What you will study
In the first part of the module, you’ll choose five of the following options depending on where you need to develop skills and your interests.
This topic explores the wicked problem of anthropogenic climate change, focusing on the ambitions of the 2015 Paris Agreement. It will guide you through analysis of Earth system modelling outputs, development of climate policy scenarios to achieve net zero, and the evaluation of climate change impacts, including impacts on energy demands, ecosystem tipping points and food crop yields. There’s an opportunity to perform an impact case study on a region and crop of your choosing, using an interactive tool that generates regional climate change projections from IPCC model outputs. Climate change policy has long been regarded as a prisoner’s dilemma, where it is in nobody’s interest to act first. The final section introduces some of the latest ideas challenging those beliefs and providing some grounds for optimism.
As biodiversity continues to decline globally, the conservation of nature, both for its intrinsic value and the services it provides humanity, has become critical. This topic addresses conservation by exploring how the past fossil record can inform current and future conservation efforts. It examines the current biodiversity crisis and conservation efforts to address it and investigates the future threats to biodiversity and possible pathways to their protection. Through critical reading, you’ll identify emerging biodiversity threats, evaluate their importance and offer potential solutions.
External opportunities and self-directed
Independent and external opportunities allow you to tailor your learning experience to professional development requirements, your interests or gain valuable vocational practice. Choices include setting up a small field or database project, attending a recognised course given by an external provider (a separate fee will apply), participating in a citizen science project, or completing work experience. We’ll provide guidance on possible choices and how to make the time available. Depending on the activity you choose, the topic will allow demonstration and development of technical competencies and a range of personal skills, including initiative, creativity and curiosity.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) permeate society at all levels, from sophisticated exploration of planetary surfaces to mundane chores like finding a hotel. Setting satellite imagery and other data into their spatial context, GIS includes many key tools for defining, exploring and resolving environmental issues. In this topic, you’ll learn the basic anatomy and essential functions of GIS. Additionally, you’ll gain experience of how GIS software works by completing hands-on activities via a web browser – creating maps, adding data and posing environmental questions. Finally, there’s an opportunity to practice your new skills by using GIS analysis to solve real-world environmental problems.
Impact of volcanoes
Volcanoes are the most spectacular manifestation of the dynamic nature of planet Earth. They impact every aspect of life on Earth, bringing the elements that comprise the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and lithosphere to the surface. This topic investigates how the chemistry of erupted rocks depend on internal Earth processes, how they influence the nature of eruptions and the hazards to life and the environment locally and even globally. It investigates how rock composition is measured in a digital lab and considers how public education can reduce volcanic hazard through effective leadership and communication. Through a digital laboratory, you’ll measure volcanic rock composition and better understand Earth processes. You’ll also consider the peer-review process experts use for research papers and technical reporting before publication.
Anthropogenic pollution of the air we breathe poses a significant risk to human health and ecosystem function. This topic introduces a range of pollutants from a variety of sources and the techniques used to monitor them. Using real data, we’ll prepare a technical report on pollution events that utilises appropriate quantitative techniques and evaluate the results in terms of potential health and environmental impacts. Critical evaluation of real reports on pollution incidences is also covered.
The circular economy
As the problems of dealing with waste and using resources sustainably become of increasing concern, we need new ways of thinking beyond the traditional linear model of make, use and dispose. This topic considers the circular economy, which is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. Through critical reading and case studies, it explores how we can build a circular economy that is restorative or regenerative by intention and design.
In addition to your five options, in the later part of the module, there’s the chance to participate in a collaborative project and refine your independent work. In the collaborative project, working in a team with fellow students, you’ll use your skills to suggest a solution to an environmental problem. You’ll learn to collaborate effectively, supported by a tutor. There’s also the opportunity to refine parts of your earlier assessment based on tutor feedback before submitting the revised work for the end-of-module assessment. This process of improving your work gives you a more authentic experience of preparing technical reports and proposals.
You will learn
This module focuses on developing personal, professional, and employability skills: particularly effective communication to a range of audiences, problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration. You’ll learn how to apply knowledge and understanding to evaluate and address environmental challenges. This involves furthering your skills in finding and utilising different lines of evidence and appreciating the limits of current knowledge. The team project allows you to develop collaborative skills in a supportive environment. Notably, the module enables you to plan and organise your learning and develop independence and self-awareness.