NS7910: Environmental assessment: EIA, SEA and Ecosystem services


Please note this module descriptor is indicative of the structure of this course and may be subject to change.

NS7910: Environmental assessment: EIA, SEA and Ecosystem services

Module Title Environmental assessment: EIA, SEA and Ecosystem services
Module Code NS7910
Module Tutor John Powell
School School of Natural and Social Sciences
CAT Points 15
Level of Study 7
Brief Description

This module examines how environmental decisions are undertaken in practice, through approaches such as EIA, SEA and cost –benefit analysis. The module uses case studies to assist students in developing an understanding of different assessment process, their legal context, and specific methodologies that address different types of impacts. Some group work will also be required, in order to enhance the interdisciplinary nature of this module and providing opportunities to enhance team working skills. Overall there will be an exploration of how decisions are made in different contexts within the environmental arena, at different levels, to examine alternative approaches and their advantages and disadvantages. 

Indicative Syllabus

Main areas of study:


1. The nature of environmental decision making using examples at local national, regional and global levels to illustrate key concepts: assessment approachesweighing alternatives; the policy process; ‘value’ of information; systems, risk, and economic based approaches.


2. Measuring impacts: Environmental impact Assessment (EIA); Strategic Impact Assessment (SEA); Cost-Benefit Analysis, Ecological Footprinting, Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA); Environmental Accounting and Life Cycle approaches.


3. Ecosystem services and the challenges of combining the ecological and social aspects for an integrated approach


4. The role of assessment in decision making: alternative approaches, utilisation of information and policy change.


5. Widening participation: roles of the expert and stakeholders; forms of participation; accounting for public opinion: polls, surveys, the media, the internet.


6. The importance of the decision making context; notably that of regional and spatial planning.

Learning Outcomes

A student passing this module should be able to:


1. Identify and critically analyse policy and legislation in relation to environmental assessment from a number of different spatial perspectives


2. Critically evaluate the suitability of methods for environmental assessment (to include EIA, SEA, CBA, RIA, environmental accounting, life cycle approaches and ecosystem services) in a real-life setting


3. Plan an environmental assessment using one of the approaches covered in the module and critically assess the process, the subject expertise it requires and the planning and phasing necessary


4.Critically appraise the theories that underpin the various techniques assessed in the module, including new attempts to value the environment in approaches such as ecosystem services;


5. Clearly communicate the results of an environmental assessment technique to both technical and non-technical audiences through report writing and presentations of a suitably professional standard.

Learning and Teaching Activities Scheduled Contact Hours: 36
Independent Learning Hours: 114
Assessment (For further details see the Module Guide) 001: 30% Coursework: Individual, standard written: 1250 words or equivalent
002: 70% Coursework: Individual, standard written: 2750 words or equivalent
Special Assessment Requirements None
Indicative Resources The current reading list can be found in the Module Guide, which your lecturer should make available via Moodle.

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