AF7020 - Economics for Sustainability

What will I learn on this module?

This module is designed to focus on the growing challenge of the negative consequences of rising and unsustainable resource use. This module will provide you with the knowledge and understanding to critically analyse resource use and how a sustainable approach to production can create new opportunities for innovation. You will go beyond the Sustainable Development Goals and explore and analyse various international environmental agreements and national policies that seek to limit environmental damage and their impact on national micro- and macro-economic environments.

You will take a global perspective on sustainability and how it is affected by externalities, imperfect markets, and asymmetric information across a range of countries. The module will integrate economic geography, political science and business management to analyse how governments, firms and individuals respond innovatively to the economic issues and challenges that arise from globalisation and environmental protection.

The module will cover:

Understanding sustainable development and the interrelationship between the ecosystem and the economy.

Economic impact of net-zero and sustainable development.

Institutions, externalities, and sustainability.

Innovation for sustainability.

An introduction to cost-benefit analysis and other decision-making metrics.

Dynamic efficiency and sustainable development.

Strategies for sustainable international trade.

The circular economy and circular resource use.

Global welfare challenges and economic development.

At the end of this module you will have developed the skills and tools to critically analyse sustainable economic development and be able to identify the political-economic context of strategies for sustainable economic growth and development. By developing your conceptual view of the relationship between business, environment, and society, you will be able to critically examine the mutual dependence between the environment, society and economic systems and how they relate to real-world challenges of economic strategies for a sustainable future.

How will I learn on this module?

You will explore the relationship between sustainability and economic growth and development through a mix of lectures (12 hours), interactive seminars (24 hours), independent learning, structured engagement, and tutor support. Additional subject-area guest speakers may also come to present.

You will be provided with a teaching and learning plan (TLP) which will detail the weekly structure and content of the module, providing you with a guide for pre-seminar reading, research and preparatory activities. The TLP will also provide suggested learning activities to guide your independently directed (82 hours) and self-directed (82 hours) learning. You will be expected to undertake independent learning by engaging with activities such as reading newspapers, business journals and watching relevant international documentaries to broaden your knowledge of the issues and challenges surrounding sustainability, environmental protection and economic growth and development. These activities will allow you to reflect and evaluate your knowledge and skills and prepare you for contributing to interactive and student-led discussions and activities during seminars.

Lectures will provide an in-depth introduction to foundational economic concepts to analyse, appraise and evaluate a wide range of sustainability problems and policies. You will undertake a range of formative assessments, which are unassessed, such as essays, problem sets, case studies, reports, quizzes and many others to help prepare you for the summative assessment. Interactive seminars will provide an opportunity to enhance and explore your own understanding through discussion of case-studies, tutor guided and student-led discussion and practical group activities. Throughout the module, there will be an emphasis on high levels of student participation, both individual and within small groups or teams.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Throughout this module your learning will be supported by the module teaching team and your personal tutor, who will be available to provide feedback and answer your questions either in person or by email. During seminars your tutor will provide regular formative feedback to support your learning. You will be expected to engage with web-based discussion boards as an opportunity to collaborate and explore topics with peers and get informal peer review and feedback.

You will also be provided with access to a range of reading and visual materials, including journal articles, reports, international documentaries, newspaper and magazine articles, videos, blogs, and company reports through the e-Learning platform (eLP). The teaching and learning plan (TLP) will provide a wide-ranging reading list (with links) of both core and supplementary materials to guide and support your independent learning and preparation for lectures and seminars.

To assist your learning and research, you will also have access to the University’s library facilities, including extensive electronic resources, eBooks and electronic academic journal articles.

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:

Understand the nature, determinants and trajectories of economic growth and development and sustainability (MLO1).

Interpret the role of the firm, government, and individuals to the challenges of sustainable economic development across a range of countries (MLO2).

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

Integrate and apply your knowledge, and skills to foster innovative economic strategies towards sustainable development (MLO3).

Develop your research skills by investigating issues and challenges around the interdependence of the environment, society and economic systems and their impact on sustainability (MLO4).

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

Develop your interpersonal and communication skills (MLO5).

How will I be assessed?

Formative Assessment

Throughout, unassessed formative assessment will take place through applied individual and group activities. You will be encouraged to engage in research, writing and discussion through problem sets, case studies, reports, web-based quizzes, presentations, peer review activities and web-based discussion boards.

Summative Assessment

This module will be assessed through a combination of:

An infographic on a topic which links a concept presented in the lectures or seminars to innovative economic strategies for sustainability (40% weight).

A 2000-word individual research essay (60% weight) that will give you an opportunity to develop a research-based essay to capture the concepts surrounding the topic covered in your infographic. The research essay should complement the infographic and provide a research-based insight into the topic expanding on issues addressed in the infographic and demonstrate how your skills have developed over the course of the module.

Both assessment components will address (MLO1, MLO2, MLO3, MLO4 and MLO5).





Module abstract

One of the central threats of the 21st century to sustainable development has been the striking increase of use of non-renewable resources, contributing to the growing global issues of resource scarcities, political instability, and market failures. The Economics for Sustainability module will provide you with the tools and skills to contribute to the work of developing economic strategies for efficient, and circular resource use towards a sustainable future.

This module will equip you with the knowledge and understanding to critically analyse and evaluate the wide range of economic issues and challenges associated with sustainable development. This module will integrate concepts and theories from economic geography, political science, and business management to help you analyse the mutual interdependence of the environment, society, and economic systems.

You will explore key topics on the effect of institutions (e.g. property rights), externalities, and imperfect markets on the allocation of resources across a range of both developed and developing nations. This will provide you with an opportunity to examine the real-world challenges faced by countries at different levels of economic development, in balancing economic growth and sustainability and what that means for globalisation and environmental protection.

At the end of this module you will be able to apply theory and economic and sustainability frameworks to analyse micro- and macro-economic landscapes and policy options available to a range of countries towards sustainable futures.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 Years Full Time with Study Abroad
2 other options available

Department Newcastle Business School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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