Surrey University Stag


Module code: ENGM264

Module Overview

Infrastructure systems have become increasingly complex and interconnected which results in strong interdependencies between them. These systems may become fragile and subject to disruptions that can have significant consequences both in the local as well as national and global level. This module forms the foundation required for systems thinking in infrastructure by introducing the background required for modelling the interconnected nature of infrastructure systems and understanding the different types of interdependencies that exist between them. It also provides an overview of the different types of risks that need to be considered for assessing the resilience of infrastructure systems and discusses the different adaptation and mitigation options available for sustaining their continuous operation and preventing cascading failures.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader

IMAM Boulent (Sust & CEE)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: K420

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 108

Seminar Hours: 22

Captured Content: 20

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Introduction to Infrastructure Systems: Examples of catastrophes and lessons learnt; Definitions and terminology; Introduction to systems thinking

Infrastructure Sectors and Interdependencies: Overview of infrastructure sectors: transport, energy, water & waste, ICT; Systemic interdependencies; Critical Infrastructure; Definitions of criticality and performance

Infrastructure Resilience: Definitions of resilience; Challenges related to different users/operators; Risk, hazards, vulnerability; Risk assessment frameworks

Case studies: Selected case studies to demonstrate cascading failures on infrastructure systems from around the world

Systems Thinking in Infrastructure: Evolution of systems thinking; Systems methodologies; Systems thinking in the UK – examples; Analyses of interdependencies and cascading failures

Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation: Adaptation vs mitigation; Climate changes risks and impacts on infrastructure sectors; Extreme weather management

This module is within the threads of Sustainability and Health and Safety Risk Management.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 30
Examination Online ONLINE 4 HOUR (OPEN BOOK) EXAM 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

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

  • their understanding of systems thinking in infrastructure risk and resilience assessment providing examples from their own experience and culture

  • their understanding of the interdependencies across and between infrastructure sectors and the ability to propose ways of increasing resilience and mitigating risks; the coursework also assesses the ability of the students to review and critical appraise literature, think in an adaptive way, efficiently organise a report and communicate key information

  Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Coursework to synthesise information and data from the literature for critically evaluating the resilience of a real case study infrastructure system and propose mitigation/adaptation options against different types of hazards.

  • Exam covering topics from across the entire content delivered.

Formative assessment and feedback

Formative assessment will be through a range of self-study questions made available to the students and discussions in the weekly seminars and the discussion forums created in SurreyLearn on a weekly basis. Individual written and/or verbal feedback will be given on the coursework assignment.

Module aims

  • Introduce the terminology and definitions required for systems modelling of infrastructures and the assessment of their resilience.
  • Provide understanding into the resilience and risk assessment of infrastructure systems against different types of hazards and unanticipated conditions
  • Discuss the interdependent nature of infrastructure systems through the review of case studies from past infrastructure failures

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Discuss the different types of interdependencies that exist within and across different infrastructure sectors. KCPT
002 Assess the different types of hazards and risks that need to be considered during infrastructure systems analysis. KCPT
003 Synthesize and specify appropriate adaptation and mitigation actions to improve the resilience of infrastructure systems. CPT
004 Discuss the cross-sectoral challenges that exist within the complex nature of interconnected infrastructure systems. CT
005 Write reports that are well organised and effectively communicate all key information T

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:

  • enable students to develop an understanding of the interdependencies between infrastructure sectors and how to utilise a system-of-systems approach for infrastructure planning and management.

  • enable students to assess resilience of infrastructure systems against different hazards and critically evaluate the main factors that affect adaptation and mitigation efforts towards their sustainable operation and management.

To achieve the above, the following learning and teaching methods will be used: captured content, seminars, guided learning, independent learning, and self-reflection. Specifically, the captured content introduces new concepts and techniques, provide illustrative examples, discuss case studies from various infrastructure sectors and explore applications. In seminars, students will be encouraged to be active participants in group discussions (including distance-learning students from around the world through live-streaming) and make constructive contributions enabling them to develop as informed, confident and engaged independent learners and reinforce and apply the module content. Students are expected to extend their reading beyond the lectures and to make use of additional material provided to support each topic. Self-study questions developed for each topic will assist students towards reflective review in their independent learning and prompt them to think out of the box. Formative feedback will be provided to students during these interactive seminar sessions.




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: ENGM264

Other information

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

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.

Employability: Students are equipped with the knowledge to employ system-of-systems thinking in infrastructure planning and management, which is highly valuable for employers in the civil engineering industry.

Sustainability: Lectures cover climate change adaptation principles and how these are linked with resilience planning. Through the assessments students are asked to critique important attributes that assets owners and policy makers need to consider towards adapting to the effects of climate change in the long term.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: Students are promoted to actively engage with in-class group discussions as well as through SurreyLearn discussion forums sharing perspectives about real-life cases from their own cultural and professional backgrounds. They are required to research literature and judge the selection of appropriate information independently.


The systems thinking developed in this module can be utilised in considerations related to infrastructure asset management (ENGM266) and sustainability of infrastructure systems (ENGM265).

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Advanced Geotechnical Engineering MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MEng 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Structural Engineering MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MSc 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Infrastructure Engineering and Management MSc 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Bridge Engineering MSc 1 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 2024/5 academic year.