KE7004 - Themes in Sustainable Development

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about how climate and environmental change weave through contemporary debates, challenges and practice in Sustainable Development from Global North and Global South perspectives. The module starts by covering the physical processes of climate change, broader environmental change and their impacts as an essential aspect of understanding the contemporary challenges of sustainable development. This serves as an essential foundation for learning about disasters (including adaptation, management and resilience) and their relationship to development. We focus on concepts, interpretations and principles of sustainable development, as well as the global institutions, policies, conferences and landmark contributions to the sustainability debate, policy and practice. We then mobilise this knowledge to focus on the developing world to learn about approaches to poverty alleviation, livelihoods, One Health, human security, natural resource management, and disasters. You will learn the appropriate conceptual frameworks to understand and approach these issues in depth. Finally the module explores how these problems intersect with dynamics in urban industrial societies.

This module provides an excellent foundation to employment in the development sector, for example by enabling you to better understand sector-wide debates, issues and processes. You will understand the different roles of various organisations and sectors in the development process as well as the language and frameworks they use in research, policy and practice. The module supports the development the key skills of giving oral presentations, writing a logical, reasoned argument and applying theory to practice which will prove valuable in terms of enhancing employability.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, seminars, presentations, independent learning and directed tasks. The lectures will cover theories and concepts, case study material, key exemplars, and module staff’s own research. Seminars are designed to allow you to explore these issues in greater depth through group discussion, especially around academic papers and contemporary policies as suggested by tutors. Seminars provide the opportunity to “co-learn”, that is learn from each other through the exploration of ideas and issues with the support of relevant module staff. At least one seminar will involve students leading a discussion on a paper or policy document they have read. Materials, including academic papers, policy documents and grey literature, news items, and videos will be provided for independent and guided learning via the eLP. Presentations enable you to delve into an issue that interests you in greater depth while also developing your professional presentation and organisational skills.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Support from the module tutors is available for essay and presentation preparation. Additional support is available for students who have not studied in the UK before or have been out of academic studies for some time. There will be interactive discussions with staff in seminars as part of formative support/feedback in preparation for assessments but support will primarily be available via the open door policy. 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.
The eLP will provide access to on-line resources including interactive reading lists.

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: Critically evaluate principles, practice and policies relating to sustainable development in the context of the developed and developing world
• MLO 2: Critically apply understanding of climate change and environmental change to development frameworks, concepts, and everyday realities and practices in poorer contexts.

• MLO 3: Critically review and assess the key issues in climate change, environment and sustainable development

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 4: Demonstrate advanced presentation skills in oral and written form

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 5: Demonstrate deep cultural sensitivity and a critical appreciation of value of indigenous knowledges relative to western hegemonic knowledges and practices

How will I be assessed?

Formative feedback on the tasks that are assessed through the assessments and through in-class exercises will be available to students before submission / presentation. This will allow students to iron out any challenges with writing skills, developing an argument and comprehension of key theories and concepts.

The summative assessments for this module are a 2500 word essay (70%), addressing MLOs 1, 2 and 4. This will give students an opportunity to iron out any problems with writing skills, developing an argument and comprehension of key theories and concepts. A ten minute oral presentation per student (30%) which addresses MLOs 3, 4 and 5 will help students improve their presentation skills.

Summative assessment is provided by written feedback on the essay, and verbal and written feedback on the presentation.





Module abstract

Working towards and achieving sustainable development requires a core understanding of climate change and related environmental breakdowns, including their environmental, political, economic, social, and geographical aspects. You will learn how climate change and broader environmental change underpin the challenges of sustainable development, including its intersections with disaster adaptation and mitigation. You will come to understand the foundations of climate and environmental change science, their effects, and the ways in which these intersect with the challenges, aspirations and policies of sustainable development. This will be done through a focus on the Global South to learn about approaches to poverty alleviation, livelihoods, One Health, human security, natural resource management. You will examine these contemporary debates in the sustainable development sector, including concepts, interpretations and principles of sustainable development. We will look at the global institutions, conferences and landmark contributions to the climate change and sustainability debate, focusing on related policy and practice. A primary focus will be on mobilising this knowledge and building on past and contemporary examples to develop policy solutions and on-the-ground practice to further sustainable development goals in a variety of contexts, from rural to urban, Global South and Global North. This is a research/ enquiry based and research tutored module. Learning will be primarily through lectures and engaged discussions around topical themes. The assessment for the module is a ten minute presentation and a 2500 word essay.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time
1 other options available

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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