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ACE2077 : Sustainable Solutions

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Elisa Lopez-Capel
  • Lecturer: Dr Lee Higham, Miss Helen Atkinson, Dr Kirsty McInnes, Miss Katie Wray, Mrs Julia Robinson, Dr Amy Proctor, Mrs Helen Adamson, Dr Maureen Wakefield, Dr Toni Carruthers, Dr Ankush Prashar, Dr Mark Ireland
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The overall purpose of the module is to develop students’ understanding of the complex challenges faced by organisations / companies in the arena of sustainability and the linkages between these specific challenges and the wider UN Sustainable Development Goals. The module provides students with the opportunity to work with an external organisation on a problem and generate a sustainable solution. The students will work in small teams with colleagues from other degree programmes and bring principles and practice from their own disciplines to application within the solution. At the end of an intense week of development the team will pitch their idea to the challenge sponsor having considered social, economic and environmental aspects of their proposal. The module allows students to participate in a problem based, experiential learning challenge, as part of the ‘Engaged Newcastle’ scheme and to consider future career development opportunities.

Outline Of Syllabus

Module content prior to challenge
Introduction to the module and career opportunities / skills development.
Placement opportunities event
Global citizenship, study abroad event
Careers fair / Future Worlds of Work
Your disciplinary focus within interdisciplinary teams, Belbin type exercise
Announcement of companies and organisations that will provide challenges. Students submit their application to participate, including evidence (skills profile and cv) on what they will contribute to a team based challenge.
Project planning, management and the skills required for responsible innovation.

Challenge activities week
Day 1: Company challenges are presented, Students split into groups to work on specific challenges. Lecture and activities on problem solving, enterprise, and the UN sustainable development approach.

Day 2: Research skills (finding information on innovations) and development of research ideas; student teams meet / skype their challenge sponsors to discuss ideas and gain early feedback. Independent team based study

Day 3: Skills development on how to pitch ideas and how to write a business case. independent team based study.

Day 4: Development of ideas / case supported by meeting / skype call with challenge sponsors and pitch practice.

Day 5: Student teams pitch their ideas (sponsor feedback). Selected groups compete in final elevator pitches (students / sponsors vote for category winners); followed by celebration / networking event.

Post challenge week
Business case submission and self-reflection (skills profile and CV update)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Online - group presentation (40% summative) during challenge activities
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion12:002:00Online - self-reflection project selection before challenge activity (formative)
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials121:0012:00A combination of short recordings of lecture material and text published on VLE (CANVAS)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture41:004:00module talks by companies and academic experts
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion110:0010:00Online - group report (60% summative) following from challenge activities
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading121:0012:00Online - module lecturer will give students relevant reading for module topics
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00Placement and year abroad Talks
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops33:009:00module workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00drop-in tutorials to support self reflection and group report
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity361:0036:00Online group activities throughout semester
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures provide an introduction to the format of the task, ways of working and establish the underlying terminology and principles involved in responsible and sustainable innovation in a global and specific context (knowledge outcomes). The workshops and guided independent study allow students to develop skills required to work within teams seeking sustainable solutions for the challenge sponsor and to reflect more widely on opportunities to develop their profile further outside of this module (knowledge and skills outcomes). The student led small group activity allows students to engage directly with the external organisations and present specific solutions to the sponsors (skills outcomes).

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report1M80group report (3000 words equivalent to 10 pages A4, excluding references and appendices)
Written exercise1M206min pechakucha group presentation (end of challenge)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1MSelf-reflection on team contribution (survey prior to challenge)
Prof skill assessmnt1MCompany meeting on group sustainable solution proposal
Prof skill assessmnt1Mself-reflection on skills development (survey after challenge)
Written exercise1Mpeer-assessment (buddycheck on group work)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

As the format of the module is predominantly a problem based, experiential learning challenge, with the aim to allow students to develop professional skills in a multidisciplinary team based setting it is not appropriate to measure performance on the normal academic scale, including self and peer assessment. The self-reflection exercises will challenge students to think about their contribution within multidisciplinary teams and how they develop their employability skills while working on a sustainable solution as part of an authentic assessment. The ‘pitch’ presentation will assess oral communication skills and the ability to summarise the salient points on PowerPoint slides. The short report (business proposal) will assess professional skills.

An alternative assessment will be set for any Semester 1 Study Abroad student taking this module, who will not be in Newcastle during the January assessment period.

Reading Lists