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NES1201 : Introduction to Sustainability

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Yit Arn Teh
  • Co-Module Leader: Professor Neil Boonham, Dr Mark Ireland
  • Lecturer: Dr Geoffrey Abbott, Professor Guy Garrod, Dr Fritha Langford, Dr Sarah Coulthard, Dr Catherine Douglas, Mr Simon Parker
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The module aims to:
• Introduce the concept of sustainable natural resource management, including economic, policy,
environmental and ethical perspectives.
• Outline key societal and environmental challenges facing natural resource management today,
framed within the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
• Explore potential opportunities and solutions for these key environmental and sustainability
challenges, including a discussion of wider benefits and trade-offs of new policies, innovations
or management practices.
• Enable students to develop an understanding of how their specific discipline fits into the
wider UK and global picture of sustainable natural resource management, and develop a ‘common
language’ between different degree disciplines.
• Provide the theoretical foundations and concepts of sustainable natural resource management in order for students to apply this knowledge in the linked modules: Sustainability in Practice (NES1100) and Academic and Professional Skills (NES1200).

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will focus on four Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are aligned with research strengths across the School. These are Life on Land; Zero Hunger; Life Below Water; Responsible Consumption and Production. Several other SDGs are cross-cutting and will be referenced throughout the module, including but not limited to Climate Action, No Poverty, Good Health and Wellbeing and Gender Equality.

Under each of the four SDG themes students will explore:

•       How the world works
•       How we extract a living from the planet
•       How human activities impact society and the functioning of the Earth system
•       Solutions for the environmental problems derived from human activities

The syllabus will be delivered in conjunction with the associated modules NES1200 Academic and Professional Skills and NES1100 Sustainability in Practice, with the same SDG themes and key transferable skills being explored through interdisciplinary collaboration and detailed case studies.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials201:0020:00Asynchronous online content supplementing PiP lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00PiP lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion52:0010:00Preparation for and completion of Sem 2 MCQ test
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion52:0010:00Preparation for and completion of Sem 1 MCQ test
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion190:0090:00Production of executive summary on a key sustainability challenge
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading202:3050:00Weekly reading of book chapters, articles and online materials
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students will be introduced to fundamental concepts and ideas in sustainable development and natural resource management through the PiP lectures and asynchronous learning materials (e.g. reading, videos, online resources). The subject content will be delivered in four-week cycles under each SDG theme, consisting of PiP lectures. The PiP and asynchronous learning material will enable students to learn about key concepts and underlying principles (e.g. natural capital, ecosystem services, global biogeochemical cycles and planetary boundaries), and explore how social and historical factors, economics, policy, ethics and beliefs have led to climate change, environmental degradation and resultant social problems and inequalities. They will also learn about potential solutions for some of the major environmental challenges facing society today, including discussions of potential costs, benefits and trade-offs associated with these solutions.
Examples and case studies will present a range of perspectives, from individual to global, and will explore new opportunities for sustainable development into the future. Students will be able to deepen and consolidate their knowledge and understanding through guided independent study (e.g. reading, assessment preparation). In addition, the coordinated problem-based learning activities delivered in the linked module; Sustainability in Practice (NES1100) will further operationalise the theoretical knowledge and understanding that they have gained in this module. The final summative assessment (i.e. the executive summary) will allow students to reflect on the importance of inter-, multi- and trans-disciplinary approaches to environmental problem-solving, and encourage them to consider the role of their degree discipline in addressing the UN SDGs.

Assessment Methods

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

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Digital Examination601A30Multiple Choice Questions or Multiple Answer Questions to consolidate and test knowledge and understanding of key concepts and information
Digital Examination602A30Multiple Choice Questions or Multiple Answer Questions to consolidate and test knowledge and understanding of key concepts and information
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2A40Group executive summary on a key sustainability challenge (1000 words). Includes a peer assessed element with a +/- grade adjustment factor.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt2MGroup updates of executive summary concept and outline plan
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The Digital Exams will enable students to consolidate their knowledge and demonstrate their understanding of key theories and concepts.

The Written Exercise, a group executive summary, will enable students to operationalise their knowledge and demonstrate the higher-order skills which they have developed in this module. For example, the ability to assess and analyse information, summarise and synthesise information from wide ranging sources, communicate complex information and concepts effectively, and evaluate the potential costs, benefits and trade-offs of potential sustainability solutions.

The formative assessment gives students the opportunity to receive feedback on the group's executive summary concept and outline prior to finalising this for submission.

Reading Lists