KE5012 - Urban Environmental Issues

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What will I learn on this module?

A little over 50% of the global population now live in cities and urban areas and this is expected to increase to 70% by 2050. Cities and urban areas are highly demanding and their influence reaches across the planet. It is now recognised that cities are significant resource users and pollution producers. Cities will have to play a lead role in tackling the many environmental problems we face. There are a number of initiatives in cities to reduce their environmental impact. There are examples of cities pursuing green, eco-friendly or sustainable policies. In this module you will learn about the impact of cities on the global commons. You will then go on to learn what measures are being taken to make cities more sustainable and explore the characteristics of a sustainable city. Your learning will cover the following core areas:-

The rise and nature of cities including how they are provisioned
Pollution and waste – how cities impact the global commons
The response by cities in climate change risks.
Cities and human well-being.
The characteristics of sustainable cities.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures that will be delivered by a number of staff. Beyond timetabled sessions, your independent study will be guided and supported through your engagement with a range of interactive learning resources accessible on-line via the module eLP site.

Lectures will be used to introduce and develop key issues, concepts and principles across the range of topics covered on the module; in effect they will act as a framework or scaffolding to support your learning. You will then further develop and build your knowledge, understanding and expertise by engaging with the on-line, interactive reading lists made available via the module’s electronic learning platform (eLP).

How will I be supported academically on this module?

All teaching materials for the module are made available on the module eLP site. In line with the Department’s open door policy, you may approach the module tutor for additional support as required.

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: Discuss the key issues in the cities debates and articulate the challenges that increasing urbanism presents.
• MLO 2: Describe and evaluate the different approaches cities will need in responding to climate risks.
• MLO 3: Describe and evaluate the different approaches to improving the sustainability of the urban environment.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 4: Effectively communicate complex ideas and arguments and propose solutions to human impacts on the environment, and issues challenging environmental sustainability and security.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
1. MLO 5: Effectively appraise aspects of morality, ethics and justice which are implicit within the climate change debate and to think independently, understand and justify your opinion.

How will I be assessed?

The module is assessed through two assignments, each weighted at 50% of the overall module assessment. The assignments take the form of report. The first assignment will focus on the nature of cities and the range of impacts they have on the global commons. This assignment addresses MLOs 1, 4 and 5.

The second assignment asks you to report on the responses by cities to climate risks and the sustainability debate is influencing city development. This assignment addresses MLOs 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Formative support and feedback for these assessments will be provided through discussion with the module tutor both within timetabled classes and outside formal scheduled teaching as part of the Department’s open door policy.





Module abstract

The drive towards urbanisation is continuing throughout the world. More than half of the global population, some 3.5 billion people, live in cities and this is expected to double by 2050. Cities will have to play some crucial roles. As well as meeting the physical and psychological needs of its citizens, cities will also need to minimise their impact on the environment. Cities will need to become highly efficient resource-users and develop in ways that minimise waste and optimise the use of clean and renewable resources. We do know that cities can be very efficient but a step change in the way cities function is needed. In short they will have to be transformed to meet human needs. Further they will need to reduce their ecological footprint in order to free space for other species to thrive. A diverse planet is a healthy planet.

Course info

UCAS Code L7T6

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 4 years full-time or 5 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020 or September 2021

Fee Information

Module Information

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