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Climate Crisis Action Lab - ESA00003H

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  • Department: Environmental Sustainability Academy
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Stephen Levett
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module places students from different disciplines in the position of strategic environmental rights investigators and campaigners. Working with external environmental campaign groups as clients, students from different subject backgrounds will investigate, in multi-disciplinary teams, a potentially unlawful government policy, practice or a failure to act regarding an issue in the UK that relates to the climate crisis.

Professional requirements


Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

Working together, students from different disciplines will work to understand in detail the background to a strategic issue related to the climate crisis presented by an external agency such as an NGO. For example, this might involve students exploring how to affect change at a national level in relation to the dumping of raw sewage into the UK’s rivers. To do this students will need to investigate the scientific evidence and background, the impact on local communities, and the possible legal or political solutions as well as any obstacles in the way of achieving a solution. Students will bring to bear on the issue their unique discipline-specific knowledge and skills, and identify, research and interrogate the evidence related to the issue. This will include the core chemistry of how substances behave in a given environment, the resulting impact on the wider ecosystem and the subsequent legal frameworks in place to prevent or deter negative impacts.

Students will be required to produce an output proposing a way to tackle the issue in the form of a group report. A non-assessed client output will also be produced based on this group report. As part of this, students will undertake an analysis of any possible legal or non-legal action that could be taken to challenge unlawful government or other action (for example, of a large corporation). The course will therefore simulate for students the work that has to be undertaken in order to understand an issue and then develop a successful argument or campaign for or against the practice.

Module learning outcomes

  1. To work collaboratively in multidisciplinary teams on pressing local and global challenges

  2. To be able to gather, analyse, summarise and present to a non-expert audience an evidence base relevant to the issue.

  3. To be able to identify practical legal and/or non-legal actions to be taken to challenge a government (or other body) policy, decision, practice or failure to act relating to the climate crisis, and analyse the relative prospects of success of those actions.

  4. To develop a critical understanding of the difficulties and challenges facing activists in seeking to tackle government action or inaction

Module content

At the start of the module students will be divided into multi-disciplinary teams of 6. The module will have two interwoven tracks:

Track 1 (Knowledge and Context): Through a series of interactive asynchronous lectures delivered online by a multidisciplinary team, and supported by independent learning activities, each group of students will examine an issue relating to the climate crisis. By way of example, this could relate to fracking; the decision to allow or refuse an incinerator; or HS2. Students will then be asked, as part of the interactive lectures, to reflect on and research the wider issues raised by each case. For example, students looking at HS2 could explore how the scientific arguments relating to the loss of bio-diverse habitats along the route and the impacts of the emissions from construction work were weighed, the factors taken into consideration in reviewing the impact of different alternative transport options on the economy, and the way in which public law arguments presented in court were framed. The aim here is for the students to begin to develop an applied appreciation of how to effectively manage the wide range of matters which need to be considered, prioritised and presented in order to argue effectively for or against a strategic issue such as HS2. Lectures will be online and asynchronous.

Track 2 (Application): For the second track of the course, the student will also be in the same group and be given a very short brief/topic by an external organisation interested in exploring an issue relating to the climate crisis. This organisation is likely to be a campaign group such as the Environmental Law Foundation or Rights: Community: Action, and will change each year.

The first part of the semester will be spent with the groups gathering evidence on this topic under the supervision of a multi-disciplinary team supported by GTAs. Each team will be required to complete a template which invites them to set out their evidence on the topic and produce an analysis of the quality of the evidence. This material will be subject to ongoing review and discussion by the teaching team and GTAs and will provide students with the basis for the development of a group report output. This will be individually assessed by asking each group member to specify the nature of their contribution to the report e.g. writing and research lead on Introduction. A separate non-assessed client facing output will also be created based on this which could be in the form of a report to the client on the issue or a series of campaign materials for the organisation to deploy as part of its campaign, whatever is most suitable to the requirements of the external client. The module will also assess individual student participation and contribution to the group work. The final assessment will consist of the group output and participation and contribution, both individually assessed.


Task Length % of module mark
Group Output individually assessed
N/A 80
Participation and Contribution
N/A 20

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Individual report
N/A 100

Module feedback

Generally: Constant feedback is built into the module design. By placing the students both in groups and in a clinic style environment, we hope to create a constant feedback loop to assist student development, which involves both the course tutors and the students' peers.

Assessment 1: Students will receive individual written feedback on their contributions to the group output.

Assessment 2: Students will receive individual feedback on their contribution to the group work.

Indicative reading

Much of the reading on this course will be dependent on the brief given to the students. It would be expected that the students focus reading, at least in the evidence gathering phase, on the context they are working in.

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.