Surrey University Stag

UNDERSTANDING SUSTAINABILITY: METHODS, TOOLS AND SKILLS 1 - 2023/4

Module code: ENG1099

Module Overview

This module introduces students to the concept of inter-disciplinarity and research methods used to understand human societies and their interaction with the environment. Via a series of sustainability related case studies, students are introduced to a range of research methods such as semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and participant and non-participant observation. Students can use research methods learnt in this module in subsequent modules and their dissertation for data gathering and data analysis.

 

In addition to learning about and applying a range of research methods in this module, students are introduced to the broader process of planning and conducting research, and the issues which need to be considered when planning data collection for research. This includes consideration of research ethics when doing field work and data collection to ensure the welfare of research subjects. It also includes consideration of intercultural differences when planning and conducting social research to ensure that any data collected is representative of the wider population.  As part of digital skills development, students are taught the importance of adopting good data management practices in order to compile with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules.

 

Towards the end of the module the concept of interdisciplinarity, which was introduced at the start of the module, is reassessed as students consider the practical implications of working across disciplines, such as dealing with different disciplinary perspectives and epistemological frameworks, disciplinary-specific use of language, and the referencing systems used by different disciplines. As part of this focus on interdisciplinarity, students will be introduced to the concept of developing a learning and continuing professional development (CPD) portfolio. Students will be encouraged to start creating a CPD portfolio which can be continuously expanded and updated as they progress through the BSc degree and then during professional careers. This portfolio can include formative and summative assessments and short reflections on these assessments from across the spectrum of modules taken, as well as other learning activities, such as site visits, short training courses, workshops and conferences attended. After graduation this portfolio can continue to be updated and expanded to include all CPD and professional work activities and be used to demonstrate achieving the requirements for full membership of professional bodies such as the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment or the Institution of Environmental Sciences, and Chartered Environmentalist  or Chartered Scientist status.

Module provider

Centre for Environment & Sustainability

Module Leader

LIU Lirong (Civl Env Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

JACs code:

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 117

Lecture Hours: 11

Tutorial Hours: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

N/A

Module content

Interdisciplinarity and sustainability

Introduction to the research process

Potential benefits of employing mixed methodologies

Ethical issues in conducting fieldwork and data collection

Designing research and finding participants

Semi-structured interviewing

Focus groups

Managing and coding qualitative data

Analysing and interpreting data

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Group data analysis report 40
Coursework Research Report (1500 words) 60

Alternative Assessment

If a student is unable to work in a group they can deliver an individual presentation and an individual data analysis report.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate the collection, analysis and reporting of qualitative data.

 

The summative assessment for this module consists of:

Group data analysis report: Students present a data analysis report of data collected in groups.

Research Report: Students prepare a report based on the qualitative data collection, including critical reflection on the data collected and the collection process.

Formative assessment and feedback:

Students present a summary of a data collection exercise done in groups and receive formative feedback from the module convenor and their peers in other groups. Groups can then use this feedback when preparing their group data analysis report for submission as summative assessment.  Students can prepare a draft research report to discuss with the lecturer and receive verbal feedback on the planned structure.

 

Students will be encouraged to start compiling a learning and continuing professional development (CPD) portfolio made up of formative and summative assessments and their reflections on these assessments. Students can share a copy of their initial portfolios for review by lecturer and receive verbal feedback.

Module aims

  • Provide students with a basic understanding of a range of approaches to data collection and data analysis
  • To give students the opportunity to apply research methods by collecting data and analysing the data of one or more case study topics relating to sustainable development.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand how to formulate research questions CPT
002 Understand the differences between qualitative and quantitative research methods C
003 Be able to conduct a semi-structured interview CPT
004 Be able to analyse qualitative data (using thematic analysis) CPT
005 Be able to write a research report which incorporates qualitative data analysis CPT
006 Be able to work effectively in groups CPT
007 Recognise the challenges of interdisciplinary research and working CPT

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:
Develop students understanding of the research process and to develop basic research skills such as semi-structured interviewing and managing focus group. Methods of teaching and learning include captured content, lectures and seminars in which students can engage in small group discussion and practical exercises facilitated by the lecturer.


The learning and teaching methods include:
Lectures (11 hours), captured content (11 hours) and seminars (11 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

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENG1099

Other information

The Centre for Environment and Sustainability is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience, in line with the Surrey Curriculum Framework. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:

Sustainability: A range of sustainable development related case studies are analysed in this module as students learn to use different research methods and tools. Students begin to develop an appreciation of how different research methods may be applicable to different contexts when researching sustainability.

Global and cultural capabilities: Having intercultural awareness is critical when conducting research interviews and focus groups. The importance of being aware of intercultural differences when planning and conducting qualitative research is discussed in lectures.

Digital capabilities: Students are encouraged to consider the use of digital technologies when collecting research data. Issues relating to the use of digital tools when collecting data, such as the impact of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules on the use of such tools are discussed in class.   

Resourcefulness and resilience: In the individual research report, students are required to critically reflect on the quality of the data they collected and the collection process. This self-evaluation gives students the opportunity to reflect on own performance and that of their group.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Environment and Sustainability BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% 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 2023/4 academic year.