Surrey University Stag


Module code: ENGM303

Module Overview

Nature Based Solutions (NBS) are defined by International Union for Conservation of Nature as actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, which address societal challenges (e.g., climate change, water security or natural disasters) effectively and adaptively, while simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

NBS are increasingly used as a more sustainable way of managing environments or environmental systems. NBS use nature¿s own resources (clean air, water, plants, and soil) to provide cost-effective environmental, social, and economic benefits and help build resilience. Such solutions bring more diverse nature and natural features and processes into existing networks and infrastructure systems including cities, landscapes, and coastal areas, through site specific, locally adapted, resource-efficient interventions. Engineers are working to restore natural buffering systems (e.g., wetlands and tree canopies), utilise green infrastructure, and better manage natural areas to restore riparian corridors, create resilient coastal ecosystems, manage flood risk, enhance water quality and waste treatment, improve air quality, mitigate climate change and more.

NBS are often seen as an alternative, more sustainable solution to hard engineered infrastructure
solution (by fulfilling multiple services and / by having fewer adverse characteristics). However, NBS
cannot be unilaterally implemented due to prevailing characteristics of the built and natural environments. The module will provide the knowledge and skills needed to explore, critically assess, and evaluate the ¿why¿, ¿how¿ and utility of NBS to protect, manage and restore ecosystems vulnerable to societal and environmental challenges. An important part of the module will be to critically assess, compare, and determine the feasibility of different solutions drawn from literature and case studies where NBS have been successful implemented. .The module will draw on the desire of communities to live in green spaces and explore options for engineers to design and integrate facilities within ecosystems in a way that benefits ecological and human health. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of NBS, the module will explore different environments (air, water, coastal, rural, and urban) ensuring the interaction between different research disciplines such as coastal management, wastewater treatment, air quality, material and infrastructure, and urban management.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader

POND Katherine (Sust & CEE)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code:

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Seminar Hours: 22

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

- Societal and environmental drivers that inform the demand for NBS on the environment (coastal/water/air/urban)

- Ecosystem services: how does nature deliver value to society

- Existing practice of NBS in different sectors: coastal restoration, water treatment, flood management, air quality, liveable urban environment.

- Frameworks for evaluating NBS

- Adaptation and resilience of the environment to societal challenges

- Nature-based improvements versus traditional engineered solutions

- Co-benefits of successful management (tie back to sustainability targets)

- Challenges of nature-based solutions in each environment

The content will be supported by case studies.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Poster presentation 25
Online Scheduled Summative Class Test Online class test (1 Hour) 25
Coursework Mini research project 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

1. An understanding of the anthropogenic and climate-induced impacts on natural resources, human

health, and the built environment.

2. An understanding of the co-benefits for people and nature when using nature-based solutions

3. Knowledge of the challenges and limitations of nature-based solutions

4. An awareness of, and ability to critically appraise the variety of nature-based solutions available

as part of environmental management VS traditional engineered options.

Unit of assessment 1: Poster presentation: Compare the advantages and disadvantages of a nature-based option to the traditional engineering intervention for solving a case study problem,
l considering cost, reliability, sustainability, and co-benefits (25%)

Unit of assessment 2: Online class test: This will consist of short answer/multiple choice questions covering the content of the module (25%)

Unit of assessment 3: Mini research project (3000 word): ¿ Development of a case study of a nature-based solution for a stated environment ¿ water/air/built environment. (50%)

Students will be expected to gather secondary data to support a case study which will demonstrate
their knowledge regarding nature-based solutions in comparison with traditional engineering solutions, writing, analytical and referencing skills.

Formative assessment will be through a range of exercises such as self-assessment quizzes and class discussion in seminars and on SurreyLearn. Feedback Individual written and/or verbal feedback will be given on assignments and class exercises.

