Module Catalogue 2019/20

GEO3134 : Geographies of Sustainability

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gareth Powells
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment

This module is open to any student following a geography pathway

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment

N/A

Aims

This human geography module provides third year students with an opportunity to engage with the vibrant and growing field of contemporary geographical research on the relationships between social and environmental processes through the lens of sustainability.
The course introduces foundational concepts and key geographic perspectives on sustainability then develops a number of conceptually rich and empirically detailed accounts of particular issues that have been the focus of geographical enquiry. The course will be of immediate relevance to students considering post graduate studies and / or careers that concern environment – society interactions.

Outline Of Syllabus

Unit 1 provides over-arching geographic concepts and frames for thinking about sustainability.
Unit 2 provides focus points that allow students to use the concepts of Unit 1 to think critically about specific sustainability issues.

UNIT 1: THINKING ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY
The first substantive unit provides over-arching geographic concepts and frames for thinking about sustainability. In each week in Unit 1 students will attend a two hour lecture session and a two hour seminar.
The seminars will be made up of two kinds of activity. Firstly there will be structured discussions and / or debates of the issues raised in the lecture and required readings. This will enable students to develop a deeper, more critically aware understanding of the concepts and research landscape and will be of particular benefit to students who prefer to learn through dialogue and those who learn more effectively in small groups.
Secondly, each seminar will include a problem-based learning activity in which students will grapple with a real-world sustainability issue. These activities will enable active learning through problem solving and will also develop key skills and awareness for students interested in a career in the sustainability sector.

UNIT 2: ISSUES IN SUSTAINABILITY
The second unit provides focus points that allow students to use the concepts of Unit 1 to think critically about specific sustainability issues. In each week in Unit 2 students will attend a two hour lecture session. There are no seminars during unit 2 to allow time for essay writing and independent study.

Unit two is issue-led and will equip students with detailed empirical knowledge while enabling them to see how principles and concepts meet with one another as they connect with overlapping issues and particular places. The course will show how sustainability is a contested concept and one where geographic understanding and practices can make important contributions, both academically and in applied contexts.

Typical Lecture Schedule (actual lecture content may change from year to year to ensure the module is up to date and responds to development sin the field)

1 Welcome and origins of sustainability
Unit 1: Thinking about sustainability
2 Global environmental governance
part a. Global environmental governance
part b. Markets, institutions and the commons
3 Political economy and the environment
part a. Capital, neoliberalism and nature
part b. Political ecology
4 Urban sustainability
part a. Urban economic development and environmental sustainability
part b. Urban ecosystems
5 5 Socio-technical sustainability transitions
part a. Social practices and interventions
part b. Contending theories of change

Unit 2: Issues in sustainability
Week 6 and 7 Energy Geographies
Week 8 and 9 Sustainable Food
Week 10 and 11 Sustainable Water and Waste
Week 11 The Nexus

Conclusion
12 Revision and exam preparation

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1.       The over-arching aim of the module is to enable students to develop an empirically and conceptually rich critical understanding of the how geographers have understood and contributed to wider understandings of sustainability of society – environment interactions.

2.       Within this the module aims to provide:

a.       A critical awareness of key conceptual frameworks and framings of sustainability, including the political, economic and environmental effects of ideas in shaping policy and public practices.
b.       Detailed and empirically grounded knowledge of key sustainability issues and cases.
c.       A reflexive evaluation of contemporary notions and deployments of sustainability and how these relate to and interact with cultures and processes of globalization and neo-liberalism.

Intended Skill Outcomes

1.       Ability to discuss field observations with peers, connecting these to academic literatures
2.       Ability to work on own initiative to follow up themes and issues introduced on the course
3.       Ability to work with peers to produce a collaborative presentation
4.       Ability to produce written work for different audiences
5.       Ability to work under time pressure

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching71:007:00Weekly seminars during Unit 1
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:305:00Assessment preparation and feedback
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study72:0014:00Seminar prep
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1501:00150:00Course reading, exam preparation
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Unit 1 provides over-arching geographic concepts and frames for thinking about sustainability.

Unit 2 provides focus points that allow students to use the concepts of Unit 1 to think critically about specific sustainability issues.

Lectures are one hour each. They aim to:

-Introduce an issue or area of focus using key geographic contributions

-Use case studies to provide students with detailed empirical knowledge

-Enable students to see how principles and concepts meet with one another as they connect with overlapping issues and particular places to make sustainability a contested concept and one where geographic understanding and practices can make important contributions, both academically and in applied contexts

The seminars will consist of structured discussions and / or debates of the issues and of particular authors’ work introduced on the module. This will enable students to develop a deeper more critically aware understanding of the concepts and research landscape and will be of particular benefit to students who prefer to learn through dialogue and those who learn more effectively in small groups.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901A60Prepared exam. Students sit an exam in formal exam conditions. The exam paper will be released in advance to enable focused prep
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M40An academic essay based on the content of Unit 1. 1500 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Performance1MTAs and module leader will gauge student learning in seminar and surgeries
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

An essay is the first piece of assessment, carrying 40% of the module mark. This is a good opportunity for students to get feedback about their progress (both in terms of the mark and qualitative written feedback and the surgeries) and then use it to adapt their practice to maximize their performance in the prepared exam (60%).

The prepared exam is an essay writing task to be completed in exam conditions in an exam hall but students will be given the questions one week in advance. This will enable students to develop sophisticated essays based on focused research and planning in the time leading up the exam. This format tests not only writing ability but also assesses ability to conduct focused academic research, ability to use journals and databases to develop strong and well supported arguments. This format also enables students with learning difficulties to take more time to read and process the questions and to plan answers.

Timetable

Past Exam Papers

General Notes

N/A

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.