Module Catalogue 2020/21

TCP2023 : Understanding Sustainable Development (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sebastian Weise
  • Demonstrator: Professor Simin Davoudi, Dr Loes Veldpaus, Professor Roger Burrows
  • Lecturer: Dr David Webb, Professor Geoff Vigar
  • Other Staff: Dr Andrew Donaldson
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



1.       To explore topics and issues related to environment and sustainability.
2.       To develop an understanding of the impacts, responses, and contested solutions to environmental problems based on an understanding of key environmental policy and planning principles.
3.       To develop a critical awareness of the processes of environmental knowledge production.
4.       To understand the notion of ‘wicket problems’ and approach them through systems thinking

Sustainable development is accepted as principle in both planning thinking and practice; as human civilisation is becoming increasingly urban and globally connected, tackling global climate change is moving to the forefront of global politics. This module builds on the environmental issues and processes covered in Stage 1, looking at the impacts urbanization raises, how solutions are negotiated, and decisions made. Drawing on examples of avant-garde projects and cases, the module frames this discussion within the context of planning, policy, and legislation in relation to different urban infrastructure systems (e.g. water, transport, electricity, communications etc). We considers the extent to which the planning system in the UK aids or hinders sustainable development; and emphasise the role that the regulatory environment plays in sustainable outcomes. Looking at different social and infrastructural systems, the module, based on the view that addressing climate change is an inherent part of the planning for sustainable development. Key to this is a critical awareness of the processes of environmental knowledge production in urban systems and the governance of the flows that constitute human settlements. While information on environmental matters comes from varied and often contradictory sources, and this module aims to develop students’ ability to reflect upon and evaluate urban systems in appropriate ways.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module first provides a general introduction to define key terms. We also debate ethics and principles in the UK’s planning system, the governance of shared resource systems and urban infrastructures. A series of sessions then focus on specific policy areas such as mobili-ty, energy, food, housing. The in-build field trip to the Netherlands introduces a comparative component of responses found in different legal and political systems.
* Sustainable development principles and politics in the context of the 21st century
* Role of digital media in sustainable development.
* The sharing economy: rhetoric and reality of new consumption economics
* Transport and sustainable mobility: challenges, principles and policies
* Sustainable cities and urban form: land-use planning and the hinterland
* Sustainable development in urban settlements of the ‘global south’
* Food supply chains and sustainable development
* Flood risk management and crisis response
* Energy systems, challenges, principles and policies

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

This module builds on knowledge of environment and sustainability gained at stage 1 and provides a thorough grounding for implementing key concepts in stage 3.

Intended Skill Outcomes

On completion of the module students should be able to:
•apply the principles of environmental policy and planning to key issues
•recognise the complex interdependencies between social, economic and ecological in urban systems.
•demonstrate an understanding of the environmental problems and solutions.

Key skills which students should expect to absorb in this module:

1. Inter-disciplinary and inter-professional skills
- Social and environmental awareness: central to this module is an understanding the integration of social, economic and environmental issues, if sustainable development is to be achieved on different scales
2. Study skills and research
- reflection: this module encourages students to consider the wider ethical context of their everyday practices, as citizens and as professionals
3. Critical awareness of the construction of knowledge
- students should be aware of the construction of knowledge and be able to critically evaluate different sources

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion141:0041:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading142:0042:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork140:0040:00Optional Overseas Field Trip
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study141:0041:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide the structure for student guided learning through reading and assignment preparation to develop a knowledge and understanding of environmental systems and sus-tainable development and their relationship with planning systems. Seminars develop and reinforce lecture material and give students the chance to think through and practice some of the issue themselves in a mini project we’ll debate in class. This is followed by a larger research and writing project looking at one of the themes introduced in the lectures. Case studies are used as means to specify outcomes for Sustainable Development given different assumptions. The optional overseas fieldtrip is an opportunity for those students who wish to undertake a practical case study for their final assignment. Otherwise, desk-based case studies will be provided to those students not taking the field trip.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation602M20Presentation - 4 x 15 minute presentations assessed during the module
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M80At the end of Semester 2 - 2,500 words; ; ideally following on from topic of the mini project.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assessments were designed to test the students’ ability to assemble and synthesise appropriate information demonstrating their insight in a environmental systems, sustainable development challenge, and policy field of their choice. The formative assessment gives students feedback on their progress and allows them the opportunity to improve in any areas required.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 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 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.