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Unit information: World in Crisis? in 2021/22

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name World in Crisis?
Unit code GEOG16001
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Neal
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

Global warming, burgeoning populations, unplanned urbanization, logging of tropical forests, loss of biodiversity, modification of gene pools, aging workforces, natural disasters, pandemics, pollution .... newspapers, television reporting, books and films portray a world undergoing radical changes. The concerned citizen is bombarded with information about these "crises" but may legitimately feel that finding a solution to the problems requires an extremely broad knowledge base and that in many areas our knowledge is incomplete. This unit is open to all undergraduates with an enquiring mind and will examine some of the issues that face humankind at the beginning of the 21st century and show how geographers approach the problems facing the modern world. The unit will take topics that are currently reported in the media and examine the realities and uncertainties behind these issues, focusing particularly on the tools available to address key questions. Our aim is to facilitate cross-disciplinary discussion and to promote an in-depth understanding of problems facing us all.


  • To introduce students to some of the major issues currently challenging the world and its decision-makers today
  • To provide an insight into how these issues are influenced by complex interactions between social, cultural, economic, physical and biological processes
  • To demonstrate how observations and modelling are used together to analyse specific issues
  • To demonstrate how geographers are investigating these issues and providing deeper understanding of the problems and potential solutions to the problems that face the 21st century
  • To give an insight into how policy and decision makers can be informed by these investigations

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  • Describe and discuss the key environmental problems challenging the world in the 21st century
  • Appreciate how many of these problems are inter-related
  • Understand how human/environment interactions create and influence these problems and often instigate crises
  • Explain how physical and social scientists are observing, modelling and seeking to predict the implications of these problems
  • Make use of electronic learning facilities for guided study and reflection.

The Unit will provide the students with the following transferable skills:

  • analytical skills, and specifically ability to analyse media presentations
  • organisational skills, specifically in maximising the benefit from the directed reading and tutorial support
  • self-motivation, because the course offers multiple opportunities for the student to go in depth into particular areas.

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

Assessment Information

An unseen multiple choice examination at the end of the teaching block (100%)


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. GEOG16001).

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.