SOAS University of London

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

Environmental Science and Management

Module Code:
P120 (P500)

This module provides an overview of the main contemporary issues in environmental science and management, introducing the earth system and its main components and processes. It covers the main features of the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere, emphasising their connections and interactions. The cryosphere is also considered separately (although it may be regarded as a subset of the hydrosphere). This module focuses on the science underlying the most prominent global environmental issues, including biodiversity loss and climate change. However, it also highlights the links between global and local environmental issues. Important approaches to, and principles of, environmental management are also examined in this module. Also, in this module, some important questions are raised about the social and cultural construction of scientific knowledge. In particular, a recurring theme is the idea that scientific knowledge is produced by certain groups and reflects particular interests. In turn, that knowledge is used to inform environmental management practices and environmental policies – practices and policies that also reflect broader economic structures, social patterns and power relations. This module emphasises that it is important to adopt a critical approach to environmental science and management, focusing on the key questions of whose interests are served – and whose are overlooked – in creating and using environmental science. Only if such questions are taken seriously can environmental science and management contribute effectively to sustainable development and poverty reduction.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the fundamentals of environmental science, emphasising some of the most important environmental issues at the global and local scales. 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.

  • To explain the most important features of the Earth system and its main components (the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and biosphere).
  • To examine the important topic of environmental change and some of the ways in which past environments may be reconstructed.
  • To explain the importance of environmental monitoring and modelling for understanding the earth system.
  • To explain the main approaches to, and principles of, environmental management, and to illustrate some of the ways in which environmental science informs environmental management and policy.

Scope and syllabus

  • Unit 1 Introduction: the earth system and its components
  • Unit 2 The geosphere
  • Unit 3 The atmosphere
  • Unit 4 The hydrosphere
  • Unit 5 The cryosphere
  • Unit 6 The biosphere
  • Unit 7 Environmental change
  • Unit 8 Environmental modelling and monitoring
  • Unit 9 Environmental management: approaches and principles
  • Unit 10 Environmental science and management: issues and challenges

Module sample

The module uses a core text which is specially written and will take you through your self-directed study. Exercises, assignments and other activities, such as self-assessment questions, film clips and animations are included to help you with learning. Most module study guides are now provided in electronic format on a USB flash memory stick, but can also be downloaded from the online learning environment. Click the linked image below to view a sample of our e-study guide:


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules