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Environmental management: systems and sustainability

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In our climate-changing world, the complexity of environmental and sustainability issues requires different ways of thinking and a variety of practices. This module combines systematic and systemic ideas and approaches to develop the skills and understanding you need to create more sustainable futures. The focus is on providing insights into how individuals, organisations and communities can engage with and progress contemporary environmental management issues. You’ll also undertake teamwork to review and make sense of a challenging case study.

What you will study

The module comprises five blocks:

Block 1: Introduction to environmental management
This block introduces the module and the range and complexity of contemporary environmental and sustainability issues. It also introduces key ideas and concepts relating to environmental management, systems and sustainability, plus diagramming as a fundamental systems skill and technique used throughout the module. Additionally, it explores the diverse roles and skills of environmental managers.

Block 2: Environmental management in households
In the second block, you’ll explore the concepts and practices of environmental management at the level of the individual. You’ll learn about environmental management in the context of your home, focusing on crucial issues such as energy management and water use, consumption and waste. It will introduce you to methods and systems ideas that you can apply to your domestic environment.

Block 3: Environmental management in organisations
The third block introduces environmental management within organisational contexts. You’ll explore why organisations face sustainability issues, how they interpret environmental management, and how they manage their environmental impacts and responsibilities using compulsory and voluntary approaches. You’ll also learn about and use some systems ideas to expand your analysis and understanding. Additionally, you’ll examine two case studies of how organisations approach environmental management and sustainability to deepen your understanding.

Block 4: Environmental management in communities
In the fourth block, you’ll look at environmental management issues and approaches at the community level. You’ll learn about the range of stakeholders and diversity of perspectives within a community through an international case study and a UK example. You’ll engage with other students in teamwork to review and make sense of an environmental management situation. This will include engaging with stakeholder perspectives to understand their key concerns and developing indicators to support environmental management.

Block 5: Synthesis
The final block provides you with a synthesis of the main themes. It gives insights from earlier blocks concerning environmental management concepts and practices and how systems approaches can contribute to more sustainable futures. You’ll also review the role and skills of environmental managers, drawing upon your teamwork experience to inform your understanding.

There are associated readings, activities, and audio and video resources for the module as a whole. Environmental management: systems and sustainability (T220) draws on a range of international examples to explore approaches to environmental management in different contexts and situations.

You will learn

By the end of this module, you’ll be able to:

  • describe key ideas such as environmental management and sustainability
  • engage with a range of complex environmental management situations
  • explore the different ways in which diverse stakeholders frame environmental management and assess the implications for domestic, organisational and community environmental management
  • apply a range of systematic and systemic concepts, approaches and techniques to complex environmental situations.

Entry requirements

T220 has no formal entry requirements; however, it is an OU level 2 module. Therefore, you need a good knowledge of environmental and sustainability issues obtained through OU level 1 study or another higher education institution.

We recommend you have completed:

We strongly recommend you check your background and experience are sufficient to tackle this module. We’ve found that appropriately prepared students have the best chance of completing their studies and get the most enjoyment from the module.

Talk to an advisor if you’re not sure you’re ready.

What's included

The study materials for this module are a combination of print and online. The main print materials cover each block of the module. You’ll also have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • audio and video content
  • learning activities
  • assignment details and submission section
  • access to student and tutor group forums.

We’ll also provide an online resource about different diagramming techniques.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11). Any macOS is unsuitable with this module.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to you. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.

You must demonstrate you have participated in the teamwork. You’ll need to provide evidence in the form of contributions to online discussions. If you’re unable to participate in the teamwork due to personal or life circumstances, alternative arrangements are possible.


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

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying T220 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Environmental management: systems and sustainability (T220) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2029.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment