AP0AE1-Foundation Programme: Environment, Ecology and Sustainability

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Laura Girling

Email: l.girling@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Develop an overview of the principles and processes underpinning the earth’s natural systems, explore the ways humans interact with the physical and living environment, and formulate a basic understanding of contemporary issues in this area. You will learn through workshops, lectures, seminars, IT practical sessions and develop basic practical field skills. If you are a student on a foundation year programme aiming to pursue further studies in environmental management, animal and zoological sciences, ecology and conservation, biological sciences and agriculture, then this module is particularly relevant for you.


This module aims to provide the student with:

  • An overview of the principles and processes underpinning the functioning of the earth’s natural systems

  • An opportunity to explore the ways humans interact with the physical and living environment

  • A basic understanding of some contemporary issues including sustainability

  • Some basic field practical skills

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • Describe and discuss the main components and underpinning processes of the physical environment that supports life on earth

  • Describe and discuss key features of the living environment and selected key concepts in ecology

  • Describe and evaluate interactions between humans and the physical and living environments along with selected associated contemporary is sues

Additional outcomes:

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Develop basic communication and practical field skills

  • Enhance selected soft skills e.g. time management and organisation

  • Enhance their library, IT and language skills

Outline content:

The module content comprises of a series of lectures, supported by a programme of seminars, field work and external visits.

The module content will explore the physical environment; its components and resources, including topics relating to land and soils, atmosphere and water, and how they support life. The living environment; its components, resources and diversity, including major ecological concepts relating to ecosystems, populations and communities will also be studi ed. The interaction between the living and physical environments will be discussed.

Human interactions with the living and physical environments will be introduced, particularly in the context of exploitation of resources. Consequences of human interactions with the environment and the need to develop sustainable practices will be addressed.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Lectures introduce the student to the principles of the subjects studied. Seminars provide opportunities for further discussion and application of knowledge to problems and questions to enhance understanding and provide feedback. Homework assignments develop the student's skills in analysing and solving problems and build skills ready for assessments.

Field work and external visits (subject to host availability) enhance understanding of theoretical concepts and provide some practical experience.

A weekly tutorial ‘drop in clinic’ provides an opportunity for students to seek additional help, if required.

The contact hours described are indicative only.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16 16 9
Seminars 8 8 3
Tutorials 10 10 4
Practicals classes and workshops 8 16 6
Guided independent study: 113 113 60
Total hours by term 155 163 82
Total hours for module 400

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 20
Class test administered by School 20

Summative assessment- Examinations:

A two hour examination

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will complete a written assignment and in class tests at intervals during the Autumn and Spring Terms.

Formative assessment methods:

Opportunities for formative work and feedback will be provided through homework problem assignments and the seminars programme, where class and tutor feedback discussions will take place.

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.
The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:

By examination in August with continuous assessment carried forward if it is to the advantage of the student.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

  1. Required text books: A small number of recommended text books are available in the library on a short loan basis, or to purchase if students prefer.  Recommended journal articles can be accessed for free through the library.

  2. Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: Students will need sturdy footwear, warm clothing and waterproofs for visits in the field.  

Last updated: 27 July 2020


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