Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Title An Introduction to Environmental History
Code ENVS223
Coordinator Professor N Macdonald
Geography and Planning
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2022-23 Level 5 FHEQ First Semester 15


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate a knowledge of global environmental history, from pre-history to the present day.
2. To understand and critically evaluate the impact on the earth of: domestication of plants and animals; agricultural and industrial revolutions; and present day processes of globalisation and development.
3. To explain critically the consequences of desertification and deforestation
4. To critically evaluate present day academic and policy perspectives on the environment
5. To contribute and evaluate debates on environmental philosophy and ethics

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Demonstrate an understanding of global environmental history from the pre-history to the present day.

(LO2) To have a demonstrable understanding and ability to critically evaluate the impact on the earth of human and environmental relations in several themes including, agricultural changes, industry impacts, globalisation, resource management, landscape change and hazards.

(LO3) To critically engage with debates on environmental philosophy and ethics.

(LO4) To critically evaluate present day academic and policy perspectives on the sustainability of agricultural, environmental and industrial systems.

(S1) Communication skills



Syllabus covers themes such as:
In search of a framework: Landscape geography, cultural ecology and environmental history.
Philosophical insights into environmental history

Agriculture and the Environment: Long-term perspectives and present-day issues
Evolution, culture, environmental impact and the development of hunting and gathering societies.
The 'agricultural revolution' of the Neolithic and its impact.
Environmental issues raised by contemporary agriculture.
Pre-industrial agriculture: The Mediterranean world
Desertification/  Deforestation
Technological agriculture

Can the world feed itself in a sustainable way?
Population, Resources and Environment in an Industrialised Word
Long-term perspectives: An ecological history of industrialisation and population growth
Present day pressures: fuels; minerals and pollution.
Resource paradigms and the environment: technocentrism a nd ecocentrism.
Intellectual encounters with nature

Perils of a Restless Planet: An Introduction to Hazard Research
Is the world becoming more hazardous? Understanding natural hazards: contemporary frameworks and policies.
International policy at the beginning of the millennium

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching will be provided via a traditional lecture series consisting of 20 hours worth of lectures focused on content, with 2 hours given to discussions relating to revision and assessment.

In addition to the lectures there will be a prescribed reading/ task each week to compliment the lecture, which should be undertaken individually ahead of the future weeks lecture, with a brief discussion of these activities outcomes the following week.

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 22

Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 128


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Formal Examination Assessment Schedule (When): Exam Period  120    66       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Essay worth 34% (1500 words max), submitted ~Week 10.    34       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.