
    • macOS 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 study materials for this module are provided as a series of web pages via the module website and should be accessible using a screen reader (although some mathematical or scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way). Figure descriptions of any diagrams will be provided and the study materials are available in alternative formats, including written transcripts of any audio components.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.