KE3005 - Understanding and Communicating Environmental Issues

What will I learn on this module?

You will develop a deep scientific understanding of five current environmental issues and learn how to communicate these to a primary/middle school audience. The module starts with introductory lectures and guided reading to engage you with a variety of environmental issues. You will then move onto small group seminars designed to give you the skillset to tackle the module assessment: to communicate one of these environmental issues to a primary/middle school audience. As you explore the scientific background to the environmental issues, a staff member will support you as you develop your leaflet to communicate the environmental issue. The module culminates when your leaflet is sent out to a local primary/middle school and you receive the feedback from the schoolteacher as to whether your hard work has helped the children to learn about the environmental issue. No pressure!

Environmental issues that could be covered:
Glacier retreat
Water resources
Pollinator decline
Climate change
Natural hazards

The exact five environmental issues covered will depend on which research-active staff members are teaching on the module each year.

How will I learn on this module?

In this module, you will learn through lectures, seminars and meetings with your allocated staff member. In addition to timetabled sessions, your independent study will be guided and supported through your engagement with a range of resources accessible on-line via the module eLP site, including an electronic reading list. Lectures will be used to introduce key issues and concepts across the environmental issues. Small group seminars will teach you what sources of information you can trust, how to find these sources, how to be objective, how to communicate with a primary school audience, how to make leaflets, how to make stunning graphics, how to identify the key information and how to reflect on your work. As you develop your leaflets, you will have four meetings with your allocated staff member. These meetings will help you focus your ideas, develop your leaflets and discuss the environmental issue.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported by academic staff throughout this module. Initially, this will be in the form of lectures and guided reading that you will need to have completed before each lecture. In the seminars you will be supported by academic staff to develop essential skills for success at degree level education and by outreach specialists from NUSTEM (Northumbria University Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) on how to communicate science to school children. By working in groups you will be able to peer support. You will have the opportunity to attend six workshops to help you find literature and develop your outreach leaflet. Your group will have meetings with a staff member, who will give you guidance in developing your leaflet.

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: Understand the scientific background of contemporary global environmental issues.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 2: Demonstrate an ability to search for, understand and use peer-reviewed literature in a collaborative group project.
• MLO 3: Develop communication skills to translate complex scientific evidence to a wider audience.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 4: Show evidence based and objective awareness for global environmental issues.
• MLO 5: Plan and develop communication skills for a target audience.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed as a group (50%) and as an individual (50%).
Group assessments:
In small groups you will choose one of five environmental issues introduced in the lectures. From this you will engage with the peer-reviewed literature to understand your environmental issue. From your reading you will produce, as a group, an annotated and correctly formatted reference list (10%) (MLOs 1 & 2). From your reading you will then produce your group’s outreach leaflet that will be sent into a local primary school with a questionnaire for the pupils. A staff member will then provide a mark on the academic side of the leaflet (40%) (MLOs 1, 2 & 4).
Individual assessments:
Using the returned questionnaires, you will write an individual 500 word reflective report on how well the children understood your attempt to communicate the environmental issue (40%) (MLOs 3 & 5). Finally, all group members will evaluate the individuals in their group for their collegiality and team working abilities (10%) (MLO2).

For the assessment, written feedback, together with the mark awarded, will enable you to feed forward key aspects into assessments in other modules at both level 3 and above.





Module abstract

This module aims to immerse you in current environmental issues from a research-rich perspective, where you will learn how to communicate these complex issues in an outreach based assessment. To do this we will explore three overarching questions:
1) What is the science behind environmental issues?
2) Why do you need to remain objective and engage with peer-reviewed research?
3) How do you communicate complex science to school children?
At the end of the module, your work is sent to a school and you receive the feedback as to whether it has helped the children to learn about the environmental issue. No pressure!
By the end of this module you will have the research skills to tackle the rest of your degree and feed your curiosity. You will also have the experience of a significant piece of outreach work that you might decide to pursue in future volunteering or career options.

Course info

UCAS Code F920

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time followed by a further 3 years full-time study or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

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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