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Unit information: Environmental Risks, Management and Policy in 2021/22

Unit name Environmental Risks, Management and Policy
Unit code GEOG30015
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Neal
Open unit status Not open

None. This course is suitable to both physical and human geographers.



School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This is an interdisciplinary unit, aiming to equip students to assess, combine and apply evidence from both physical and social sciences in responding to real world problems of the risks of environmental change. This will include detection of environmental risks and attribution to different drivers; management of risk through adaptation and mitigation including disaster risk management; and formation and application of environmental policy from national through to international scales. Responding to environmental risks represent a complex mix between natural science and the social sciences, requiring the combination of evidence of the physical hazard causes and consequences, the effects of socio-economic conditions on vulnerability to change, as well as the legal, economic political and institutional responses.

The course is a mixture of practical skills (such as assessing risk under deep uncertainty, basic GIS and writing a policy briefing) and taught material. It includes guest lectures from practitioners in government and other agencies (e.g. UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), UK Environment Agency).

The aims and learning outcomes will be demonstrated and achieved through exploring different environmental change topics such as climate change and flood disaster risk management.

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • Analytical skills and problem solving;
  • Critical evaluation of literary sources;
  • Synthesis of scientific evidence;
  • Communication to a non-expert audience.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  1. interpret and apply methods for assessing evidence, uncertainty and risk for various environmental change issues;
  2. outline and evaluate risk assessment methods under present day conditions and future changes;
  3. identify and discuss approaches to mitigation, adaptation and risk transfer for various environmental change issues;
  4. assess the role of national and international policy and management practices in environmental risk mitigation and adaptation;
  5. identify key scientific information that is of relevance to policy or practice;
  6. identify policies and practices for which scientific evidence is of relevance;
  7. develop skills to synthesise and communicate scientific information and policy context in an effective and appropriate written manner to a nonscientific audience.
  8. demonstrate basic GIS skills including raster calculation, zonal statistics and mapmaking.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through a blended combination of online and, if possible, in-person teaching, including

  • online resources
  • synchronous group workshops, seminars, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous individual activities and guided reading for students to work through at their own pace
  • practicals; students who either begin or continue their studies in an online mode may be required to complete practical work remotely in order to meet the intended learning outcomes for the unit.

Assessment Information

Climate Policy Briefing Report, 4 pages (50%) [ILOs 3-7]

Disaster Emergency Briefing Report (with related practical session), 4 pages (50%) [ILOs 1-8]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. GEOG30015).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.