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GD105-15 Environmental Principles of Global Sustainable Development

Global Sustainable Development
Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Alastair Smith
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
60% coursework, 40% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module allows students to investigate the range of perspectives on Sustainable Development from the field of Environmental Studies.

Module web page

Module aims

This module equips students with the capacity to engage in academically grounded and critical discussion of the world's most pressing environmental issues, as well as associated governance responses, at a range of geographical scales. It develops student's subject and process skills, to critique current responses and develop rigorously argued suggestions of their own. The learning opportunities and assessments develop skills necessary for the creation, and the persuasive presentation, of new environmental governance proposals to key decision makers

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

  1. Introduction: The Natural Environment, Human Values and Conceptual Interpretation
  2. Constructing Knowledge of the Environment: Philosophy and Evidence
  3. Introduction to Ecological Principles and Processes
  4. Ecology and Biodiversity for Sustainable Development
  5. Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: International best practice for global change?
  6. Elementary Sustainability: Biogeochemical Flows and Intergenerational Justice
  7. The Sustainability Trump Card? Climate Change and Ocean Acidification
  8. "Water, water everywhere... [concentrated and reserved for the global elite]"
  9. Land-System Change: Loss of the natural world and its implications Speed Bumps and Sustainability? Chemical pollution & atmospheric aerosol loading
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • By the end of the module, students should be able to:1. Explain the main reasons for concern about the health of our planet today, along with the causes, extent, relation to human activities, and impacts of anthropogenic activities over time 2. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of scientific knowledge in the consideration of environmental sustainability 3. Critically appraise discourses of environmental decline and sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective 4. Demonstrate an understanding of key scientific/ academic concepts, frameworks and theories used in relation to environmental sustainability 5. Critically evaluate governance opportunities for greater global environmental sustainability 6. Undertake academically rigorous research into environmental problems to produce policy and practice relevant proposals 7. Persuade environmental decision makers about the merits of evidence based policy and practice proposals in written and oral mediums
Research element

The module requires students to undertake academically rigorous research into environmental problems to produce policy and practice relevant proposals


The module offers learning opportunities focused on the foundational natural science of pressing environmental problems, as well as social science knowledge and analytical skills focused on environmental governance opportunities, their critical analysis, creative development and promotion.

Subject specific skills

Ability to:
critically assess and analyse real-world, pressing environmental sustainability issues;
apply established frameworks and methodologies for analysing the impact(s) of a behaviour or process;
work together to create new knowledge; employ leadership for sustainable development by challenging assumptions and negotiating alternatives to unsustainable current practices;
develop rigorously researched alternative environmental governance;
advocate for new governance approaches in the written and oral medium

Transferable skills

Written communication skills
Oral communication skills
Working with others
Problem solving
Information technology
Research across various disciplines
Peer review

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 10 sessions of 1 hour (7%)
Seminars 10 sessions of 1 hour 30 minutes (10%)
Practical classes 1 session of 2 hours (1%)
Private study 63 hours (42%)
Assessment 60 hours (40%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Reading and preparation for workshops and assessments


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group D1
Weighting Study time
Policy Briefing 40% 35 hours

Policy briefing (2000 words)

Policy Briefing Presentation 20% 2 hours

Presentation of Policy Briefing

Online Examination 40%

1.5 hr examination

  • Online examination: No Answerbook required
Feedback on assessment

All feedback will be provided via tabula; individual face-to-face feedback sessions will be offered to each student.

Past exam papers for GD105

Post-requisite modules

If you pass this module, you can take:

  • GD315-15 Multilingualism and Sustainable Development
  • GD318-15 Multilingualism and Sustainable Development GD315


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of UIPA-L1L8 Undergraduate Economic Studies and Global Sustainable Development
  • Year 1 of UIPA-XL38 Undergraduate Education Studies and Global Sustainable Development
  • Year 1 of UIPA-L8A1 Undergraduate Global Sustainable Development
  • Year 1 of UIPA-L8N1 Undergraduate Global Sustainable Development and Business
  • Year 1 of UIPA-R4L8 Undergraduate Hispanic Studies and Global Sustainable Development
  • Year 1 of UIPA-V1L8 Undergraduate History and Global Sustainable Development
  • Year 1 of UIPA-C1L8 Undergraduate Life Sciences and Global Sustainable Development
  • UIPA-V5L8 Undergraduate Philosophy and Global Sustainable Development
    • Year 1 of V5L8 Philosophy and Global Sustainable Development
    • Year 1 of V5L8 Philosophy and Global Sustainable Development
  • Year 1 of UIPA-L2L8 Undergraduate Politics, International Studies and Global Sustainable Development
  • Year 1 of UIPA-C8L8 Undergraduate Psychology and Global Sustainable Development
  • Year 1 of UIPA-L3L8 Undergraduate Sociology and Global Sustainable Development
  • Year 1 of UIPA-W4L8 Undergraduate Theatre and Performance Studies and Global Sustainable Development