Module aims

  • Introduce and develop an appreciation of the concepts of Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital, its use in practice, and limitations.
  • Review the concept of Sustainability with reference to the challenges that NBS address and the additional (co-) benefits that they entail
  • Develop an appreciation of the range and role of NBS in environmental engineering.
  • Evaluate the infrastructure / environmental need for an intervention, and the impact on the wider environment.
  • Develop the skill of a holistic analysis that compares NBS and traditional approaches for a specific domain.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 To evaluate the anthropogenic and climate-induced impacts on natural resources (water and air), human health and the urban environment KT
002 To critically appraise the co-benefits for people and nature when using NBS to environmental engineering in a variety of environments CKT
003 To critically appraise the challenges and limitations of NBS to environmental engineering in a variety of environments CKT
004 To assess and present, opinions and findings associated with the critical analysis of NBS available as part of environmental engineering VS hard engineered options CKPT

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:

1. Understand the need and potential for NBS in different environments

2. Design and plan NBS for specific cases

3. Critically evaluate NBS

A total of 22 hours contact hours in the form of seminars will be provided including class
activities ¿ discussions/review of papers/presentations/class tests. Indicated contact hours are approximate.

A total of 106 hours independent study is expected in the form of researching topics and
undertaking tasks (assessed and not assessed) set in the additional notes and assignment

A total of around 22 hours of guided learning in the form of reading additional provided notes and listening to recorded lectures (both 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: ENGM303

Other information

The primary JBM threads for this module include: Sustainability and Health; and this module covers Professionalism and Ethics as a contributory thread. University of Surrey Curriculum Framework pillars covered by this module: Sustainability ¿ sustainability is at the core of this module which focuses on the requirements and attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Employability ¿ the subjects covered in this module provide a background for students planning to work in the environmental sector in any capacity. Professional skills, including presenting information and critical thinking are included. Resourcefulness and resilience ¿ Students are encouraged to actively engage with in-class group discussions. They are required to research literature and judge the selection of appropriate information independently. Global and cultural intelligence ¿ case studies will support theory and will be given from both low- and high-income countries throughout this module to give insights into how nature can be used to address societal challenges through sustainable management. Digital capabilities: As with all MSc modules, students are expected to engage with online material and resources via SurreyLearn and encouraged to communicate with one another through the discussion forums created and the self-study questions that have been developed for them. Links to other modules: This module will link to content of a number of other modules offered in our MSc programmes but there will be no requirement to have studied these modules. Examples include: ENGM289 Global Challenges in Water and Health which looks at the public health implications of poor water quality, both microbiological and chemical as well as societal and environmental impacts such as urbanization, climate change, flooding and drought. Nature-based solutions can improve water quality as well as public and ecosystem health. Nature based solutions can be implemented to improve public health from other forms of pollution including air pollution and to improve mental health and physical health. ENGM036 Wastewater Treatment and Sewerage. The treatment of water is fundamental to improving health. ENGM036 gives students an in-depth knowledge of the traditional techniques used to treat wastewater. Nature-based solutions to these challenges include using microbial communities to treat wastewater. ENGM057 Water Resource Management and Hydraulic modelling provide students with an overview of the rationale and importance of integrated water resources management to effectively manage some of the climate challenges being faced by communities around the globe. There are many examples of implementation of nature based solutions to allow us to adapt to climate change . ENGM285 GIS and Remote Sensing: GIS and RS are used in a wide range of disciplines including hydrology, natural resource management and climate change. This module introduces the theoretical foundations and techniques to support decision making in identifying suitable interventions such as nature based options ENGM265 Sustainability and Infrastructure provides knowledge of assessing the environmental impact of infrastructure systems and multi-criteria decision analysis and environmental/social impact assessments, capable of capturing the three pillars of sustainability for holistic decision-making within the context of infrastructure. Nature based solutions can extend the lifespan of buildings and infrastructure as well as adapt to impacts of climate change.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Water and Environmental Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Bridge Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Advanced Geotechnical Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Structural Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Infrastructure Engineering and Management MSc 2 Optional 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 2023/4 academic year.