Module code: ENGL001

Module Overview

Sustainability is an extremely broad topic area, covering issues ranging from biodiversity, food, and energy to matters such as legal, regulatory and corporate management, and also encompassing social aspects, such as how we can change behaviours.

This module covers key aspects to give students a wide overview of the cross-disciplinary challenges of sustainability and how we may communicate such issues. The coherency of the course is achieved by considering how each issue may affect a case study family.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader

HARRIS Zoe (Sust & CEE)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: Global Graduate Award

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Seminar Hours: 19

Guided Learning: 6

Captured Content: 19

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

This course provides students with insights into a wide range of issues that are encompassed within sustainability. These are often thought of as the “three pillars” of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social issues.

  • Environmental issues include the problems of climate change and biodiversity loss, and resource management including water, food and energy provision.

  • Economic issues include how economic instruments such as taxes and subsidies can be used to encourage more sustainable practices, the dilemma of economic growth, and how and why companies engage in corporate social responsibility.

  • Social issues include the sociology and psychology of sustainability, and sustainable tourism - through these, students are introduced to how individuals, and society as a whole, might move towards more sustainable behaviours.


Topics are introduced by specialists, and the disparate themes are integrated by illustrating how each one affects a case study family. At the beginning of the course the basic details of the case study family, such as where they live, the number of children, the jobs that their parents do, and so on, are given.

To bring this case study to life, the family members are given names – and even their pets are introduced! Students are encouraged to discuss how each topic might affect different aspects of the family.

Understanding key concepts around sustainability forms the foundation of this course, but we inspire students to go beyond this and consider how these topics are effectively communicated. Students are given training in creative communication techniques such as making videos, audio podcasts, and social media campaigns. Students use these skills to create a piece of science communication as part of a group work project.



Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Online Scheduled Summative Class Test Mini-quiz 1 20
Online Scheduled Summative Class Test Mini-quiz 2 20
Online Scheduled Summative Class Test Mini-quiz 3 20
Coursework Group Project Work 40

Alternative Assessment

Alternative assessment to replace the Group Project Work: An individual poster communicating an aspect of sustainability from the course

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have understood the concepts of sustainability that they have been introduced to, and that they are able to communicate these issues in an innovative and impactful manner.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Three mini-quizzes consisting of 8-12 multiple choice questions each which cover content and topics from previous taught sessions. Students will have an initial formative quiz to allow them to practice and get feedback, before undertaking this summative assessment.

    • Students must complete and pass all quizzes that are set to progress to the group work portion of the assessment

    • Students must get at least 40% on each quiz to pass

  • Group work project: A piece of science communication which shares some of the knowledge learnt on the course with a wider audience. Students will be given sessions on science communication and are able to choose the format of their communication piece, e.g. poster, documentary film, podcast, social media campaign, policy brief, children’s story book etc. A short reflective statement on the work is also required

    • The Group Project Work is to be submitted before commencement of summer examinations. Each student will have the opportunity to provide a rating assessing the contribution of each member of their group: this rating will be used to weight the individual marks awarded to each member of the group.

Formative assessment and feedback

An Online Scheduled Summative Class Test will be set covering topics from the first few sessions, to allow students to practice and get feedback. This quiz will not count towards the final grade but will give students the opportunity to become familiar with the mini-quiz format and test their learning on the initial sessions of the module.
Discussion sessions are provided after each lecture. These provide an opportunity for the lecturer to give formative feedback. Additionally, a discussion forum is provided on SurreyLearn through which students can discuss issues and exchange ideas.

Module aims

  • This module aims to give students from a wide variety of backgrounds an appreciation and understanding of sustainability issues, and experience in creatively communicating issue(s) around sustainability.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Explain and apply the concept of sustainability and breadth of issues it encompasses K
002 Explain and discuss how sustainability underpins every aspect of the economy and people's lives KT
003 Critically discuss and apply sustainability concepts to case study examples CP
004 To gain experience of communicating issues of sustainability using digital media and social media 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:

  • Familiarise students with the concept of sustainability.

  • Introduce students to a broad range of areas to which it can be applied.

  • Expose students to the multi-faceted arguments and inherent complexity of the issues involved.

  • Give students the opportunity to critically discuss the issues raised in a multi-disciplinary environment. This will be done in lectures and also in group work.

  • To test that students have understood and can apply what they have learnt through mini-quizzes.

  • To introduce students to different ways of communicating complex issues using digital and social media

  • Allow students to design a creative communications piece

  • To give the students experience of working in groups.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures delivered by specialists from throughout the university and beyond.

  • Combinations of lectures, discussions and exercises.

  • Group work, through which students will gain experience in discussing issues, and putting forward the particular perspectives that arise from their various academic and cultural backgrounds.

  • Classes take place on Wednesday afternoons during both semesters

  • Reading and other relevant materials are made available on SurreyLearn.

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: ENGL001

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.