ENVB40380 Managing the Interface between Science and Policy (On-line)

Academic Year 2023/2024

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.

This module is the online equivalent of the on-campus module BIOL40140 Science and Policy. It should be taken by students completing distance learning courses only.

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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) implemented in the open source software Netlogo can help to anticipate outcomes once a conceptual framework has been defined.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning


Conversation Class




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module is based on reflective exercises in response to readings. There are a number of practical exercises that help students develop skills to apply what they have learned. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

Some basic science background

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
BIOL40140 - Science and Policy

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Online activities and engagement Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: Interview and essay on individual project Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Essay: 800 word essay Week 4 n/a Graded No



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

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Discussions will be held using Brightspace discussion board and student will have to provide feedback to each other. Feedback is provided on continuous assessment before next assignment is due.