Surrey University Stag


Module code: ENGM064

Module Overview

This module provides an introduction to the core concepts, policy challenges and ethical issues in Sustainable Development. It is aimed at a wide range of students and provides a grounding in sustainability ideas and issues that is self-contained but also prepares students for getting the best from the complementary module on Sustainable Development Applications.

Module provider

Centre for Environment & Sustainability

Module Leader


Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: H220

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 120

Lecture Hours: 40

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • the nature of development

  • history of sustainable development ideas

  • the Brundtland Report

  • the Sustainability Equation

  • the Planetary Boundaries framework for SD

  • values and the ethical dimensions of sustainable development

  • social dimensions of SD and environmentalism

  • sustainable consumption challenges

  • SD and biodiversity

  • contested issues in defining and decision-making for SD

  • case studies in ethical and political controversies raised by SD

  • political economy of SD

  • critiques of SD

  • analysis of key texts and discussion of films offering case studies

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

For failed submissions, repeat of assignment using different subject selected from supplied list

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate analytical, critical thinking and writing skills and subject knowledge and interest. The assignments offer opportunities to write in different formats and lengths.

The pre- and post-module assignments are designed to build upon the topics covered in the module and give the students a chance to explore them in a context that they are especially interested in.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Pre-module individual critical review in blog format (maximum 1000 words) on an topic arising from pre-module readings (25%)

  • Post-module individual written assignment (maximum 3000 words) from a supplied list of essay topics (75%)

Formative assessment

Feedback from the pre-module assignment will help students with their post-module assignment.

Sessions at the start and end of the module will cover – in part – the module assignment. Students will submit their work via Surrey Learn.


Detailed feedback is given in the marking process, including suggestions on improvements in grammar, style and structure. 

Module aims

  • This course introduces the foundational concepts of Sustainable Development. The module will build on the introductory sessions already successfully offered in the current SD week. The aim is to provide a rich understanding of the history, politics, ethics and scientific foundations of SD that will inspire interest in deeper study. We also aim to equip students to discuss and research complex conceptual and practical challenges in the integration of SD ideas in organisations, policies and projects.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Understand the basic principles of sustainable development KC
2 Make sense of current arguments and debates on sustainable development KC
3 Understand the fundamental ethical and political issues raised by sustainable development challenges and concepts KCP
4 Understand and discuss major criticisms levelled at the idea of SD KCP
5 Engage in debates about the definition, analysis and prospects for realisation of sustainable development KCPT

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:

The module is designed to provide an introduction to sustainable development, including an awareness of fundamental issues arising in the evolution of the concept, such as its scientific and ethical dimensions, plus the political economy of SD, critiques of sustainability and international and national policies. The module is geared towards theory, history of SD and fundamental challenges that need to be understood and faced in applications of SD in practice. Guest speakers from the public, private and ‘Third’ sectors have been engaged to talk about some of the basic ethical, political and conceptual issues that they have dealt with in making sustainability a reality in their own organisations and projects.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • SurreyLearn-based pre-readings

  • Lectures from module team and various guest lecturers from the public, private and civil society sectors.

  • Films and follow-up discussions

  • Discussion groups based on particular challenges and dilemmas

  • Post course study linked to main assessment

35 hours contact time in the module week (Monday to Friday)

Pre-module work = 30 hours

Post-module assignment = 85 hours

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: ENGM064

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Corporate Environmental Management MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Environmental Strategy MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Sustainable Development MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

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.