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Module DXX-2001:
Sustainable Development

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Eifiona Lane

Overall aims and purpose

This inter-disciplinary module presents an introduction to the development of the concept and broad practice of sustainable resource management and development arising from global population change, inequity and uneven development focussing mainly on global North contexts. The agreed global understanding of the vision of sustainable development is addressed by examining the role of economic analyses, governance and environmental planning approaches e.g. economic sustainability versus conventional investment appraisal and sustainability and measures of natural capital. Strategic adoption of sustainable regional and local development strategies for a number of specific areas where the notion of sustainable development may be applied e.g. transport, energy, biodiversity conservation, water and food and tourism development will be studied though analysis of case studies in contrasting geographical regions. The module will address the policy and management challenges posed by developing more sustainable and responsible approaches to tourism in relation to natural, built and cultural resources and will draw substantially from current good practice, especially in protected areas. It will look holistically at land use policy and designation issues and consider how different ecosystem services relate to each another, i.e. provisioning services (such as food, fibre and timber), regulating services (including climate regulation, regulation of water, air and soil quality), supporting services (soil formation, nutrient and water cycling and primary production) and cultural services (including recreation and tourism, cultural heritage, spiritual and aesthetic aspects). It will include real-life examples of how integrated sustainable resource management approaches can be developed and applied and how cross- and multi-disciplinary environmental resource management works in practice. The process of managing environmental impacts and measuring progress towards sustainability will be explored with reference to a number of current approaches and monitoring tools e.g. Eco System Services, Life Cycle Analysis, Eco and Carbon Foot-printing and localisation, de-growth and One Planet Living. Managing natural resources via the ecosystem services approach will be explored with a view to how we operationalize this approach. Urbanisation and the impact on the flows of ecosystem goods and services is also explored alongside other important drivers of change, such as population and climate change. Examples of statutory and non statutory agencies delivering sustainable development policy at international and planning and community based initiatives are explored. Particular emphasis is placed on the community scale response to SDev third sector response to the challenge of sustainable development with research and group-work activities around this theme. Students will undertake course work based on a field based group project where some of the above theoretical discussions are applied to specific community based projects or scenarios some of which will be based on action research including soft project management relevant to future career paths in the area of sustainable development. Students will also undertake a computer based workshop exercise demonstrating how life cycle assessment can be used to investigate sustainable, low carbon agricultural practices.

Course content

This module will look at sustainable development which is based on effective ways of protecting the environment, prudent use of natural resources, maintenance of stable and flourishing communities where everyone’s needs are met. Thus changing and contested discourses of power, community, distinctiveness of place and social progress will also be considered along side effective environmental planning and management methods. These entail specific examples of tools applied for working towards, managing and monitoring sustainability will be presented e.g. LCA, Eco Systems services and specific case studies where these have and are being applied will be utilised from real contrasting geographical areas. The module will draw on existing community energy, regeneration and tourism-related initiatives at local, regional and national level and provide critical commentary on their relative effectiveness and lessons learnt relating to sustainability. In order to examine strategic economic activity within the scope of sustainability theoretical discussion of several contexts will be examined in detail e.g. Local Food Initiatives, Sustainable Tourism, Sustainable Agriculture. This will include the basic global principles of sustainable tourism and how these have been variously applied in different contexts through charters and protocols. The development of the concept of sustainability will be examined in a general introduction to the changing population, resource technological and development debate. The economic theories relating to the wise management of natural resource will be explored along with the notion of governance for sustainable development involving international actors e.g. SNational Park, Mon AONB and as well as exploring the realtion ships between TNC’s and Campaigning groups. Students will be afforded the opportunity to work alongside staff within small project teams (max size 5) on specific case study scenarios involving techniques currently used by local sustainability practitioners and individually in quantitative assessment. Some of these projects will involve community organisations local to North Wales. This will include consideration of the recently extended section of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as a potential model approach to a sustainably managed protected area which emphasises high environmental quality and adding value and appreciation through integrated land use and activity management.

Assessment Criteria


Threshold (Standard Pass: D– to D+) a. No major omissions or inaccuracies in the deployment of information/skills. b. Some grasp of theoretical/conceptual/practical elements. c. Integration of theory/practice/information present intermittently in pursuit of the assessed work's objectives. d. Use of primary literature.


Good (Average to high standard Pass: C– to B+) a. Much or most of the relevant information and skills accurately displayed. b. Good/adequate grasp of theoretical/conceptual/practical elements. c. Good/fair integration of theory/practice/information in the pursuit of the assessed work's objectives. d. Evidence of the use of creative and reflective skills. e. Critical use of primary and other literature cited in the lecture.


Excellent (Excellent standard First Class: A– to A**) a. An outstanding performance, exceptionally able. b. The relevant information accurately deployed. c. Excellent grasp of theoretical/conceptual/practice elements. d. Good integration of theory/practice/information in pursuit of the assessed work's objectives. e. Strong evidence of the use of creative and reflective skills. f. Critical use of literature beyond that cited in the lecture.

Learning outcomes

  1. Understand the origin of the theory of sustainable development

  2. Appreciate the differing geographical contexts where this notion of development may be applied.

  3. Understand how both scientific knowledge and socio economic understanding is applied to the wise management of different types of resources at community and /or global scale.

  4. Describe a range of methods and tools used in the managing and monitoring of sustainability, e.g. water / or carbon footprint

  5. Develop soft project management skills and knowledge involved with sustainable development practice

  6. Experience and recall lecture based and field based evidence of specific contexts of sustainable resource management e.g. energy, tourism, eco systems services

  7. Understand and apply field research techniques such as conducting resource audits, consulting with key stakeholders, understanding human impact and other activity data and trend analysis in order to develop strategic and sustainable area and regional action plans .

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM Exam 40
COURSEWORK Computer workshop LCA assignment Semester 2 30
REPORT Assignment Semester 1 30

Teaching and Learning Strategy


13*2 hour lectures


2*1 hour drop in tutorials will be held in the computer lab (small group or individual session) to support learning on computer workshop component of the module.


2*8 hour field visits


1 * 2 hour workshop 1 * 3 hour workshop 1 * 1 hour workshop

Private study

Private and guided self-study


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting


Resource implications for students

Appropriate field based clothing and camera

Talis Reading list

Reading list

additional material during teaching session and via blackboard.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: