Accessibility statement

Energy & the Environment - ENV00013I

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  • Department: Environment and Geography
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Colin Brown
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2022-23 to Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

Society's requirements for energy for heating, cooling, electricity and transportation are a major driver of greenhouse gas emissions. This module will provide students with the opportunity to understand technical, social and spatial dimensions of energy systems and how these interact with environmental parameters whilst also gaining knowledge and experience of some of the key methodologies used in managing and protecting the environment. The module will cover fundamental material on energy science and systems based on current usage of fossil fuels, as well as investigating a range of strategies for possible energy provision in the future (e.g. renewables, nuclear fusion, hydrogen, and energy conservation). This module will also bring into view that the energy system is a socio-technical system, and that energy system change or low carbon transitions will not simply be the result of changes to technical components. As such, the imperatives driving change, public and stakeholders attitudes towards energy system change, and geographical imaginings of how such changes may manifest, will also be key foci. Lectures will also introduce key management and research methodologies, outlining strengths, limitations, the legal context and practical examples of use within the context of energy and environment. Practical sessions will provide opportunities for hands-on experience with different methods applied to energy problems either through group working or use of computer software. Practitioners from Stockholm Environment Institute and environmental consultancy will present sessions giving their own experiences of energy and environment as well as the use of different tools to manage environmental impacts.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you should:

  1. Understand key components of energy systems both in the UK and internationally, including opportunities and limitations from resource, technology, environmental and social perspectives;
  2. Appreciate the policy context for energy and requirements for transformation to sustainable energy;
  3. Understand the principles of different methodologies applied in environmental assessment;
  4. Be able to select appropriate tools for addressing specific environmental problems and to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of output from each approach;
  5. Have experience of a selection of techniques gained from practical sessions and case-study seminars.

Generic / Employability Skills:

The module provides technical, scientific and policy understanding of the energy sector which will be a key employment sector for environmental graduates for the foreseeable future.

The module provides understanding and hands-on experience of some key methodologies of environmental management used in a wide range of sectors:

  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Strategic environmental assessment
  • Life cycle analysis

Seminars by external speakers and field visits to energy facilities widen the experience of the energy sector.

The practical component of the course is based on problem-solving within groups, helping to develop a range of generic skills:

  • Group participation and management
  • Problem analysis and task prioritisation
  • Time management
  • People skills


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 20
Essay - Policy Analysis
N/A 80

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Reassessment Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback on group tasks is provided as written comments on returned work (copied to each individual) and via a class discussion session in the following week.

Feedback on individual reports is provided as written comments on returned work and detailed class feedback in written form (disseminated via the VLE) giving generic information on good practice and improvement actions. Individual coursework is available for collection before end of spring term.

Examination scripts are made available to students in a dedicated session with the course lecturers available for one-to-one discussion. This allows identification of any points for improvement in future examinations.

Indicative reading

MacKay, David (2009). Sustainable energy without the hot air. UIT, Cambridge, UK

Randolph, John and Masters, Gilbert (2008). Energy for sustainability. Island Press

Boyle, Godfrey (2012). Renewable energy: Power for a sustainable future. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK

Everett, Bob et al. (2011). Energy systems and sustainability. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.