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Unit information: Sustainable Development in 2014/15

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Sustainable Development
Unit code UNIV10001
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Chris Willmore
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


The unit will provide an introduction to the principles, practices and problems of adopting a sustainable development (SD) approach to a wide range of human endeavours, exemplified by the range of academic expertise present within the University. After an introduction concerning the commonly-perceived bases for sustainable development and its historical evolution, the lecture programme divides into a series of elements, of which 6 from a wider range of possible contributions will be offered in any one session. These will be selected to demonstrate the diversity of arenas of application of sustainable development (SD) and to invite comparisons and contrasts among them, not least those which students are able to draw for themselves of the experiences of SD in different sectoral, geographical and social contexts.


  • to demonstrate the potential application of SD ideas across a wide range of contexts
  • to invite comparisons and contrasts of experience across the same range of applications
  • to identify the problems and tensions in the application of SD ideals in practical circumstances
  • to introduce students who are otherwise directed towards narrow academic fields of study to the concepts, controversies and working practices of much more diverse academic fields, and thereby broaden their intellectual and subject-field perspectives.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit:

Students will gain experience of the insights and experiences of a wide range of academic contexts with regard to a high-profile, contemporary and multi-dimensional issue. Those taking the unit will benefit from encounters with students from a diverse range of backgrounds in a variety of large and small group learning contexts, and contact with the working practices, standards and constraints of a diversity of academic and professional areas of expertise.

The following transferable skills are developed:

  • written communication
  • web-site preparation
  • problem solving
  • efficient note-taking
  • cross-disciplinary interaction and thinking
  • critical reasoning and evidence-based argument
  • group project design, management and execution
  • library and database searches
  • positive engagement with seminar discussion
  • peer assessment

Teaching details

Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Details

Exam and Wiki

Reading and References

Elliott, J.A. An Introduction to Sustainable Development, 4th Edition 2013. Routledge Perspectives on Development.

Other texts relevant to individual lectures will be available within the unit handbook.