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The environmental web

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This interdisciplinary course examines contemporary issues such as biodiversity and climate change in order to develop your environmental literacy, and enable you to take part in informed debate and action. It draws on a wide variety of disciplines to investigate environmental changes, their consequences, and implications for action. You will explore environmental materials on the web used to publish data, implement policy, debate issues, and promulgate views – learning how to navigate, analyse and evaluate such information. You will need some knowledge of the environment – for example, from one of our Level 2 science, technology or environmental courses.

Modules at Level 3 assume that you are suitably prepared for study at this level. If you want to take a single module to satisfy your career development needs or pursue particular interests, you don’t need to start at Level 1 but you do need to have adequately prepared yourself for OU study in some other way. Check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service to make sure that you are sufficiently prepared.

Register for the course


Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£1625.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£1625.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£1465.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£775.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.
Start End Fee Register
31 Jan 2015 Oct 2015
£2632.00
Choose country above

Registration opens on 30/04/14

See below for information about part time tuition fee loans available for study towards a qualification.

This course is expected to start for the last time in February 2017.

*Fees may vary by country.

What you will study

The course draws on insights from sciences, technology, social sciences and humanities to make sense of contemporary environmental changes, with particular emphasis on the:

  • interdependencies of environments and human activities
  • role of natural processes and human activities in causing and responding to environmental changes
  • relevance and consequences of these environmental changes for human societies, and for other living forms
  • existing and possible responses of contemporary societies to environmental changes
  • difficulties faced in understanding environments, and in taking appropriate environmental actions in conditions of appreciable uncertainty.

The course approaches current environmental issues by using the World Wide Web in three complementary ways:

  • for communication with and among students
  • as a source of teaching resources on selected environmental topics
  • as a metaphor for the web-like interrelationships that link environmental issues and different approaches to them.

The course is organised into four blocks and the end-of-module assessment (EMA). Each of the blocks are supported by web-based activities and take up an important environmental issue. The block titles are: Block 1 Environmental changes: global challenges, Block 2 Biodiversity and ecosystems, Block 3 Climate change: from science to sustainability, Block 4 Sustainability and water management.

At the end of the course you will complete the EMA, which is divided into three parts. For Part A you will research a chosen environmental topic using the resources of the web, and then present your findings through web pages that you will design, using the U316 wiki. Part B is a project review reflecting on your own progress, and Part C will be a report on a topic that will be posted on the website near the end of the course.

The web lends itself especially well to a course dealing with current environmental issues because it is used by business, intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental organisations, and by individuals, to publish environmental data, to transmit and implement environmental policy, to debate issues and to promulgate particular views. The course aims to show you how to navigate through the huge amount of environmental material available on the web. You will learn how to: acquire information and data from a variety of sources; analyse, integrate and summarise that information and data; use the information/data acquired to test hypotheses; determine where uncertainties lie; and evaluate different approaches to environmental issues and the reliability of online resources.

You will use the internet as a means of communication, collaborating with others in planning and carrying out tasks and debating environmental issues with other students in online discussions moderated by your tutor. A few of these online discussions will be assessed. Your skills will be developed gradually so that, by the end of the course, you will be fully equipped to complete the EMA, in which you will plan, research, and write about an environmental topic in a form suitable for presentation on the web.

Much of the teaching and assessment for this course is online. You will need a personal computer with internet access, plus some experience of using the internet. The course requires about 18 hours of study time per week and it is necessary to complete certain parts of the course, such as online discussions and other collaborative activities, in particular weeks of the year.

The course should appeal to students from many backgrounds and will be of particular interest to you if you enjoy interdisciplinary study. It is suitable for you if you are interested in the environment, and/or following a degree in environmental studies or (the planned) environmental science.

Entry

This is a Level 3 course. Level 3 courses build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at Levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably with The Open University. You will be expected to work more independently than for Level 2 study. 

You will need a knowledge of environmental issues such as you would get from Environment: sharing a dynamic planet (DST206) or the discontinued module U216, or other Level 2 science, technology or social science environmental courses. 

You must be familiar with using a personal computer, including word-processing and spreadsheet applications, and be able to work online, using email and the internet. We provide some guidance for beginners about working with spreadsheets and creating diagrams but otherwise it is assumed that you have the necessary computing skills. 

It is essential that you establish whether or not your background and experience give you a sound basis on which to tackle the course, since students who are appropriately prepared have the best chance of completing their studies successfully. The Science Faculty booklet Are You Ready For U316? can be viewed or printed as a PDF from the Are you ready for science? website

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

Preparatory work

If you do not already have the necessary internet skills, we advise you to study sections 3 and 4 of the Safari materials, provided by the OU Library, before you begin your study of U316.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

If you have seriously impaired sight or manual dexterity you may find using the web and the DVD-ROM challenging. For visually impaired students a number of activities such as the preparation of diagrams, collection of field data and use of climate modelling tools may require the assistance of a sighted helper. You can contact the Curriculum Manager for more information.

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical, scientific, and foreign language materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Written transcripts are available for the audio-visual material. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:

  • help to determine your study requirements and how to request the support that you need  
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs)
  • using a computer for OU study
  • equipment and other support services that we offer
  • examination arrangements
  • how to contact us for advice and support both before you register and while you are studying.

Study materials

What's included

Course books, other printed materials, DVD-ROM, a website, web-based materials, online forums.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this course. It includes online activities – you can access using a web browser – and some course software provided on disk.

  • If you have purchased a new desktop or laptop computer running Windows since 2007 you should have no problems completing the computer-based activities.
  • A netbook, tablet or other mobile computing device is not suitable for this course – check our Technical requirements section.
  • If you have an Apple Mac or Linux computer – please note that you can only use it for this course by running Windows on it using Boot Camp or a similar dual-boot system.

You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. You will take part in tutorial discussions through the internet, and at a day school, at the start of week 6 (in March) of the course, that you are strongly advised to attend. The location of the day schools will depend on the distribution of students taking the course. 

Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with the Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

The end-of-module assessment (EMA) takes the place of an examination. You must obtain a pass mark on both the TMAs and the EMA to pass the course. You will be given more detailed information when you begin the course.

Future availability

The details given here are for the course that starts in February 2014. We expect it to be available once a year.

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Student Reviews

“Having finished my degree, I found U316 to be the most time consuming module I have ever undertaken. The workload ...”
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“An enjoyable course. Apart from the obvious need to be pretty computer literate, the main thing to remember (as has ...”
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Distance learning

The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information read Distance learning explained.

Are you already an OU student ? Go to StudentHome for information on choosing your next module.
Course facts
About this course:
Course code U316
Credits 60
OU Level 3
SCQF level 10
FHEQ level 6
Course work includes:
6 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

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