Global Environmental Change and Sustainability (30 credits)

Key information

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy

Module overview

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 10 - 15 hours study time per week for this module.

Scope and syllabus

The module comprises 15 units (please note that this is an indicative syllabus:

  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


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules