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Manchester Sustainable City Project

Unit code: EART20002
Credit Rating: 10
Unit level: Level 2
Teaching period(s): Semester 2
Offered by School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit?: Y




To provide a practical opportunity for teams of 2nd year undergraduate students to engage with external clients and work on 'real world' projects. Teams of students explore both theoretical and practical issues around environmental sustainability in an applied and urban context, and make a demonstrable contribution to Manchester as an aspiring ecologically/environmentally sustainable city. Clients include local NGOs/charities, small/medium enterprises, larger companies, local authorities and non-academic functions at the University (e.g., Estates). The course unit is designed to develop graduate level professional skills through the planning and delivery of a project for external clients. The activities combine scholarly learning with more experiential practical problem solving and professional skills development to enhance employability


This is a team project based course unit with compulsory attendance required at weekly project meetings and workshops, with other activities to be completed outside of the timetabled contact sessions. This is not a lecture based course. 100% of the assessment is through coursework. There will be no formal exams.

Over the past few years relationships have been established with a growing number of local organisations, each providing projects which challenge teams of students to work on various aspects of Manchester's sustainability agenda. Past projects have ranged from fuel poverty to a community bee project, and from transport and car parking issues to waste management, environmental monitoring, urban ecology and land use.

In teams, students negotiate a project brief with their client, take ownership of the required planning and implementation tasks and then deliver the agreed outputs within an agreed timeframe. During weekly project/workshop meetings each student team meets with a designated PG demonstrator/facilitator and member of staff who will provide advisory support. Students also present aspects of their project work to the other student teams. The level of client interaction is likely to vary, but it is hoped that the clients will be able to attend an initial 'meet the client session', then maintain brief contact throughout the duration of the project, and finally attend an assessed seminar presentation.

Individual formative and summative assignments include: essays, a weekly media journal, a project diary and reflective appraisals of individual and group academic and professional performance. They

Peer assessment will be included for the group work outputs, and peer moderation will be used to take account of varying individual contributions to group work.

Learning outcomes

  • Knowledge of the sustainable cities agenda
  • Understanding of the complex interdependencies between components of the urban environment and wider sustainable development contexts
  • Understanding of scholarship and holistic approaches in the analysis of complex problems and the development of solutions
  • Experience of project planning and management
  • Ability to negotiate and work to the specifications of a project brief as part of a team
  • Ability to reflect professionally on personal learning and interactions within a team setting
  • Writing and presentationskills
  • Ability to identify, synthesize, critically evaluate and develop familiarity with relevant research and policy issues as articulated in peer reviewed academic journals and from other appropriate sources.

Assessment Further Information

100% Coursework

Individual (45%)

Professional project diary including notes of all project activities, minutes meetings and discussions. (15%)

Weekly media diary & journal exercise culminating in a short essay. (15%)

Reflective portfolio of appraisals addressing individual and team professional performance and academic learning. (15%)

Group (55%) [With individual student marks moderated via assessment of individual written and verbal contributions to group outputs, and inter-peer assessment of individual project contributions]

Co-authored client report (30%)

Final team presentation for client (25%)


This is an EBL course unit. Staff and facilitators (including PhD students from the Sustainable Consumption Institute Centre for Doctoral Training Centre), will guide student teams in enquiry-based learning with a focus on shared ownership of project planning, implementation and delivery. Student teams will also be guided in themed discussions relating to team-working and cross-disciplinary working that will familiarise them with the inter-personal processes involved in collaborative project work, and serve as stimuli for the individual reflective portfolio assignment. Students will receive feedback from facilitators, academic staff and client organisations. Online learning resources will include a Blackboard learning space populated with directed reading and assignments details.

Recommended reading

There are no set textbooks for this course unit, but students will be required to search for relevant books and journals and clearly demonstrate links to their specific project within their final report. They will also be

provided with web resources containing broad information on sustainable development principles and


Study hours

  • Practical classes & workshops - 24 hours
  • Independent study hours - 76 hours

Teaching staff


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