SOAS University of London

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

Global Environmental Change and Sustainability (30 credits)

Credits:
30 credits

This module provides an overview of the major contemporary issues in global environmental change and sustainability, which has increasing relevance for environmental management and development practice in both the developed and developing world.

The module examines definitions, concepts and theories of global environmental change and sustainability; it examines the historical emergence and evolution of scientific and social science understandings of environmental change; and it examines the ways in which global environmental change is increasingly entangled with notions of sustainability.

The themes explored in this module are applied to a variety of sustainability issues, including the tasks of finding appropriate policy responses to the challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution and resource management. The module also covers the implications of global environmental change for disease and for the persistent and widening health inequalities that occur at the global scale.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the terminology and discourse of global and environmental change and sustainability
  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the historical aspects of global environmental change and their linkages with the emerging discourse and concerns of environmentalism and concepts of sustainable development
  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the major contemporary patterns of global environmental change and their linkages with environmentalist and sustainability issues
  • demonstrate critical understanding of the ways in which global environmental change is approached in theory and research - from both scientific and social science perspectives - including the main frameworks used to conceptualise these issues
  • demonstrate critical understanding of the major contemporary issues in relation to global environmental change: biodiversity loss; climate change; air, water and land degradation; forest degradation; coastal, marine and oceanic change; and landscape-scale ecosystem change
  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the contemporary challenges of urban environmental change
  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the complex linkages between global environmental change and patterns of population health and disease, including strategies for promoting health in the context of global environmental change (particularly climate change and air pollution)
  • demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the concept of the Anthropocene and its relation to sustainability, including the related concept of planetary boundaries
  • outline critically the main features and challenges of addressing global environmental change through the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, including through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • discuss and critically assess some radical perspectives towards global environmental change and sustainability

Workload

Students are advised to dedicate 15 - 20 hours study time per week for this module.

Scope and syllabus

The module comprises 16 units:

  1. Introduction to global environmental change
  2. Understanding environmental change
  3. Historical approaches to environmental change
  4. Current approaches to environmental change
  5. Contemporary patterns of global environmental change
  6. Biodiversity change
  7. Climate change
  8. Air quality
  9. Water quality
  10. Coastal and marine environmental change
  11. Land and forest degradation
  12. Urban environmental change
  13. Global environmental change, population health and disease
  14. The Anthropocene and sustainable development
  15. Environmental change in the age of sustainable development
  16. Radical approaches to global environmental change

Method of assessment

This module is assessed by:

  • a 500-word commentary and critical discussion on a key reading, and assessment of the commentaries of two other students (10%)
  • a 3000-word examined assignment (EA), with an element of online interaction and discussion, worth 40%
  • a two-hour written examination worth 50%.

Since the EA is an element of the formal examination process, please note the following:

  • The EA questions and submission date will be available on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
  • The EA is submitted by uploading it to the VLE.
  • The EA is marked by the module tutor and students will receive a percentage mark and feedback.
  • Answers submitted must be entirely the student’s own work and not a product of collaboration.
  • Plagiarism is a breach of regulations. To ensure compliance with the specific University of London regulations, all students are advised to read the guidelines on referencing the work of other people. For more detailed information, see the FAQ on the VLE.

Disclaimer

Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules