Governing Sustainability

Module titleGoverning Sustainability
Module codeGEOM159
Academic year2017/8
Module staff

Dr Bridget Woodman (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module further develops the study of sustainable development and focuses on governance and implementation. We will look at who applies and implements sustainable development principles, and where and how these principles are applied and implemented. We will examine who the different actors are and how sustainability is measured in different contexts including developed and developing countries. We will look at some of the different policies and approaches that have been formulated to implement sustainable development by governments, communities, and corporate sectors.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to give you a solid basis for understanding the range of policy and other tools available to implement sustainability and to understand how they relate to different core concepts, theories, principles, and the politics associated with them.

Attendance at weekly lectures and seminars/workshops will introduce you to relevant academic and professional skills which can be utilised in professions and occupations which are linked to sustainability – particularly the governance and policy aspects. These skills will include:

  • the development of problem solving capacities and capabilities, such as linking theory to practice and practical applications and developing your own ideas with confidence;
  • setting clearly defined goals and clear objectives within the framework of the module;
  • time management and organisational skills;
  • working effectively individually and within a group setting;
  • presenting ideas and responding positively and effectively to questions and challenges in the area of sustainability, governance and policy making.  As part of a group you will also design and deliver your own seminar/workshop aimed at delivering the ILOs outlined below.

The module is research-led and introduces you to real world and relevant issues around governing sustainability, policy making and sustainable development, and the practicalities which are involved in the transition to a low carbon, resource-constrained world.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Outline the main issues and ideas informing governance of sustainable development
  • 2. Evaluate the theories of change which underpin these different approaches
  • 3. Analyse policy options in sustainable development
  • 4. Explain how different options and policy instruments and outcomes can be assessed

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. Describe sustainable development and how the principles operate
  • 6. Synthesise material from a broad range of relevant areas to problem solve environment and sustainability issues
  • 7. Demonstrate a self-reflective approach to learning

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 8. Work as part of a team and independently
  • 9. Identify and solve problems
  • 10. Organise and present material and ideas effectively in different formats
  • 11. Manage deadlines and targets
  • 12. Critically reflect on your performance
  • 13. Design and lead a workshop or seminar based on defined learning outcomes

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Themes cover:

  • Governing and measuring sustainability
  • The actors and politics of sustainability
  • The role of corporations and businesses  in sustainable development
  • Market environmentalism
  • Social movements and transitions
  • Behaviour change

Each week will have a specific theme which will be outlined in the lecture. The second weekly session will be a student-led and designed seminar or workshop based on the principles of active learning. These sessions are intended to allow students to explore specific aspects of each theme in more detail.

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 teaching15Lectures and class-based discussion
Scheduled learning and teaching15Student-led and designed workshops on a specific theme
Guided independent study120Additional research, reading and preparation for seminars/workshops and module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar/workshop design and delivery1.5 hoursAllPeer review and oral feedback at the end of the session
Participation in seminars/workshopsSeminar/workshopAllOral

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
Campaign plan303 sides A4AllWritten
Report703000 wordsAllWritten


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Campaign planCampaign planAllAugust

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 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 50%) you will be required to re-submit the original assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Conca, K., and Dabelko, G. (eds), 2010 Green Planet Blues: Four Decades of Global Environmental Politics
  • Dryzek, J and Schlosberg, D (eds), 2005 The Environmental Politics Reader: Debating the Earth [Paperback]
  • Adger, WN and Jordan A (eds) 2009 Governing Sustainability Cambridge: CUP
  • Keeley J and Scoones I, 2003 Understanding Environmental Policy Processes. Earthscan
  • Jackson, T. (2009) Prosperity without Growth. Earthscan: London
  • Dryzek, J. S., 2005. The Politics of the Earth Oxford: Oxford University Press

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Sustainable development, governing sustainability, market environmentalism, social movements and transitions, corporate sustainable development, behavioural approaches

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date