Module code: ENG1093

Module Overview

This module introduces students to global environmental change from a systems perspective. It brings together physical science and social science perspectives to analyse the dynamic interactions of the Earth’s integrated systems – the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. It introduces students to the concept of a “safe operating space” for humanity.

This module is taught on an intensive basis, with classes running over a three / four week period. This intensive teaching format facilitates deep learning by allowing the student to focus on the module content.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader

HARRIS Zoe (Sust & CEE)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 107

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

  • System dynamics and the non-linear systems

  • The atmospheric system

  • The ocean circulation system and the cryosphere

  • The lithosphere

  • Biogeochemical cycles

  • The biosphere

  • Biodiversity through time

  • Environmental limits and the Anthropocene

  • Climate science and climate change

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework System dynamics analysis 40
Coursework Case study report 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of earth system science by preparing reports on two different earth system case studies.


The summative assessment for this module consists of:
- System dynamics analysis (1,000 words) – 40%

- Case study report  (1,500 words) – 60%

Formative assessment and feedback:

Students receive verbal feedback during lectures. For example, there are multiple choice tests which allow students to test their understanding of the lecture content, with discussion and clarification of the answers to the questions in class. There are also weekly seminar sessions during which key challenges stemming from earth systems and global environmental change will be discussed. Students will receive feedback on their understanding of module content in these sessions from their peers and instructor.

Module aims

  • To introduce students to basic earth system science and explore processes of global environmental change
  • To examine human impacts on earth systems
  • To examine the earth system impacts on human societies

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand how earth systems function and interact CK
002 Understand the dynamic nature of the natural environment KC
003 Understand how humans impact upon earth systems at a planetary scale KC
004 Understand how environmental change impacts on human societies KC
005 Be able to analyse simple human-environment interactions 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 help students develop a basic understanding of earth system science and human-environment interactions.


The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures and class discussions (11 hours)

  • Captured content (11 hours)

  • Seminars (11 hours)

Captured content and live lectures will introduce core topics and theories about earth systems. There will be some scope to discuss these core topics and theories in the lectures. The seminars will encourage deeper engagement with the content presented in lectures by allowing students to explore practical case study examples and consider the broader implications of different aspects of earth system sciences.

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: ENG1093

Other information

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

Sustainability: The functioning of the earth’s systems underpins a healthy environment upon which the economy and society depends. This module provides students with an overview of the earth’s systems which underpin human systems and sustainable development. In the seminar sessions students get to explore the challenges posed on the economy and society by environmental change.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Environment and Sustainability BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% 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.