AP3A99-Plants, Greenspace and Urban Sustainability

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Basic understanding of plant functioning OR A level Science or equivalent
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Tijana Blanusa

Email: t.blanusa@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Plants in towns and cities deliver a range of benefits. Through a series of lectures you will be learning how interventions such as green roofs and walls, urban gardens and street trees contribute to regulating ecosystem services (microclimate modification, flood and noise mitigation, air quality moderation, biodiversity provision). A visit to a roof garden in central Reading should stimulate thinking about what is possible in practice. We will also be discussing issues around urban food production. The module will provide answers on appropriate urban greening interventions needed to improve environmental quality, as well as human health and quality of life.


To provide the student with an overview of the role of green infrastructure in supporting sustainable living in urban environments.

To develop students’ understanding of the plants’ ability to contribute to regulating and provisioning ecosystem services in the urban context,


Assessable learning outcomes:
Assessable outcomes
-Identify environmental problems and suggest appropriate design and management interventions in urban landscapes that may help address or mitigate these problems.
-Identify the integral role certain urban greening interventions have in satisfying human nutritional, environmental and welfare needs.
-Critically evaluate terms and concepts associated with the management of the environment - ‘ecosystem services’, ‘green infrastructure’ ‘carbon footprint’ etc .
-Be familiar with the latest research findings associated with one or more of the key subject areas.

Additional outcomes:
Communication and debating skills will be developed in the lectures / seminars. Students should be able to formulate arguments and develop independent thinking.

Outline content:

The module will run over 10 weeks as a series of lectures, seminars and visits covering: 1 Climate change and lifestyle implications 2 Sustainable landscape management and carbon footprint 3 Plants for places - physiological adaptation in ornamental and landscape plants to urban stress factors 4 Green roofs / walls and the provision of ecosystem services , including a visit to a green roof off site 5 Allotments and home-grown food 6 Plants and sustainable living (biofuels, wood products, wast e management) 7 Urban green-space and environmental modification 8 Inner-city nature reserves, conservation and biodiversity 9 Health and wellbeing impacts of urban greening 10 Case study discussion and critical evaluation of a recent scientific paper 

Depending on student numbers, an additional seminar slot might be introduced.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
There will be a two-hour lecture slot each week covering lecture and seminar. Students will be asked to review both a scientific publication (assigned to them) and a lay article of their choice within the broad subject area of the module.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 16
Tutorials 2
External visits 2
Guided independent study: 80
Total hours by term 0 0
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Oral assessment and presentation 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:
A two-hour examination in the Summer Term requiring answers to two questions out of four.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Review of a scientific paper assigned to the student, highlighting contribution to understanding within a specialised area. Students will provide critical comment on the content, approaches and conclusions of the paper. Recorded podcast with Powerpoint .

Formative assessment methods:

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:
A mark of 40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
By re-examination in August / September only.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books: there is no compulsory reading which needs to be purchased (i.e. there is a large number of freely downloadable papers to aid exam preparation). A few books which are on the reading list are available from the University library. 2) Specialist equipment or materials: n/a 3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: n/a 4) Printing and binding: no compulsory requirement 5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: n/a 6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence: There is one visit to a green roof locally in Reading; the venue is a walking distance from the University (or a single bus fare)

Last updated: 27 July 2020


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