Module code: ENGL001

Module Overview

Sustainability is an extremely broad area, covering issues from, for example, biodiversity, food, and energy, to matters such as legal, regulatory and corporate management, and also encompassing social aspects, such how we can change behaviours. The module covers key aspects to give students a wide overview of the cross-disciplinary challenges of sustainability. The coherency of the course is achieved by considering how each issue may affect a case study family.  Students also gain experience of communicating issues of sustainability through making a video.

Module provider

Centre for Environment & Sustainability

Module Leader


Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: Global Graduate Award

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 120

Lecture Hours: 30

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

The course provides students with insights into a wide range of issues that are encompassed within sustainability. These are often thought of as the “three pillars” of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social issues.

  • Environmental issues include the problems of climate change and biodiversity loss, and resource management including water, food and energy provision.

  • Economic issues include how economic instruments such as taxes and subsidies can be used to encourage more sustainable practices, the dilemma of economic growth, and how and why companies engage in corporate social responsibility.

  • Social issues include the sociology and psychology of sustainability, and sustainable tourism - through these, students are introduced to how individuals, and society as a whole, might move towards more sustainable behaviours.


Topics are introduced by specialists, and the disparate themes are integrated by illustrating how each one affects a case study family. At the beginning of the course the basic details of the case study family, such as where they live, the number of children, the jobs that their parents do, and so on, are given. To bring this case study to life, the family members are given names – and even their pets are introduced! Students are encouraged to discuss how each topic might affect different aspects of the family.

Students also gain experience of communicating issues of sustainability through watching and discussing a selection of films/videos and making their own group video.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework GROUP VIDEO 30

Alternative Assessment

Alternative assessment to replace the Individual Assignment: A report concerning how sustainability issues effect the case study family (3,000 words). Alternative assessment to replace the Group Video: A video (maximum 2 minutes) that communicates one or more aspects of sustainability.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have understood the concepts of sustainability that they have been introduced to, and that they are able to convey the arguments in a concise manner.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:


- Individual assignment: Students are required to submit 10 short pieces of work over the duration of the module. The course consists of 16 lecture sessions, and students only need write short pieces of work for 10 of these. Of the 10 short pieces of work, only 2 will be marked, and the students will not know in advance which weeks’ piece of work will be selected for marking.
Students who do not submit all 10 short pieces of work will get a mark of zero for the Individual Assignment, and will not be put into groups for the Group Video. 

- Group project work: A video (maximum 3 minutes) that communicates one or more aspects of sustainability. Group work is to be submitted before commencement of summer examinations. Each student will have the opportunity to provide a rating assessing the contribution of each member of their group: this rating will be used to weight the individual marks awarded to each member of the group.


Formative assessment and feedback

The presenter of each session is encouraged to make the session as interactive as possible by asking questions both during the lecture and afterwards. This gives an opportunity for the lecturer to give formative feedback. Additionally, a discussion forum is provided on SurreyLearn through which students can discuss issues and exchange ideas.


Module aims

  • This module aims to give undergraduate students from a wide variety of backgrounds an appreciation and understanding of sustainability issues, and experience in communicating issues.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Explain and apply the concept of sustainability and breadth of issues it encompasses K
002 Explain and discuss how sustainability underpins every aspect of the economy and people's lives KT
003 Critically discuss and apply sustainability concepts to case study examples CP
004 To gain experience of communicating issues of sustainability using digital media, such as through making a video PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Familiarise students with the concept of sustainability

  • Introduce students to a broad range of areas to which it can be applied

  • Expose students to the multi-faceted arguments and inherent complexity of the issues involved

  • Give students the opportunity to critically discuss the issues raised in a multi-disciplinary environment. This will be done in lectures and also in group work.

  • To test that students have understood and can apply what they have learnt through written, assessed work.

  • To test that students can communicate their ideas through making a video.

  • To give the students experience of working in groups.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • lectures delivered by specialists from throughout the university and beyond

  • combinations of lectures, classroom discussions and exercises

  • group work, through which students will gain experience in discussing issues, and putting forward the particular perspectives that arise from their various academic and cultural backgrounds

  • sessions are for 1.5 hours on Wednesday afternoons during both semesters: 16 topic lectures and 4 film/video related sessions

  • reading and other relevant materials are made available on SurreyLearn

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENGL001

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.