MEASURING SUSTAINABILITY (ONLINE) - 2025/6

Module code: ECOM082

Module Overview

This module focuses on exploring different frameworks for measuring prosperity and sustainability, and their critique, on a national as well as organisational level. We will develop an understanding for sustainable development, green economy and circularity and explore their application in practice. The module enables students to interpret basic quantitative information about global sustainability and apply this information towards explaining and evaluating policy design from macroeconomic and microeconomic perspectives.

Module provider

SOL - Sustainability, Civil and Env Eng

Module Leader

FIORAMONTI Lorenzo (Sust & CEE)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 94

Tutorial Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 40

Captured Content: 10

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None

Module content

Indicative content includes:


  • Measurability problems: how to measure sustainability, different economics, social and environmental indicators, subjective measures vs. proxy indicators. 

  • Sustainability: how to measure sustainability and scoring systems at different levels (e.g., country-level; firm/organisation-level). 

  • Sustainability Metrics and Circularity: how sustainability metrics empower supply chain partners and consumers to make well-informed decisions and identifying externalities for these strategies.

  • Measurements of ecological footprint, Green Gross National Product (GGNP), Sustainable Economic Welfare (SEW), Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI). 

  • Overview of the 17 measures of the SDGs and their indicators, scores, methods and robustness.

  • Measures and indicators for poverty, malnutrition, good health and wellbeing, quality of education, inequality, innovation, carbon footprint and clean energy, quality of work, economic growth, productivity, infrastructure, natural capital, green spaces and quality of public facilities.

  • Application and quantitative analysis using the SDG dashboard and World Development Indicators to conduct regional and country level examination for different sustainable development indicators.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Individual written assignment 100

Alternative Assessment

None

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to:
The module summative assessment approach is devised in a way to enable students to practice on some of the measures for sustainable development and prosperity. Based on lectures, data sources and empirical studies, students will need to choose to focus on one indicator or group of indicators to conduct a quantitative study. The analysis could be based on time trends to examine progress of a country or group of countries for the 17 scores of the SDGs or could focus on some indicators for a specific SDG (e.g. poverty). Alternatively, students are given the choice to conduct a qualitative study on measuring prosperity where they would critically review different the literature on wellbeing, prosperity, sustainability, economic development and policy evaluations. 
This assignment is submitted at the end of the module and should be up to 2,500 words including a small abstract of 150 words and tables. References are not included in the word count.  The abstract should be able to state the quantitative findings and/or the main argument of the essay and the key results of the study. The introduction should clearly set the motivation and explain why the topic has been chosen and provide an overview of the overall structure of the study. The main body should clearly state the method for the applied analytical framework or empirical evidence and how the results compare to previous literature and research papers. For students applying qualitative approach, the main body should provide an overall review of the theory or framework to demonstrate their understanding. The discussion and conclusion section should summarise findings and key arguments and examine the limitations/shortcomings of the research. The assignments are marked after the module ends and returned to students withe formative feedback which will be useful preparation for the writing of the final Review Essay of the MSc programme. 
Formative assessment:
Students will be able to complete an online test at the end of each unit so as to gauge their level of knowledge.
Feedback: 
Written feedback on students’ formative assessment will be provided to help students address the summative assessment.

Module aims

  • To expose students to a variety of perspectives and approaches for measuring key themes for sustainable development and green economy across and within nations.
  • To understand the practicalities and limitations for measuring these elements and policy objectives.
  • To develop understanding for sustainability measurement systems, their advantages, weaknesses and challenges.
  • To practice cross-country comparisons across different indicators of sustainable development.
  • To understand the development of the final SDGs scores, as well as, investigate firm-level data for measures of sustainability and environmental performance.
  • To develop a general understanding for methods of measurements, and limitations of these approaches.
  • To encourage a critical approach by examining how 'sustainability' is used in different ways in different disciplines and contexts.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 The student will understand the measurement problems and different approaches for measuring policy objectives. KC
002 The student will have a good command of indicators for sustainable development and sustainability reporting. KCPT
003 The student will understand the key principles of assessing the sustainability of a project or company and the externalities. KCPT
004 The student will develop an understanding of the methods of measuring sustainability, human and natural capital, environmental quality, wellbeing and economic and social prosperity. KCPT
005 The student will become familiar with the key challenges for measuring the SDGs. KCPT
006 The student will be able to examine indicators used to establish the scores of SDG. KCPT
007 The student will be able to apply basic quantitative skills to establish time trends and cross-country comparisons for sustainable development. PT

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:
The module is constructed in an interdisciplinary way to engage students in the measurability problems for sustainability. Students are expected to be actively involved in applying different measures for prosperity and sustainable development. The module enables the students to delve into empirical literature from economics, public policy, sustainability and other domains of social science to scrutinise measurements and different methods for data collection and analysis and understand the limitations. The module is designed to give the students the chance to explore different data sources for sustainable development indicators and proxies for prosperity and wellbeing. This could be collected on national basis (e.g. UK Office for National Statistics) or an international level (e.g., the SDG dashboard, World Development Indicators. The module also enables students to reflect on how successful these methods and measures in practice and their true depiction of the pace of progress in attaining prosperity for all populations and future generations are.
The learning and teaching methods include: 


  • Lecture slides and reading list on CANVAS.

  • Rubrix and assessment guidelines.

  • Links for data sources and other relevant policy evidence.

  • Group discussions and presentations.


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: ECOM082

Other information

The Institute for Sustainability’s Sustainable Development in Practice 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 – The students will use digital resources and digital systems to acquire and assess information on companies and their performance. 
Employability – The students will acquire specialist as well as transferable skills that are increasingly important in nowadays world.
Sustainability – The students will gain a deeper understanding of sustainability dimensions and how to asses an organisations performance in those dimensions. 
Global and Cultural capabilities: by the nature of the module, students are exposed to different global and cultural contexts surrounding concepts and measurements of sustainability. 
Resourcefulness and Resilience: in tacking the assignment students will have to come up with their own comparative study, collect and analyse evidence with support from the module leaders, find their own primary sources and academic literature beyond the prescribed readings and circumvent obstacles in the research process.
Sustainability: by the nature of this module, students engage in a deep dive into the world of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) hence, sustainability as a concept and approach is enshrined in each and every topic discussed in the module.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Sustainable Development in Practice (Online) MSc 1 Compulsory 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 2025/6 academic year.