KE5029 - Green cities and nature-based solutions

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn about the ecological impact of cities and tools for enhancing urban biodiversity, liveability and sustainability. The module begins with an introduction to global trends in urbanisation and the relevance of cities for realising the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The module will then explore the multiple challenges posed by urbanisation and identify solutions to these challenges. The two overarching questions we will seek to answer are:

1. What are the key environmental, biodiversity and climate change challenges and opportunities facing cities?
2. How can nature-based solutions contribute to addressing the challenges and opportunities of urbanisation?

Skills developed include the ability to:

• Understand global trends in urbanisation and the relevance of cities for the UN Sustainable Development Goals
• Identify and assess the contribution of cities to climate change and strategies for mitigation and adaptation
• Understand what constitutes an urban ecosystem, and the key drivers of urban biodiversity
• Identify the benefits that urban ecosystems provide to society (“ecosystem services”)
• Assess the importance of governance, stewardship and environmental justice in cities
• Identify, use and assess relevant planning and policy tools and concepts, with an emphasis on nature-based solutions and green infrastructure
• Critically evaluate interventions to enhance urban nature to address societal challenges
• Develop in-depth specialist knowledge of techniques relevant to green cities and urban ecosystems

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through a combination of lectures, practical workshop sessions and external visits that will be delivered by a number of staff. Beyond timetabled sessions, your independent study will be guided and supported through your engagement with a range of interactive learning resources accessible online via the module eLP site.

Lectures and workshops will be used to introduce and develop key issues, concepts and principles across the range of topics covered on the module; in effect they will act as a framework or scaffolding to support your learning. You will then further develop and build your knowledge, understanding and expertise by engaging with the online, interactive reading lists made available via the module’s electronic learning platform (eLP).

How will I be supported academically on this module?

All teaching materials for the module are made available on the module eLP site. 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.

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: Assess the key challenges that increasing urbanisation presents, and evaluate the role of nature-based solutions for addressing climate change and enhancing urban biodiversity and sustainability
• MLO 2: Identify the constituents of an urban ecosystem, and the key drivers of urban biodiversity and the provision of urban ecosystem services
• MLO 3: Describe and evaluate the different planning and policy tools for supporting the delivery of nature-based solutions in cities

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 4: Effectively communicate complex ideas and arguments and propose solutions to human impacts on the urban environment, and issues challenging urban biodiversity and sustainability.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
1. MLO 5: Effectively appraise aspects of morality, ethics and justice which are implicit within the planning and management of urban ecosystems, and to think independently, understand and justify your opinions.

How will I be assessed?

The module is assessed through one assignment, worth 100% of the overall module. The assignment involves the design of a policy brief for a target audience and will focus on solutions for enhancing the environmental sustainability of cities. This assignment addresses MLOs 1 – 5.

Formative support and feedback for the assessment will be provided through discussion with the module tutor both within timetabled classes and outside formal scheduled teaching as part of the Department’s open door policy.





Module abstract

How do we plan, design and manage our cities to make them better places for nature and people? Over half of the global population, around 3.5 billion people, live in towns and cities and this is expected to reach 68% by 2050. Given these population trends, cities are increasingly recognised as principal contributors to our global sustainability challenges including air, noise and water pollution, with associated negative impacts on nature, human health and well-being. Cities also account for 70% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, and urbanisation is a key factor in the global loss of biodiversity driven by climate change which poses perhaps the biggest challenge facing society. However, cities also bring many benefits for societal advancement and quality of life particularly through technological advancement. In this module we will explore the science and policy tools that seek to address and mitigate the negative impacts of urbanisation, with a focus on understanding the contribution that “nature-based solutions” (NBS) offer to these challenges. NBS are solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, and can play a key role in simultaneously tackling environmental, social and economic problems in cities. Completion of this module will give you the understanding, knowledge and tools to design, deliver, test and evaluate interventions for sustainable change in urban ecosystems.

Course info

UCAS Code L700

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

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.


Useful Links

Find out about our distinctive approach at

Admissions Terms and Conditions

Fees and Funding

Admissions Policy

Admissions Complaints Policy