Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Global Challenges GEOG5120

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 40
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to global challenges, incorporating research-led teaching in geography and earth sciences. It is problem-led and uses interdisciplinary teaching teams to deliver case study examples of contemporary environmental and social issues. Environments and communities across the world are under stress in our changing climate, with new ecological, social and political vulnerabilities emerging in diverse spaces. Students will benefit from learning across the human and environmental sciences, gaining technical knowledge of geophysical and environmental processes underpinned by critical philosophies and ethics to enact meaningful change for healthier, more sustainable Earth futures.  


1 hour lecture and 1hour seminar per week for 20 weeks

Requirements of Entry

Normally entry to an Earth Futures MSc programme

Excluded Courses





Presentation/Debate (25%) (links to ILO 2)


Essay/Critical Review (50%) (ILOs 1& 3)


ThematicPodcast (25%) (ILOs 4&5)

Course Aims

The aim of this course is to introduce students to critical geographical knowledges, approaches and techniques to address global social and environmental challenges in the Anthropocene. This includes a critical understanding of

■ the philosophies underpinning environmental science and sustainable development;

■ how resources are managed, governed and exploited;

■ the geopolitical effects of resource extraction, distribution and circulation;

■ the politics of global mobility, borders and security

■ scientific approaches and understandings of environmental problems

■ ethical approaches to transformative action for sustainable earth futures.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Analyse and interpret scientific data on the environment

■ Critically discuss and explain how scientific knowledges about the Anthropocene (nature and environment) are produced and mobilised by different actors, with consideration of the role of alternative/indigenous knowledges in earth futures

■ Produce sustained arguments in written and oral form about how particular resources (organic and inorganic) are managed, governed and exploited

■ Produce a reflective account that articulates the connection between social and environmental challenges and inequality or injustice

■ Evaluate transformative approaches to environmental change and climate justice

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.