SOAS University of London

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

Global Environmental Change and Sustainability (30 credits)

30 credits

This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the fundamentals of global environmental change and sustainability, emphasising some of the most important environmental and sustainability issues. It also aims to explain the main principles of environmental management and to demonstrate some of the ways in which environmental science is used to inform policy and management.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  • explain the main concepts of environmental science, including the concept of the earth system and its main components (the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and biosphere) and critically appraise the relevant importance of each of these to environmental management and public policy
  • critically explain the idea of environmental change and to state and interpret some of the main environmental changes of earth’s recent history
  • explain and critically appraise the importance of environmental monitoring and modelling in understanding the earth system
  • identify the main approaches to, and principles of, environmental management, and to compare and contrast the importance and practical utility of these
  • place their knowledge and understanding of global environmental change in the context of broader questions and debates about sustainability.


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

Scope and syllabus

The module comprises 15 units:

  1. Introducing Global Environmental Change and Sustainability
  2. Introducing the Earth System
  3. The Geosphere
  4. The Atmosphere
  5. The Hydrosphere
  6. The Cryosphere
  7. The Biosphere
  8. Environmental Change
  9. Environmental Monitoring and Modelling
  10. Managing Environmental Change: Approaches and Principles
  11. Managing Environmental Change: Methods and Issues
  12. Planetary Boundaries
  13. Planetary Health
  14. Adaptation and Resilience
  15. Putting It All Together

Method of assessment

This module is assessed by:

  • initial exercise, commentary and critical discussion (10%)
  • 3000-word examined assignment (EA), with an element of online interaction and discussion (40%)
  • two-hour written examination (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.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules