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IP201 Sustainability

Dr Tim Burnett
Module Leader
Terms 1-3
22 weeks
20 workshops

+ 6 hours exam revision

Moodle Platform ยป

Principal Aims

The module aims to provide you with in-depth study of a topical issue, Sustainability, using a multi-disciplinary PBL approach. You examine 4 controversial problems using a variety of disciplinary approaches, and acquire a detailed understand of current debates and theories. The problems explored revolve around questions of how to define sustainability, the challenges of measuring and assessing it, the difficulties inherent in governing and managing sustainability, and the uncertainty around globalisation, growth and environmental change.

Principal Learning Outcomes

  • By the end of the module, you will have acquired advanced cognitive skills such as critical analysis, source-text analysis, quantitative and qualitative research methods and communication skills.
  • In addition, by engaging in the multidisciplinary PBL approach you acquire meta-cognitive skills such as : planning how to approach a learning task, identifying the appropriate strategies to solve a problem, monitoring their own comprehension, self-assessing and self-correcting, becoming aware of their own learning styles and identifying their strengths and weaknesses.
  • You acquire subject-knowledge on the issue of sustainability, and will be expected to articulate:
    • an advanced understanding of the challenges inherent in defining sustainability (contextual, ethical, political…);
    • a detailed, evidence-based, understanding of the measures used to assess sustainability and their limitations;
    • an in-depth understanding of the relationship between economic growth and sustainability;
    • a critical response to the debates around population growth and sustainability;
    • a developed and well-informed response to the tension between urban and rural development;
    • your own individual framework for narrating and explaining sustainability.


The module’s structure is based on 4 problems around the broad issue of Sustainability. These are followed by a study of the current critical and theoretical approaches to addressing the broad issue.

Term 1

Defining sustainability (weeks 1-3)

  • Introduction : the emergence and development of sustainability
  • Mastering nature
  • Reconstructing the sustainability narrative : separating myth from reality; Sustainability and Sustainable Development

Measuring and assessing sustainability (weeks 4-6)

  • Sustainability Indices
  • Concepts, methodologies, data tools to assess water use
  • Practical workshop on Water Sustainability

Governing and Managing Sustainability (weeks 7-9)

  • Sustainable consumption
  • Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and Behavioural Change
  • Business and production solutions

Conclusion and looking ahead (week 10)

Term 2

Globalisation, growth and environmental change (weeks 1-5)

  • Economic growth and sustainability
  • Population growth and sustainability
  • Urban sustainability
  • Sustainable rural development and livelihoods

Critical and Theoretical approaches to Sustainability (weeks 6-9)

  • Ecocriticism, Optimisation and Grounded Economic Awareness, Advertising Awareness
  • Transition, Commons thinking, Effortless Action, Permaculture Design
  • Community Gardening, Ecological Intelligence, Gaia Awareness, Social Conscience
  • Systems thinking, Complexity Systems and Practice, Being in the World, Citizen Engagement

Conclusion (week 10)

Term 3




Kopnina, Helen and Eleanor Soreman-Ouimet, eds. Sustainability : Key Issues. Routledge (2015)

Sibbe, Arran, ed. The Handbook of Sustainability Literacy. Green Books (2009)