ENVU9SE: Energy and Society

Co-ordinator: Professor David Copplestone

Prerequisites: ENVU5A5 or ABR001

Module Description

To examine the how society and energy use and production are linked. To consider different options for power generation including renewables, fossil fuels and nuclear exploring their links with climate change, the policy need for a secure energy supply and the environmental impact of the extraction and production of electricity. Specific examples will include the nuclear fuel cycle including the environmental impacts of nuclear fuel reprocessing and dealing with the radioactive wastes generated, conventional thermal power generation sources (and the wastes generated) and renewables. The effect of Government policy on environmental impact will be explored along with information on how stakeholders are engaged in the decision making process (using as an example the volunteerism approach for local communities to host the proposed geological disposal facility for intermediate and high level radioactive wastes.

The module will also focus on sustainable practices and technological developments such as sustainable housing and transport can influence aspects of energy efficiency.

Module Objectives

Acquired Skills:
By the end of this unit, students should be able to demonstrate skills in:

  • Demonstrate their knowledge of energy production processes and their associated environmental impacts with a focus on current topical issues (e.g. fracking).
  • Be able to examine political and social issues associated with energy generation methods critically and to appreciate the differences in opinion regarding the environmental and human impacts of different power generation options. This will link to understanding the influence stakeholders can have on energy policy.
  • Understand the role of energy efficiency in producing a sustainable future and establish the role of sustainable housing in this.
  • Analyse and interpret risk assessment tool outputs that are typically used in the assessment of environmental impacts of different energy production systems
  • assess data quality and critically interpret data
  • work in groups and present information concisely and persuasively in debate/discussion
  • demonstrate critical reasoning and produce concise, well-structured essays

Core Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate their knowledge of energy production processes and their associated waste management issues.
  • Examine political and social issues critically and to appreciate the differences in opinion regarding the environmental and human impacts of different power generation options.
  • Understand the links between policy and energy production and how stakeholders can influence the design making process.
  • Establish the role of energy efficiency in producing a sustainable future.
  • Apply critical reasoning in written and oral communication skills
  • Produce concise and structured essay writing
  • Answer unseen questions on the module content in a time limited context

Assessment

Coursework 40%
Examination 40%
Practical 20%
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