Environmental and Social Impact Assessment

Key information

Year of study
10 weeks
Module code
Centre for Financial and Management Studies

Module overview

As you will learn in this module, the intended beneficiaries or investors are not the only audiences to whom it must be demonstrated that a project’s technical, institutional and financial attributes warrant that the project will be worthwhile. The effects a project will have (ie, its impacts) on the environment, nearby communities and wider society must also be investigated so they can be taken into consideration by the decision-makers who determine whether the project should proceed.

The most widely used techniques to investigate a project’s environmental and social implications are Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA), or Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). Many governments, project financiers and project developers require ESIA or EIA.

Two types of project assessment can be distinguished:

  • Ex ante assessment: determining in advance (ie, before it is implemented) whether a project is worthwhile and should proceed and, if so, in what format – this is sometimes called project appraisal or evaluation.
  • Ex post assessment: assessing the performance of a project after it has been implemented and completed (ie, retrospectively) – this is sometimes called (environmental) auditing or performance monitoring.

This module covers the ex ante ESIA of projects. It also introduces tools used to support ESIA, ways of improving the effectiveness of ESIA, and ways in which other (non-ESIA) techniques are used to investigate the environmental and social implications of projects and other initiatives.

Learning outcomes

When you have completed your study of this module, you will be able to:

  • analyse and critically appraise the stages in ESIA processes
  • synthesise and evaluate the outcomes of an ESIA
  • critique ESIA in practical applications
  • critically discuss thematic and specialised assessment approaches
  • evaluate the contribution of strategic and emerging forms of assessment
  • critically assess the role of ESIA as a policy and planning tool.

Tuition and assessment

Students are individually assigned an academic tutor for the duration of the module, with whom you can discuss academic queries at regular intervals during the study session.

You are required to complete two Assignments for this module, which will be marked by your tutor. Assignments are each worth 15% of your total mark. You will be expected to submit your first assignment by the Tuesday of Week 6, and the second assignment at the end of the module, on the Tuesday after Week 10. Assignments are submitted and feedback given online. In addition, queries and problems can be answered through the Virtual Learning Environment.

You will also sit a three-hour examination on a specified date in September/October, worth 70% of your total mark. An up-to-date timetable of examinations is published on the website in July each year.

Study resources

  • Study guide: The module study guide is carefully structured to provide the main teaching, defining and exploring the main concepts and issues, locating these within current debate and introducing and linking the assigned readings.
  • Key texts: John Glasson & Riki Therivel (2019) Introduction to Environmental Impact Assessment. 5th Edition. Abingdon UK: Routledge.
  • Readings: Throughout the module you will be directed to study a selection of readings, including journal articles, book extracts and case studies that are of particular relevance and interest to the topics covered in the module.
  • Virtual learning environment: You will have access to the VLE, a web-accessed study centre. Via the VLE, you can communicate with your assigned academic tutor, administrators and other students on the module using discussion forums. The VLE also provides access to the module Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library.

Study calendar 2022/23

Module S1
Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (M469)  Not running Running Not running Not running

Study calendars are subject to change.

Module overview

Unit 1 Introduction to ESIA

  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Origins and Variations in Application
  • 1.3 The Purpose of ESIA
  • 1.4 Drivers for ESIA
  • 1.5 The Overall ESIA Process
  • 1.6 Structuring ESIAs
  • 1.7 Success of ESIA
  • 1.8 Social Impact Assessment
  • 1.9 Reflection on SIA
  • 1.1 Conclusion

Unit 2 Laying the Foundations for ESIA

  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Screening
  • 2.3 Scoping
  • 2.4 Project Description
  • 2.5 Baseline Description
  • 2.6 Data Collection, Interpretation and Reporting
  • 2.7 Conclusion

Unit 3 Impact Assessment – the ‘Heart’ of ESIA

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 Impact Identification and Prediction
  • 3.3 Impact Significance Evaluation
  • 3.4 Social Impacts and Equity
  • 3.5 Conclusion

Unit 4 Impact Management, Reporting and Decision-Making

  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Impact Mitigation and Enhancement
  • 4.3 Environmental and Social Management and Monitoring
  • 4.4 Reporting the ESIA
  • 4.5 ESIA and Decision-Making
  • 4.6 Conclusion

Unit 5 ESIA Stakeholder Engagement/Public Consultation

  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 Stakeholder Engagement: Objectives and Benefits
  • 5.3 Methods of Securing Stakeholder Engagement
  • 5.4 Stakeholder Engagement in Practice
  • 5.5 Conclusion

Unit 6 Improving the Effectiveness of ESIA

  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 ESIA Planning and Project Management
  • 6.3 Implementation and Follow-up
  • 6.4 Conclusion

Unit 7 Thematic and Specialised Assessment Techniques

  • 7.1 Introduction
  • 7.2 Themed Impact Assessment
  • 7.3 ‘Specialised’ Assessment Techniques
  • 7.4 Conclusion

Unit 8 Strategic and Emerging Forms of Assessment

  • 8.1 Introduction
  • 8.2 Widening the Scope of Impact Assessment
  • 8.3 Emerging Forms of Impact Assessment
  • 8.4 Conclusion

Module samples


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules