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NES2202 : Sustainable Solutions

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Elisa Lopez-Capel
  • Lecturer: Miss Katie Wray, Mrs Julia Robinson, Dr Amy Proctor, Dr Helen Adamson, Dr Femke van den Berg, Dr Toni Carruthers, Dr Ankush Prashar, Dr Mark Ireland, Dr Lee Higham, Mr Mike Burns, Dr Fabio Cucinotta
  • 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 period 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, 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) on what they will contribute to a team based challenge.
Project planning, management and the skills required for responsible innovation.

Challenge activities week

*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.

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

*Skills development on how to pitch ideas and how to write a company project report. Independent team based study.

*Development of ideas / case supported by meeting with the academic team and pitch practice.

*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
Company project report submission, group peer assessment, and self-reflection (Skills profile in line with the graduate framework and the UNESCO student key competencies for Sustainability.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion30:201:00Online - self-reflection project selection before and after challenge activities (formative)
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials42:008:00In person lectures supported by online content
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture12:002:00module talks by companies and academic experts
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion112:0012:00Online - group report (80% summative) following from challenge activities
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion18:008:00Online - group presentation (20% summative) during challenge activities
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading43:0012:00Online - module lecturer will give students relevant reading for module topics
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching22:004:00Placement and year abroad Talks
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops52:0010:00module workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery32:006:00drop-in tutorials to support self reflection and group report
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity371:0037:00Group 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 per group equivalent to 600 words per student. This is approximately 10 pages of A4 (excluding references and appendices).
Design/Creative proj1M20Video Presentation - 6min Pecha Kucha 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 assessmnt1MGroup contract (team members agreement of group project roles and responsibilities
Prof skill assessmnt1MCompany meeting on group sustainable solution proposal
Prof skill assessmnt1MSelf-reflection on skills development (survey after challenge)
Prof skill assessmnt1MProfessional Skills Assessment 5 - Peer-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 and sustainability while working on a 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 student taking this module, is not able to work in a group due to personal extenuating circumstances (PEC / SSP).

Reading Lists