Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
GG10210 or DA10210, GG10310, GG10110 or DA10110

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours. 10 x 2 hr lecture


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - Exploring the scientific and political origins of sustainable development (2,000 words) (50%) Essay 2 - Critically analyzing the application of sustainable development policies (2,000 words) (50%)   100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed assessments.  100%

Learning Outcomes

This module allows students to acquire a critical understanding of the social, economic and environmental processes, which have given rise to the discourses and practices associated with sustainable development. Students will be able to specify clearly the goals and policy aims of sustainable development and exhibit an awareness of the limitations of sustainability as a societal model. In addition students will gain an awareness of the geographical factors which influence the emergence of different sustainable development strategies within different national contexts. On completion of the module, students should be able to:

a) Describe and evaluate the principles of sustainable development.

b) Specify clearly the kinds of national and international factors which have given rise to the emergence of sustainable development as a political objective.

c) Exemplify the different forms of sustainable society, which have emerged within the developed, developing and post-socialist worlds.

d) Discuss and evaluate using specific examples, the limitations of sustainability as both an international policy discourse and a set of social and economic practices.

e) Show in their written examination evidence of the development of transferable skills through the depth of their reading and use of other sources, their interpretation, evaluation and critical synthesis of a range of material and the marshalling of an argument in written form.


This module Considers the ways in which the discourses and practices associated with sustainable development are emerging as key political considerations at a national and international level. Of particular concern within this module arethe geographical contexts and scales at which sustainable development is being implemented and contested. Ultimately the module seeks to introduce students to the main social, economic and environmental concepts associated with sustainability and to enable students to question and critically analyze the assumptions upon which it is based.


a. Introducing the 'sustainable society'
Lecture 1. The roots of the sustainable society.
Lecture 2. From Stockholm to Rio - the politics of sustainability.

b. Exploring the 'sustainable society'
Lecture 3. The Western model of the sustainable society.
Lecture 4. Sustainable development and the Post-socialist world.
Lecture 5. The fight against poverty - sustainability in the Third World.
Lecture 6. The rise of the sustainable city.
Lecture 7. Sustainable development in the ecological region.
Lecture 8. The sustainable citizen: reflections on environmental education and behaviour change.

c. Reviewing the sustainable society.
Lecture 9. Resilience and the decline of the sustainable development vision.
Lecture 10. Module summary and essay workshop.

(NB. The essay workshop held in Lecture 10 will provide feedback on the first module essay, and advice on the content and construction of the second module essay).

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Developed through analysis of key UN data sets on environmental pollution and economic development.
Communication Developed in a written from through the two essay assignments
Improving own Learning and Performance The assessments for this module has been deliberately devised to provide iterative steps for students in the development of their learning performance. The written and oral feedback that the students receive on for Essay 1 will enable reflection ahead of the second Essay, which expects students to apply the insights gained from the module in to case study contexts.
Information Technology Word-processing packages (MS Word) in completion of written work. Use of extensive United Nation’s Electronic Catalogue of sustainability policy documentation. Use of Facebook Community page designed to support this module.
Personal Development and Career planning Both essays within this module have policy and practical foci ,which will enable students to explore potential career development paths within the fields of international development, urban planning, and environmental management.
Problem solving Developed explicitly through the two essay assignments. In these assignments students are expected to critically assess the nature and impacts of sustainable development policies and propose modifications to existing policy frameworks.
Research skills Students are expected to research and synthesize a range of academic and policy source material in the completion of each of the assignments outlined above.
Team work Students will be expected to work as teams within various group reading and non-assessed quizzes held during the lectures.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Whitehead, M. (2007) Spaces of Sustainability: Geographical Perspectives on the Sustainable Society London, Routledge Primo search
Consult For Futher Information
Adams, W (1992) Green Development: Environment and Sustainability in the Third World London: Routledge Primo search Beck, U (1992) The Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity London: Sage Primo search Dobson, A (1990) Green Political Thought London: Routledge Primo search Dresner, S. The Principles of Sustainability Earthscan Primo search Hajer, M (1997) The Politics of Environmental Discourse Oxford: Clarendon Press Primo search International Commission on International Development Issues (1981) North-South: A programme for survival Pan Books Primo search Johnson, P (1992) The Earth Summit: the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) London: Graham & Trotman Primo search Pepper, D (1984) The Roots of Contemporary Environmentalism London: Croom Helm Primo search World Commission on Environment and Development (1989) Our Common Future Oxford: Oxford University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5