Surrey University Stag


Module code: ENGM265

Module Overview

Infrastructure systems play a crucial role towards sustainable development as they serve the needs of the society. An understanding of the three dimensions of sustainability, economic, environmental and social, is vital towards the planning, design and operation of sustainable infrastructure systems. This module evaluative frameworks that can capture economic, environmental and social constraints to understand the balance between these three dimensions towards the development of sustainable infrastructure projects. Particular focus is given to whole-life carbon accounting and life cycle assessment for 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. 

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: 107

Seminar Hours: 22

Captured Content: 21

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:


Introduction to Sustainable Development and Construction: Introduction to sustainable development concepts, models and awareness; Introduction to UN Sustainable Development Goals and UK Environment Plan; Overview of construction's impact/ contribution to sustainability pressures; Key sustainability themes in the built environment.

Delivering Sustainable Infrastructure: Process for delivering and managing innovation in sustainability; case study examples; Discussion of process stages; The importance of procurement in delivering sustainability; Brief overview of sustainability tools.

Low Carbon Infrastructure: Drivers and challenges for low carbon infrastructure; Low carbon infrastructure route map; Infrastructure carbon review; Whole-life infrastructure carbon, examples from different sectors; Carbon management frameworks; PAS 2080; Detailed overview of key building materials and associated sustainability and carbon credentials/considerations.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): Overview, definitions, life cycle stages; LCA framework; Goal and scope definition, inventory analysis, impact assessment, interpretation; Functional units, system boundaries; LCA tools, challenges; Infrastructure case studies.


Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA): MCDA methods; Steps in MCDA; Scoring and weighting criteria; Combination of scores and weights; Sensitivity analysis.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): Legislation, purpose/aim of EIA; Environmental impacts; Screening, scoping; Environmental Statement; Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) vs EIA.


This module is within the theme of Sustainability.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 30

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

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

  • their capacity to incorporate the concepts of sustainable development across the entire life-cycle of infrastructure systems and their ability to make use of sustainability frameworks for decision-making in infrastructure, including whole-life carbon accounting, life cycle assessment (LCA), multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) or environmental impact assessment (EIA)

  • the knowledge and understanding to critique the merits and drawbacks of sustainability frameworks and map, using case studies of infrastructure projects, the entire life-cycle stage activities with respect to these frameworks


  Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Coursework in the form of a report to assess critical evaluation of the different sustainability frameworks covered in the module and gain experience on the application of these frameworks on a real infrastructure case study.

  • 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. The former will offer a platform to facilitate engagement with distance-learning students from abroad, many of which having professional experience in various infrastructure sectors. Individual written and/or verbal feedback will be given on the coursework assignment.

Module aims

  • Equip students with the skills to incorporate the concepts of sustainable development in all life cycle stages of an infrastructure project.
  • Enable students to develop and assess, from a sustainability viewpoint, a series of options for infrastructure planning, development and operation. This includes the use of Whole-Life Carbon Accounting, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
  • Explore various infrastructure sectors from an environmental viewpoint and through the use of case studies spanning across the globe.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Discuss the wider impacts of infrastructure systems on sustainable economic, environmental and social dimensions and appreciate their interdisciplinary nature for their evaluation. K
002 Identify the range of environmental impacts across the whole-life of an infrastructure system and review the methods used for their assessment, including life cycle assessment, whole-life carbon accounting and environmental impact assessment. KC
003 Critique the drivers for sustainable development in infrastructure and understand the challenges associated with them. KCPT
004 Propose a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) framework for infrastructure decision-making. KCPT
005 Write reports that are well organised and synthesized and effectively critique different sustainability assessment frameworks. 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 a critical appreciation of the most important sustainability aspects, ranging between economic, environmental and social, that need to considered towards delivering sustainable infrastructure projects.

  • enable students to develop an understanding of the frameworks that can be used for sustainability assessment of infrastructure projects, including the merits and drawbacks, and be able to identify and propose appropriate sustainability appraisal methodologies for a variety of infrastructure projects/systems.


To achieve the above, the following learning and teaching methods will be used: lectures, seminars, guided learning, independent learning, and self-reflection. Specifically, 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 abroad), 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 core material 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: ENGM265

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, fostering a mutually supportive learning community.

Employability: Students are equipped with the knowledge to embed sustainability thinking across the entire life cycle of infrastructure projects and visiting speakers from industry will showcase applicability of the methods covered in real life projects, offering invaluable employability potential.

Global and Cultural Capabilities: Case studies ranging across the globe, covering both developed and developing countries, will be discussed throughout the module providing a strong appreciation of sustainability priorities in different countries/continents. Coverage of the social pillar of sustainability and how conflicting opinions from different stakeholders can be captured in decision-making will enhance cultural awareness in students. The latter will also be enhanced through facilitating online discussions via SurreyLearn with distance-learning students from abroad.

Sustainability: The module explores the UN Sustainable Development Goals and their relationship with infrastructure systems. Lectures review all three pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environmental) and allow students to think how these can be captured through the different frameworks covered (multi-criteria decision analysis, life-cycle assessment, environmental impact assessment).

Resourcefulness and Resilience: Students are supported to actively engage with in-class group discussions with industry speakers as well as through SurreyLearn discussion forums. Debates of real case studies via the industry speakers offer the opportunity to students to first contribute their opinions in-class, listen to other perspectives and adapt their thinking accordingly. They are required to research literature, select appropriate information independently, critique the work of others and offer alternative procedures for sustainability assessment. The choice of the nature of the case study offered in the coursework provides them with an opportunity for self-directed learning.


This knowledge gained in this module in terms of whole-life of infrastructure assets is complemented by ENGM266 which focuses on whole-life costs.

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
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 Compulsory 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

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.