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Society, Environment and Energy

Module titleSociety, Environment and Energy
Module codeGEO1412
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr Iain Soutar (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Understanding the way in which people interact with nature is one of the most important issues facing contemporary society. In this module you will explore the two-way relationship between social processes and environmental change, much of which is influenced by the ways in which society produces and consumes energy. It considers the way in which these interactions have evolved over time in a variety of different geographical locations from the local to the global. The module will introduce you to broad themes in environmental understanding, and then apply them to the specific case study of climate change and energy. The module provides you with a framework for evaluating critically the values and assumptions that lie behind these society-environment-energy relations. You will be encouraged to use the workshops to develop your own interest in society and energy systems by considering real-world scenarios that will better equip you to apply contemporary theory to practical situations in the workplace.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is twofold. First, to explore, in broad terms, the range, nature and implications of society/ environment interactions. Second, to examine such interactions in the context of past, contemporary, and future energy systems. The module explores the contested nature of these interactions in global, national, regional, urban and rural contexts, and the role of different stakeholder groups (such as policy makers, interest groups, the media etc.) in shaping them. You will consider the way in which these interactions between society, environment and energy have evolved over time, and provide a framework for critically evaluating the values and assumptions that lie behind them.

The content of the module reflects the interconnections between research and teaching by consistent reference to research carried out by the module convenor and colleagues – thus enabling a more joined up pedagogic approach to researching, writing, reading and understanding.

More generally, through attending the weekly lectures and workshops, alongside your own independent learning, you will develop the following academic and professional/employability skills:  

  • fundamental problem solving (linking theory to practice with academic guidance),
  • collaboration (learning about the views and values of others), and
  • audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss basic relationships between society, environmental and energy processes in a geographical context
  • 2. Distinguish between competing notions of society, environment and energy and the role of geography within these
  • 3. Assess social, environmental and energy priorities in different spatial contexts and at different spatial scales
  • 4. Describe and evaluate emerging policy agendas for different society-environment-energy processes at the global and national scale and understand the historical context of these agendas
  • 5. Explain how society, environment and energy relations are represented through different media formats

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Describe essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of human geography
  • 7. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples into written work
  • 8. Identify and implement, with some guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing a specific research problem in human geography
  • 9. With guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within human geography
  • 10. Describe and begin to evaluate approaches to our understanding of human geography with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 11. Develop, with guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound conclusions
  • 12. Communicate ideas, principles and theories using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 13. Collect and interpret appropriate data and undertake straightforward research tasks with guidance
  • 14. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to professional and practical skills identified by others
  • 15. Reflect on learning experiences and summarise personal achievements

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Module overview and the environment as a social issue
  • Human-environment interactions
  • Knowledge, ideas and the environment
  • The environment in the economy
  • Democracy and environmentalism
  • Thinking about tomorrow
  • Energy for geographers and environmental scientists
  • Why is energy so political?
  • The water-energy-food nexus
  • Energy, climate and development


  • One hour workshop per week based on key ideas and readings from the workshops

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching20Lectures on statistical and quantitative methods
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Workshops
Guided independent study120Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions during lectures Ongoing throughout the moduleAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination6090 minutes1-13Written
Multiple choice test4030 minutes1-5Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExaminationExamination1-13August Assessment Period
Multiple choice testEssay plan (500 words)1-5Not applicable

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The multiple choice test is not deferrable. If you are deferred in the multiple choice test, you will be re-assessed by a 500 word essay plan. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Carter, N (2007), The politics of the environment: ideas, activism, policy (Cambridge University Press)
  • Cloke, P., Crang, P. and Goodwin, M. (2004) Introducing Human Geographies (Hodder Arnold)
  • Diamond, J. M. 2005. Guns, germs, and steel. Random House
  • Dryzek, J.S. (2005) The Politics of the Earth. Oxford University Press
  • Shell (2008), A Mini Rough Guide to Energy, available on ELE
  • Dessler, A, Parson, E (2010), The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: a guide to the debate (Cambridge University Press)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Environment, society, energy, climate change, technology, knowledge

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date