Visualising the Environment | Abertay University

Visualising the Environment


This module is based on critically engaging with the nature culture divide, focusing on cultural interpretations of the environment and the theoretical tools which enable an understanding of these interpretations, the relationship between society and nature, the role of science in the environment, environmental attitudes and values, and social movements that relate to the environment.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with a reflexive overview of environmental issues and their affect on local, regional and global levels of society and an understanding of the relationship between society, culture and the 'natural'.

Learning Outcomes

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

1.  Critically outline and discuss the (inter)relationship between society and the environment;

2.  Critically engage with social cultural theories of recent political and social change in the environment;

3.  Recognise and critically evaluate the social aspects of a range of environmental issues;

4.  Critically evaluate scientific interpretations of the environment, especially the Scottish environment;

5.  Reflect on the current environmental problems we face; and,

6.  Participate more fully and actively as citizens on issues of societal and environmental concern.

Indicative Content

1 The Social-Environmental Dichtomy

Positivistic accounts of 'environmentalism' versus the social construction of the environment. Culture and the environment, science and the environment, globalization and the environment.

2 Human Ecology

Technologically, socially and culturally mediated understandings of place, space and time in and on the environment. The body and the environment.

3 Environmental Consumption

Visual Consumption of the environment and its association with class, gender, race, nation, etc.

4 Landscape as Icon

Romanticism in the European environment. Symbolism, iconisism and culture. Media and the environment.

5 Scotland's Environmental Agenda

Current sociological debates about the Scottish Environment will be critically outlined and discussed. These include: the creation of National Parks; nature conservation and environmental justice; and, participation in environmental decision making

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Technological Engagement In creating a 'file' (see below) on relevant material about an 'environmental project', students will be facilitated (through dedicated practicals) in gathering information through the web and web based search engines. Power point presentations given at lectures, will also be accessed by students through blackboard (Web CT). These presentations themselves include a variety of digital medium, video, audio and graphical. Graduate Attributes The module is taught and assessed using a combination of pedagogical styles (see below), which broadly are aligned with Kolb's (1984) 'experiential learning' techniques - a four-stage learning cycle. In adopting Kolb's approach, albeit critically, the module embraces the Universities graduate attributes as below Stage 1. Concrete Experience Through 'flexible collaboration' (practicals and field trip) students will be expected to recognise and critically determine the character of environmental issues. Stage 2. Reflective Observation Students here will be expected to challange their above determination of environmental issues; that is, self critique their own assumptions and/or predominant assumptions about the environment i.e. global warming, environmental sustainability, thus 'challenging complexity'. Stage 3. Abstract Conceptualization Using a variety of theoretical notions (see below), students will be facilitated, during this stage and based on the aforementioned, in refining their understanding of the environment. This will allow them to become 'determined creators' and/or 'confident thinkers'. 4. Active Experimentation In developing coursework and through weekly interaction with the module tutor, students will be encouraged to evaluate their nuanced theoretical ideas, associated with Stage 3 above, with a given reality: an environmental project. Again this meets the ideas associated with 'determined creators' and 'confident thinkers'.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 202
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 12
Supervised Practical Activity 12
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 45
Independent 109

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 2018/19 , and may be subject to change for future years.