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Heritage and Environmental Change

Module titleHeritage and Environmental Change
Module codeHUMM011
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Natalie Pollard (Lecturer)

Professor Caitlin DeSilvey (Lecturer)

Dr Chloe Preedy (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module explores the challenges facing heritage management in times of accelerated environmental change. Although heritage management is commonly associated with the desire to protect a valued landscape, structure, object or tradition, increased awareness of the potential effects of climate change has led to a recognition that the preservation paradigm may not be sustainable in the long term. This module will explore the emergence of alternative approaches to heritage management, which recognise the inevitability of loss in certain contexts and seek new ways of thinking about the relationship between heritage conservation and environmental sustainability. The module will combine practical, regional field study with exploration of international case studies and policy contexts, considering questions such as: Can people forced from their lands by climate change take their place-based heritage with them in some form? Should heritage landscapes adapt to, or resist, environmental changes? How can heritage organisations effectively communicate climate change issues? The module considers the ways in which heritage is bound up in processes of change and transformation, and uses environment and climate change as a focus to enable you to analyse complex issues in practice.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module will introduce you to the theoretical and practical issues of sustainability and heritage management in times of environmental change. Drawing upon case studies that illustrate problems and opportunities in practice will enable you to consider how change is managed, and the future planned for, by both learning from and caring for the past. The module will encourage you to consider how attitudes to heritage have changed over time, and to explore the contemporary relevance of heritage to key global challenges such as climate change and sustainability. We will adopt a humanities approach to consider how people, practices, places and knowledges adapt to loss and transformation. The module will also introduce ideas about the Anthropocene and multi-species relations, and their potential contribution to the development of a more holistic heritage paradigm.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of environmental issues affecting heritage management
  • 2. Demonstrate knowledge of strategies for heritage management in times of climate change
  • 3. Evaluate change management in a specific context or site

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Demonstrate an ability to think critically about heritage and sustainability
  • 5. Demonstrate an informed understanding of key issues associated with environment and heritage

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. Analyse the relationship between theory and practice
  • 7. Demonstrate advanced skills of team work and communication

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • An introduction to the international context of heritage and environmental change
  • Unsustainable heritage
  • Costal change and adaptation strategies for heritage
  • Storm surges, inundation and the heritage of water
  • Heritage as change management
  • Place-based cultural identity and cultural loss
  • Communities, climate and conflict
  • Communicating climate change
  • Planning for uncertain Anthropocene futures

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 teaching4.53 x 1.5 hour lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching11 x 1 hour lecture
Scheduled learning and teaching4.53 x 1.5 hour workshop
Scheduled learning and teaching153 x 5 hour field classes
Guided independent study125Research, reading and assignment preparation


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Informal group presentation of workshop discussion outcomes5 minute group presentation, Week 1 and Week 51-7Oral feedback during workshop

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
Community engagement plan (group work)301500 words and additional visual content (entire group)1-7Written feedback
Report702500 words1-5Written feedback


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Community engagement planCommunity engagement plan1-7Referral/Deferral period
ReportReport1-5Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

If you are unable to complete the community engagement plan as a group task during the course of the module, you will instead complete an individual community engagement plan during the referral/deferral period.

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 submit a further 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

  • Susan A. Crate and Mark Nuttall, eds., Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Action (Left Coast Press, 2009) Susan A. Crate and Mark Nuttall, eds., Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Action (Left Coast Press, 2009)
  • Caitlin DeSilvey, Curated Decay: Heritage Beyond Saving (University of Minnesota Press, 2017)
  • Rodney Harrison,‘Beyond “Natural” and “Cultural” Heritage: Towards an Ontological Politics of Heritage in the Age of Anthropocene’, (2015)Heritage & Society 8:1 (2015); 24-42.
  • David Harvey, The Future of Heritage as Climate Changes: Loss, Adaptation and Creativity (Routledge. 2015)
  • National Trust, Shifting Shores: Playing our Part at the Coast, Report (2016)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Heritage, environment, climate change, Anthropocene, coastal erosion, National Trust

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date