Module code: SOCM085

Module Overview

This module provides an up-to-date overview of key contemporary issues and debates fundamental to understanding the contribution contemporary social relations have had on the creation of the environmental crisis. The module is designed to provide students with an introduction to the social and political drivers which have led to a high carbon society, social consequences of environmental change and the social implications of different routes to a sustainable transition. It is taught through a number of case studies which both highlight specific issues and provide students with the skills and knowledge to evaluate the environmental consequences of a wide range of socially driven issues.
By the end of the module students will be able to understand how and why contemporary society is locked into unsustainable practices and explore the risks, challenges and benefits of transitioning to a globalized low carbon world.

Module provider

SOL - Sustainability, Civil and Env Eng

Module Leader

ROBERTS Tom (Sociology)

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: 84

Tutorial Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 40

Captured Content: 10

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Making sense of contemporary environment-society relationships.

  • Politics, market forces and the transition to a high carbon world.

  • Everyday practices and their impact on environmental change.

  • The social and political consequences of climate change and biodiversity loss: A case study of rising crime and criminal activity.

  • The co-benefits of a positive society-environment relationship.

  • Transitioning to a low carbon society. What are the options?

  • Risks, challenges and benefits of sustainable transitions.

  • The role of education and communication in successful transitions.

  • The problem of climate change denial.

  • The role of the climate justice movement.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Individual written assignment 100

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to:
The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of the challenging relationships between the natural environment and society 
The summative assessment for this module consists of a post-module individual written case study report.  Students will be asked to select a topic covered during the course (from a supplied list) and produce a critical evaluation with clear policy recommendations. The report should utilising social theory and social science data outlining the nature of the challenge and potential ways in which it can be overcome (Max 3000 words; 100% of module mark). 
Formative assessment:
Students will need to complete an online quiz at the end of each unit so as to gauge their level of knowledge. Questions will be focused around different elements of the course content including guided reading. This will have the additional benefit of helping students focus their reading each week.
Written feedback on students’ formative assessment will be provided to help students address the summative assessment.

Module aims

  • Encourage students to consider the societal as well as the environmental consequences of climate change and biodiversity loss.
  • Develop an understanding of how sociotechnical change since the industrial revolution has led to a human induced climate change.
  • Through a practice theory lens explore the relationship between everyday life and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Provide an overview of how to generate and utilise social science data to understand the relationship between contemporary society and environmental change.
  • Explore the challenges and benefits associated with transitioning to a low-carbon society and how social science can be used to assist the transition.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand the nature of the current unsustainable relationship between the environment and society. KC
002 Reflect critically on the impact of everyday practices on climate change and biodiversity loss. KC
003 Demonstrate an awareness of the different routes to a sustainable transition and the associated risks and benefits. KCPT
004 Explore the social and political consequences of climate change and biodiversity loss. 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: enable students to develop skills and knowledge regarding the relationship between the environment and society. This will be achieved through online interactive sessions drawing on the experience of teaching staff and a wide range of online academic and non-academic resources. The module will utilise a wide range of practical examples from different geographical and cultural perspectives to encourage the students to apply their own experiences and knowledge to the course content.
The learning and teaching methods include: 

  • Online lectures.

  • Online interviews, videos and short-documentaries.

  • Live chats and group discussions.

  • Main assessment writing guides.

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: SOCM085

Other information

The Institute for Sustainability 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 about the interconnection between environmental and societal dynamics.
Employability – The students will acquire specialist as well as transferable skills that are increasingly important in government, business and civil society organisations.
Sustainability – The students will gain a deeper understanding of sustainability dimensions and how to assess policies and societal trends in those dimensions.

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.