Sustainable Development in Scotland


Based on a breadth of knowledge from across the disciplinary spectrum and from lay and community-based interests, this module aims to reflexively foster the development of a range of skills, knowledge and techniques within the natural, technological and social sciences that are relevant to the study of environmental sustainability and concurrently, life in the twenty-first century. It will promote an understanding of critical issues that confront humanity and begin to discern appropriate responses to these issues.


The aim of this Module is to begin to provide students with the skills and knowledge required to innovate locally in the context of transforming globally; that is, an understanding of social, cultural, economic and environmental issues associated with sustainable development and its practicalities; an understanding that will facilitate a transformational experience and a notion of active citizenship.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  outline and discuss the complex relationship between society and the environment;

2.  describe the principles and characteristics of sustainable development and appreciate how they relate to specific study disciplines;

3.  describe the social and cultural nuances of recent political and social change as regards sustainable development and global agreements thereof;

4.  recognise and critically evaluate the social, technological and natural aspects of a range of environmental issues;

5.  reflect on personal modes of practice and knowledge attainment in line with sustainable lifestyles and sustainable futures; and,

6.  an appreciation of local innovation as regards global transformation.

Indicative Content

1 The Challenge of Sustainable Development

Problems associated with life in the 21st Century and the relationship to scientific provisionalism and uncertainty are discussed.

2 The Genesis of Sustainable Development Concept

Developments associated with the Club of Rome are outlined while Limits to Growth and the Tragedy of the Commons are discussed.

3 Evolution of Sustainable Development

The Reo Summit and Suitability, and Policy Developments thereof will be discussed.

4 Scientific Inquiry and Sustainable Development

We will look at controversial issues like climate change, oil peak, and food production and the role of science in helping delimit them as problematic will be outlined.

5 Mainstreaming Sustainability

Sustainability and Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience, as individual and social concerns, will be evaluated. And their role in transformation will be discussed.

6 Communicating Sustainability

Human well-being, Environmental Justice, Environmental Policy and the practicalities of Sustainability in Scotland are discussed.

7 Sustainable Development in Practice

Community Empowerment associated with Land Reform. Energy Production and Food Production in Tayside are looked at.

8 Ethics and Sustaiability Policy

Active citizenship and Globalisation are discussed.

9 Innovating Locally, Transforming Globally

Transformations that are required to embrace Sustainability will be analysed and discussed.

10 Active Relationship for Sustainable Futures

Thinking Globally, acting locally.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Through a variety of teaching mechanisms, including lectures, tutorials , seminars, workshops and a fieldtrip, students¿ will be encouraged to think through the personal issues associated with life in the twenty-first Century and helped to put them in the context of Sustainable Development. This will be facilitated through two pieces of Coursework which orientate around two sections of the Module; the first being a reflexive piece on a personal carbon measurement, wherein students¿ will be invited to `footprint¿ themselves and reflect on how they can become more sustainable. This will be facilitated through six lectures and five tutorials by different staff from across the University. An opportunity to use electronic medium like Pebbledash to construct their work will be available to students. This work will prepare students for the second half of the Module and the second Coursework. This second piece of work allows students to engage with their personal thoughts on issues discussed during a fieldtrip to a local environmental project, and how, if at all, these thoughts have been further shaped and mediated in discussion with stakeholders and lecturers on this project and related issues in the second half of the module. These discussions will take the form of seminars and workshops timetabled on a weekly bases through the second half of the Module. Both Coursework are designed around a reflexive approach to study, wherein students are encouraged to think through issues and problems germane to them but in doing so, elaborate on how these problems are illuminated through study, in this case the interdisciplinary study of sustainability. In essence, the Coursework¿s are orientated around acting locally but thinking globally.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 6
Tutorial/Seminar 12
Supervised Practical Activity 20
Unsupervised Practical Activity 24
Assessment 40
Independent 98

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/20 , and may be subject to change for future years.