KE4011 - Our Living Planet

What will I learn on this module?

On this module you will learn about Our Living Planet and how it has been influenced by humans. You will be introduced to a global overview of the complexity of life on earth and how this has changed through time. The wide-ranging and theoretical subject matter is grounded in real-life examples, including local environmental issues. You will also gain practical experience in taxonomy, field techniques, data analysis and standard methodologies required for environmental science. You will then build on this through a series of lectures and seminars that allow you to explore and debate the complexities of the relationship between people and the environment. You will learn about key historical and contemporary debates relating to the environment and how these have informed policy and practice. You will develop a much clearer sense of your own personal environmental values and your own perspectives in these broader debates. You will learn about the contested nature of the environment and economic and social aspects of the natural environment.

Some of the themes that will be covered include:
(as examples, staff dependent)
- Patterns of life on earth in space and time
- Ecosystems and ecological concepts: Arrangement of life on earth
- Biodiversity: Role and current crisis
- Ecosystem services and environmental change
- Climate change and its impacts
- Human impacts on the environment
- Carbon management
- Poaching and wildlife crime
- Plant and animal identification
- - Property rights and their role in environmental problems (e.g. Tragedy of the Commons versus Tragedy of Enclosure)
- Environmental risks (and concepts such as the precautionary principle)
- Ethical issues and perspectives (such as animal rights and fox hunting)
- Environmental management (including tools for environmental managers, critique of Environmental Impact Assessments)
- Management of environmental hazards
- Renewable energy and its impact on the environment
- Community management and ownership of the environment

These themes will provide you with a solid foundation to your degree and a broad background of knowledge that may be relevant to a range of environment-related jobs.

How will I learn on this module?

You will begin by learning theory taught through lectures where a broad overview will be given of the complexity of life on earth and the patterns of life in space and time.

In the second part of the module ou will learn through weekly lectures which will provide the background to the debate. Then, in the accompanying interactive seminars you will be given the chance to discuss the issues introduced in detail, encouraging critical thinking and your ability to contribute to debate. Students will shape the debate by contributing oral presentations, which will be used to spark further discussion, with guided reading linked to the lecture also given to facilitate independent learning.

You will also learn practical skills necessary to monitor the environment successfully, including identification and collection of species outdoors, laboratory based identification and practical conservation/management work.

Important skills developed in this module that are relevant to employment include: knowledge of the environment and how it is shaped by humans, practical skills in species collection and identification, skills in conservation and management in the field, the ability to discuss and debate, the ability to critique theory, and give oral presentations conveying an argument/ considered position.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Learning materials (for the lectures and practical sessions) will be made available through the eLP. All reading material is made available electronically through reading lists, with the essential reading for the seminars highlighted. Lecturing and support staff will support students to learn safe working practices in the field and laboratory. Teaching staff operate an ‘open door’ policy for students meaning you can approach them anytime during normal office hours, or via email, to answer questions, receive feedback and support your learning on the module.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO 1: Review and discuss key environmental debates at a global and local level from an informed perspective
• MLO 2: Describe different environmental positions and stakeholder perspectives and interests in the environmental debate

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 3: Develop an ability to collect and identify common UK species using standard taxonomic keys.
• MLO 4:Effectively communicate in written and oral form results, analysis and discussion of environmental data and issues. .

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 5: Contribute to debate and effectively articulate personal environmental values and appreciate different ethical positions with respect to the environment.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment 1 (60%): A ten minute presentation (maximum of 15 presentation slides) per person (80%) and individual engagement with the group discussion on the seminar topic (20%). This will encourage students to develop their confidence in presentations by giving them an opportunity to present in a small group setting and encourage seminars to be lively and engaging and will be assessed through the students’ attendance and contribution to the discussion (MLO1, MLO2, MLO4 and MLO5) (20%).

Assessment 2 (40%): Practical work will be assessed through a practical report (40%). This will be in the form of a portfolio which will include the student’s work from the practical sessions. Students will be required to submit a sample of their practical work for assessment. (MLO1, MLO3, MLO4)





Module abstract

This module introduces you to your home planet, the other residents and how we are interacting. You will learn about the fundamental controls on life and learn how to identify species. This module also provides a foundation to key thinking in modern environmentalism and environmental management. It will develop your awareness of some of the major concepts and paradigms in environmental analysis, evaluation and decision-making and to place environmental management within historical, philosophical, social, technological and ecological contexts. More practically the module aims to foster critical thinking and confidence in debating and presentation skills, taxonomic skills in identifying species and observation skills on fieldwork. The module will be delivered via lectures, seminars, practical sessions and fieldwork that will immerse you in learning and engagement. The module will be assessed via a practical assessment and an oral presentation with a debate.

Course info

UCAS Code F751

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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