Module code: ENGM318

Module Overview

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously benefiting people and nature.” (International Union for Conservation of Nature). 
They are advocated as a more sustainable way of managing environments or environmental systems and have been implemented today in a variety of settings from cities to rural and coastal areas to address urgent societal challenges (e.g., climate change, water security, air pollution, wastewater treatment, food security or natural disasters) effectively and adaptively, while simultaneously providing co-benefits and improving resilience.
Through a series of recorded lectures, seminars and captured content, this module will provide students with an introduction to the scientific principles and practice of nature-based solutions, their implementation criteria and role in different modern contexts, with particular emphasis to sustainability and policies.
The module will explore different environments (air, water, coastal, rural, and urban) through case studies and literature ensuring students are aware of the multidisciplinary nature of NbS. Students will critically assess, compare, and determine the feasibility of different published case studies where NbS have been successful implemented.

Module provider

SOL - Sustainability, Civil and Env Eng

Module Leader

GUIDA Raffaella (CS & EE)

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


Module content

Indicative content includes the following:

  • Definition of Nature-based solutions according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

  • Scientific principles of Nature-based solutions (Conservation, synergies, context, transparency, diversity, scale, trade-offs, policy integration).

  • Criteria for practical implementation of Nature-based Solutions (IUCN Global Standard for the verification, design and scaling up of Nature-based Solutions; the 8-criteria guidance and effectiveness indicators).

  • Benefits and drawbacks of nature-based solutions at different scales. Ecosystem services: how does nature deliver value to society.

  • Examples of Nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation, coastal development, rapid urbanization and disaster risk reduction. Successful and controversial implementations. Evaluation of nature-based improvements versus traditional solutions.

  • The role of Nature-based solutions in the Sustainability Agenda. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  • Policies for Nature-based solutions. 

  • Integration of Nature-based solutions in development strategies and sectoral regulatory frameworks. Approaches and tools.

  • Case study 1 Design – Green roofs for reduction of urban heat islands formation.

  • Case study 2 Implementation - Coastal Nature-based solutions in Small Island Development States.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination Online MR Test 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to:
Provide the student with an opportunity to demonstrate the following:

  • A basic knowledge of theoretical principles and criteria for practical implementation of nature-based solutions, assessed through examination;

  • A good understanding of those principles and criteria assessed through examination;

  • A good capability of analyzing specific challenges, with their corresponding environmental, societal and economic characteristics, and suggesting a mitigation action relevant to nature-based solutions, assessed through examination.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of the following:

  • Online examination based on multiple-choice quiz and short answer questions.

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.
Written feedback on students’ formative assessment will be provided to help students address the summative assessment.

Module aims

  • Introduce the student to the science of nature-based solutions and the guiding principles for their practical implementation with particular emphasis to the context of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Review climate and anthropogenic impacts on the natural and built environments, human health and biodiversity.
  • Present the student with examples of nature-based solutions in different challenging contexts, from climate change to rapid urbanization.
  • Present the student with approaches and criteria for the successful integration of nature-based solutions into development strategies, regulatory frameworks and policies for sustainability.
  • Evaluate the importance of inclusivity in NbS to ensure sustainability in a variety of settings.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 The student will understand the scientific principles of nature-based solutions. KC
002 The student will understand the best practices for the implementation of nature-based solutions. KC
003 The student will be able to analyze different approaches for the integration of nature-based solutions into policies. KCPT
004 The student will be be capable of suggesting a nature-based intervention for the specific scenario of disaster risk reduction. KCPT
005 The student will acquire the necessary skills to critically assess the effectiveness of Nature-based solutions at different scales. 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 provide the student with 

  • A background knowledge of nature-based solutions and their practical implementation in real-life situations so that students can design and plan NbS for specific cases.

  • Analytical skills to critically assess benefits and drawbacks of nature-based solutions at different scales.

  • An understanding of approaches and tools to inform and influence policies for a successful integration of nature-based solutions in context and with particular reference to SDGs.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Online lectures based on different digital materials, including recordings and videos (captured content).

  • Live sessions.

  • Suggested readings.

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: ENGM318

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:
Global and cultural capabilities, through the analysis of case studies and nature-based solutions in different areas of the world.
Resourcefulness and Resilience, through an understanding of how nature-based solutions can help mitigating challenges like climate change, urbanization, natural and man-made disasters.
Sustainability, through an understanding of how nature-based solutions can accelerate the achievement of specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contribute to the Sustainability agenda.

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.