BIOL40140 Science and Policy

Academic Year 2024/2025

The complexity of addressing global environmental problems such that more sustainable paths of development can be identified demands that a new approach to learning about our environment is taken. The foundation of this new approach – often called a transdisciplinary approach – is dialogue between experts and non-experts. However, scientists are not trained to enter such a dialogue and their effective participation in the dialogue is hampered by a lack of reflection on underlying values and disciplinary frameworks within which scientists conduct their work. In this module, we are going to reflect on the work of scientists so as to learn about our own values and disciplinary frameworks. Being able to articulate more clearly what the scientific method involves and how scientific knowledge about the world is gained will help to establish a dialogue with other experts and non-experts who bring a multitude of perspectives to bear on the problem at hand. Through the integration of these different perspectives, the transdisciplinary approach allows everybody involved in the dialogue to develop a shared, more holistic understanding of the problem and anticipate long-term consequences of addressing the problem in a particular way. This should clarify options and ease the decision making. Furthermore, the dialogue can be used to communicate uncertainties about the anticipated outcomes, and develop adaptive capacity through a framework for learning over time.

Student feedback: This module is being revised and adjusted every year based on student feedback received. In the next academic year, the on campus discussions sessions will be complemented by an online discussion board to enhance interactivity in the module. The weighting of the final project has been made more explicit and the relevance of module content to the science policy interface is highlighted throughout the module.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:

• Give an outline of how scientific knowledge is acquired
• Understand how a multitude of questions can be asked about a complex system reflecting the different perspectives of experts and non-experts on an environmental problem
• Identify relevant knowledge and use an integrative approach to show connections between perspectives and to formulate a conceptual framework for deciding on action
• Have experienced how a simulation model (in particular agent-based simulation models) can be used in the open source software Netlogo.
• Use an interview to find out about the mental framework of stakeholders at the science-policy interface.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning


Conversation Class


Online Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module is discussion-based both with peers and with the lecturers. It also uses problem-based learning through the final assignment. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

Basic science class

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
ENVB40380 - Managing Sc. & Policy O/L

Science and Society (BOTN40050)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered

Not yet recorded.

Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback is provided on weekly assignments by discussing these online with peers and in-class. Feedback on final assignment is provided on proposal for project and final submission.

Name Role
Dr Adam Kane Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Florence Renou-Wilson Lecturer / Co-Lecturer