To introduce students to the complex nature of environmental problems and to provide them with multi-disciplinary tools of analysis in relation to those problems. To develop students' understanding of the fundamental concepts of environmental science (irrespective of disciplinary background), and enhance their critical ability to integrate cross-disciplinary analyses of environmental problems. To enhance students' knowledge of a wide range of disciplinary perspectives (including biological, chemical, ecological, economic, legal, physical, political and social), and develop their ability to integrate these into analyses of environmental issues and problems. To encourage students to develop the environmental, scientific and policy knowledge necessary for a career in environmental sciences. To enable students to conduct research in the development or application of environmental science. To encourage students to develop a range of transferable skills including numeracy, IT skills, presentation skills, problem solving, and information retrieval.
MA Environment, Science and Society is an innovative Master’s course, taught jointly by a wide range of departments and centres at the University. The course is designed to introduce students to the multidimensional nature of environmental questions and to explore the interaction of ecological, social, economic, political and legal factors in determining the outcome of environmental issues at local, national and international level.
A: Knowledge and Understanding
A1 : A broad overview of the cross-disciplinary nature of environmental problems
A2 : An advanced understanding of how to integrate different disciplinary perspectives in environmental analyses
A3 : An understanding of the core principles and concepts of both biological sciences and social sciences (in particular economics, politics, sociology, law) that contribute to the environmental agenda
A4 : The variety of research methods for interviewing, social surveys and analysis of datasets for environmental problems
A5 : The methods of critical analysis and argument appropriate to complex and contested environmental issues
A6 : A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of a selected current research area
A1-A6 are developed through module seminars, option lectures and related assessed coursework (with feedback from examiners), and through the development of a dissertation in close consultation with a supervisor.
Students are expected to extend and enhance their knowledge and understanding acquired from seminars and lectures by consulting library and other materials related to the course. Such independent research is a fundamental part of most assessments.
A1-A5 are assessed through a variety of coursework, comprising 4 themed essays (3500 words), a verbal presentation, essays and coursework for optional modules.
A6 is assessed by a dissertation.
B: Intellectual/Cognitive Skills
B1 : Systematically retrieve, select and integrate a variety of environmental information and perspectives
B2 : Synthesise evidence, arguments and ideas from different disciplines and often conflicting sources in a self-directed manner, leading to coherent and logical analyses
B3 : Reason critically and offer judgements based on argument that can be communicated effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences
B4 : Think independently to make connections between familiar and new ideas
B5 : Integrate and link information across course components from different disciplines, including ability to select relevant material, appraise arguments and evidence from different disciplines, and develop new integrated positions
B6 : Plan and conduct a substantial research project with guidance from a supervisor, and present it in a coherent manner
B1-B5 are taught and developed through seminars, lectures and coursework. The seminars encourage critical discussion, together with an emphasis on ability to reason and argue coherently, and to learn from others.
B6 is developed through the dissertation plan and execution.
B1-B5 are assessed through coursework essays of differing length and an oral presentation.
B6 is assessed in a dissertation based on the project of not more than 12,000 words.
C: Practical Skills
C1 : General research skills: capacity to locate appropriate material and datasets
C2 : Skills in conducting scientific/social surveys, interviews and research tasks
C3 : Capacity to form a research question for the dissertation
C1-C3 are taught through the research methods module, together with dedicated learning seminars on essay writing skills, and public speaking and science communication.
Considerable autonomy is encouraged in researching all assessed essays (for core and thematic seminars and optional modules).
C1-3 are assessed by analyses and essays in the research methods module. The essays and dissertation will also demonstrate these skills.
D: Key Skills
D1 : (i) Write structured and integrated reports addressing key environmental issues from a range of disciplinary perspectives, using proper academic conventions, creating logical and well-argued essays and dissertation, (ii) Give an oral presentation relating to core essay
D2 : (i) Use of current networked PC operating systems for normal file management, (ii) Use a current common word-processing, spreadsheet, web browsing and email packages, (iii) Ability to locate and use on-line catalogues and databases
D3 : Apply appropriate methods to gather and analyse data
D4 : Explore, analyse and find effective solutions for environmental problems involving a variety of information from different disciplinary contexts
D5 : N/A
D6 : (i) Work to deadlines, including planning and time-management to meet assessment targets, (ii) Develop work independently of guidance for extended periods
D1 and D4 are developed through coursework, the research project, the seminars on essay writing skills and communication skills.
D2 is developed by students after some initial guidance.
D3 is taught in the research methods module.
D6 is developed through course assessments, rigid deadlines and feedback on assignments.
D1-D4 are assessed through coursework, the research methods module, the research project and the oral presentations. All dissertations are only acceptable in word-processed form, and must be presented according to the programme's rules.
D6 is assessed indirectly by assessing coursework, by imposing strict deadlines for assignments and by awarding marks for evidence of extra reading/going beyond lecture material.