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Module DXX-3508:
Environmental Issues

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Paul Hill

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To provide students with a detailed knowledge of a current environmental or related issue of their choice.
  2. To inspire students about science.
  3. To give students experience in writing a report.
  4. To allow students to generate ideas and take part in discussions in an interview setting.

Course content

This module allows the student to undertake a desk-based research project looking in depth at a current environmental or related issue. The module runs in Semester 1 and culminates in the production of a written project report and interview. The issues are chosen by the student to reflect his/her interests and can range from local issues through to global issues. The range of popular current issues will be investigated by individual students. Sources such as tabloid and broadsheet daily and Sunday newspapers, broadcast media, the internet, popular scientific journals and the more rigorously refereed scientific journals should be consulted. The topic should be different from that chosen in the student's experimental research project. Topics should be selected in consultation with the module organizer. The module involves student-led research into a specific topic. Apart from an introductory lecture and one mid way question and answer session there are no formal lectures or practicals associated with this module. At the end of Semester 1, each student will present their topic in the form of a 15 minute interview and will submit a project report on their chosen topic. Both the interview and project report elements will be assessed.

Assessment Criteria


Grade D- to D+ Aware of the key principles underlying the science. Pass level in specialist essays. Basic competence demonstrated in group discussion.


Grade C- to B+ Better understanding of the principles. Competent demonstration of the understanding and use of data in specialist reports. Rapid progression through topics in group discussion. A deep knowledge of a specific environmental or related issue and a thorough understanding of seminar material.


Grade A- to A** Very good understanding of the science. High level of competence demonstrated in understanding current environmental or related issues. Evidence of considerable effort and thought and effective use of background material to support cases.

Learning outcomes

  1. Successful students will typically be able to critically evaluate the arguments associated with a specific scientific issue.

  2. Successful students will typically be able to study and critique a range of scientific literature and explain and illustrate the specific aspects of their chosen topic.

  3. Successful students will typically be able to understand how this issue is perceived by the media.

  4. Successful students will typically be able to appreciate associated environmental issues and be able to stimulate scientific debate.

  5. Successful students will typically be able to apply technology in the use of standard computer software (Web databases, MS-Powerpoint, MS-Word) for searching databases and producing reports .

  6. Gain experience in interview technique.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
REPORT Project Report 65
ORAL Assessed interview 35

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

This is self-study associated with literature searching required to produce the project report and also in preparation for the interview.


1 hour introductory lecture to the module. This provides information on the choice of topic and the assessments. Additional 1 hour lecture midway between introductory lecture and hand in. Students will have the opportunity to ask staff about preparing their reports


These are drop-in sessions where the students can meet the module organiser to get guidance on the choice of topic, on finding information for the topic and on production of the final report. They are also used to provide feedback on draft reports. The times for these sessions are normally organised by the student by Email with the module organiser.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • 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
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Awareness of the concepts of spatial and temporal scale in understanding processes and relationships.
  • Appreciation of the reciprocal nature of human-environmental relationships.
  • Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
  • Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.


Resource implications for students

All students need access to the Internet to complete the literature searching for this module and to access online content.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

There is a brief reading list, but most literature is found by the student to prepare a report on a subject chosen by them

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: