Surrey University Stag

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - 2023/4

Module code: PSYM067

Module Overview

This module introduces students to psychological perspectives on understanding and addressing environmental and sustainability challenges. The module provides an overview of theoretical formulations and research evidence related to 1) people’s understandings and perceptions of environmental risks, 2) environmental and materialistic values, 3) environment and wellbeing, and 4) pro-environmental behaviour change. The module is based on the research-practitioner model and aims to enable students to develop an understanding of how psychological research can help tackle environmental challenges by drawing on empirical research evidence. By the end of the module students should have an advanced understanding of some of the principles and theoretical and methodological developments in the area, and understand the value of this knowledge for helping to tackle environmental challenges.

Module provider

Psychology

Module Leader

GATERSLEBEN Birgitta (Psychology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: C800

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 11

Independent Learning Hours: 96

Seminar Hours: 11

Tutorial Hours: 10

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None.

Module content


  • Social barriers and motivations for pro-environmental behaviour (e.g., Social dilemma paradigm, Theory of Planned Behavior, Norm Activation Model).

  • Public perceptions of environmental problems (Knowledge, Values and attitudes, Risk perception – public perceptions of climate change, the role of social and symbolic aspects, Are people rational thinkers?).

  • Pro-environmental behaviour change (e.g., persuasive communication, social Influence).

  • Consumption, environment and wellbeing (materialism, consumerism, natural environments and wellbeing).


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Oral exam or presentation GROUP REPORT AND PRESENTATION 25
Coursework ESSAY 75

Alternative Assessment

In case a student cannot participate in the Assessment 1 group presentation on the day (due to approved ECs), they will be required to provide written/recorded evidence of their contribution to the presentation development (e.g., voiceover on PowerPoint slides).

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to design evidence based interventions for the promotion of sustainable behaviours and critically assess the theories and empirical evidence in psychology that addresses sustainable and unsustainable consumer behaviours.

Assessment 1: Poster presentations – propose an evidence based pro-environmental behaviour change intervention


  • Their knowledge of environmental psychology theories and research evidence

  • Their ability to consider the practical impact of research

  • Their ability to formulate a coherent argument for an academic and non-academic audience

  • Their understanding of the ways in which psychological theory and research evidence can help address sustainability challenges



Assessment 2: Individual essay


  • Their knowledge of environmental psychology theories, methods and research evidence

  • Their ability to critically evaluate the quantity and quality of evidence in psychology

  • Their ability to provide practical solutions to environmental problems based on environmental psychology theories and evidence



The assessments will also allow students to demonstrate key employability skills, specifically their ability to present clear, coherent and concise arguments to an audience. The presentation assesses students ability to present a persuasive, evidence-based verbal argument; to integrate theory with evidence in a practical context; and to work in a group with peers. The coursework essay enables students to present a critical, evidence-based argument in writing and to work independently.

Students will be given formative feedback in class throughout the module, in particular via the in-class exercises and discussions. In particular students will be asked to bring a poster to the first session of the module (pre-module homework) presenting a critical evaluation of an existing pro-environmental behaviour change intervention.

Module aims

  • Provide students with an understanding of the theories and research evidence in psychology that help contribute to understanding and changing individual sustainable perceptions, values and behaviours.
  • Enable students to critically reflect on the the relationship between environmental quality and human wellbeing based on psychological theory and evidence.
  • Provide students with the ability to develop evidence-based interventions for the promotion of sustainable lifestyles and behaviours.
  • Support students in developing critical thinking and evidence-based arguments

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Provide practical solutions to environmental problems drawing on environmental psychology theories and evidence KCPT
002 Critically evaluate the quantity and quality of evidence in psychology KCPT
003 Demonstrate an awareness of environmental psychology theories, methods and research evidence in the area of environmental sustainability KCPT
004 Able to consider the practical impact of research KCPT
005 Able to conduct research and consultancy work on environment-behaviour issues as a practitioner KCPT
006 Formulate a coherent argument for an academic and non-academic audience KCPT
007 Consider the practical implications of research 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:


  • Familiarise students with environmental psychology theory and evidence with respect to environmental sustainability challenges

  • Provide students with the foundational knowledge to enable them to describe key theories in environmental psychology

  • Support students in developing the critical thinking skills to evaluate different theoretical perspectives and evidence

  • Provide students with the resourcefulness to critically discuss the implications of key findings relating to environmental psychology as related to wellbeing and sustainability challenges

  • Provide students with a foundational understanding of key psychological research methods used within the field.

  • Enable students to develop, demonstrate and apply communication skills through presentation and writing



The learning and teaching methods include:


  • A series of pre-recorded lectures to provide students with insight into the key concepts and theories in the field

  • Speaker seminars to provide up to date, in depth knowledge and understanding

  • In-class discussions and workshops to enable students to critically reflect on the role of theory and evidence in developing practical interventions

  • In-class discussions to challenge existing ideas and develop an understanding and appreciation of the complex relationships between human wellbeing and global environmental challenges

  • In class discussions encouraging students to reflect on their own behaviour and sustainability practices.

  • (Poster) presentations to enable development of clear and coherent arguments for a broad audience.


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: PSYM067

Other information

In line with Surrey’s Curriculum Framework, we are committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module contributes to these five pillars in the following ways:’

Employability: The course adopts a research practitioner model and aims to provide students with the skills and abilities to develop evidence-based solutions to practical problems.

Global and Cultural Capabilities: Students will be encouraged to reflect on global environmental and social problems from a psychological perspective. This includes reflections on the relationship between global and social inequalities, health and wellbeing and environmental degradation.

Sustainability: The module focuses on gaining an understanding on how psychological theory and research evidence can be relevant for understanding and tackling sustainability issues. Students will be encouraged to reflect on these questions, not only as a global problem but also within their own every-day practices.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: Students will be challenged to apply their learning to address real and every-day challenges. They will be working together in groups and with students from different disciplines to challenge their thinking and find resourceful ways to collaborate and develop solutions to challenging problems.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Environmental Psychology MSc 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Social Psychology MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Corporate Environmental Management MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Environmental Strategy MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Sustainable Development 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.