SUST40030 Interdisciplinary Project

Academic Year 2023/2024

Building from your first three years in the sustainability program, this module allows groups of students to focus on a single sustainability challenge and explore it from an interdisciplinary perspective in more detail. The challenges that you will pick from have been submitted by partner organisations from their own activities. Thus, these are real-world challenges that are currently being addressed. Partner organizations will be available for meetings with research groups, simulating consultant-client meetings. Students are asked to use their varied backgrounds in sustainability to explore and address their challenges. They will draw on skills and information to develop strategies and solutions as interdisciplinary teams, drawing on input and guidance from a range of relevant experts.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module you should be able to;
o Undertake an in-depth assessment of a real-world challenge in sustainability.
o Work in an interdisciplinary manner, evaluating different perspectives and knowledge bases in pursuit of a solution to sustainability challenges.
o Integrate information and ideas from varied sources to form a coherent message.
o Learn to clearly and concisely disseminate ideas and messaging to a variety of audiences.

Indicative Module Content:

Your task is to engage with a current challenge under the topic of sustainability. You will be provided a list of challenges/scenarios that have been collected from businesses and organizations that engage with sustainability.
Imagine that you are part of a think-tank or consulting company trying to assess a particular sustainability challenge and giving guidance on how best to address it. The module will proceed in a similar manner to that of a real-world environment where you will receive a project brief, and then have 2 “client meetings” with the partner organization that supplied the challenge or scenario where you can share your progress and ask for clarification about aspects of the project.
The deliverables from your project will comprise:
1) A written report that will comprise up to twenty pages of text, diagrams and images (plus a list of references). The font should not be smaller than 12 point and the margins should not be smaller than 2 cm. It should have sections that (a) set the context and identify the challenge, including relevance to one or more SDG goals, targets and indicators (b) propose one or more possible solutions (c) give your initial assessment of what would be required to develop and apply the solutions (d) identify pros and cons for each solution and identify key barriers (factors that may impede the proposed solution) and enablers (that could be put in place to help it succeed) and (e) finish with analysis of importance of your solution and its potential ramifications.
2) A mixed media product (for example: a series of short videos, a collection of infographics, a narrative film or story, a website, etc.) that can be shared on social media that both communicates the relevance of your project and informs about your solution. In addition, this mixed media product will need to advertise an upcoming symposium that will be held at UCD at the end of the term (timing TBD).
3) Create a poster to be presented at a UCD symposium on sustainability. The goal of the poster is to present your findings to a wider audience. During the course of the symposia, you will stand with your poster and answer questions from the wider UCD audience (including other members of the sustainability program).

As with projects in earlier modules, information gathered from resources, other than your own work, must be appropriately attributed, i.e. cited and referenced, in line with the principles and guidelines laid out at The reference list does not need to fit within the page limit.
As a group, you will prepare a group contract using the template from SCI10010 Principles of Scientific Enquiry so that you can agree on the principles for working together as a team. There will be an opportunity to assess each other’s contributions and anyone who does not contribute properly may have their individual grade reduced by the module coordinator.

Week Activity Responsible
1 Introductory Lecture + group activity + group contracts (Select projects)
Sam Kelley (with teaching team)

2 Work plan development
Sam Kelley (with teaching team)

3 Group Research
Sam Kelley (with teaching team)

4 Group Research
Sam Kelley (with teaching team)

5 1st Client meeting (in person or virtual) ~Meet with project organizations

6 Group Research
Sam Kelley (with teaching team)

7 Lecture/workshop on communication (Oct. 26th @ 10 am)
Patrick Brodie

8 Lecture/workshop on narrative building (Nov. 3rd @ Noon)
Tressa de Loughry

9 Group Research
Sam Kelley (with teaching team)

10 2nd Client Meeting (in person or virtual) ~Meet with project organizations

11 Project wrap-up
Sam Kelley (with teaching team)

12 Sustainability symposium Teaching team + available member organizations

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module will be largely student led. Learning will be primarily based on interdisciplinary team work to explore and address sustainability challenges. All contact hours will be in an open classroom enabling group-based engagement guided by input from academic staff. These sessions will be supplemented by lectures and workshops, concluding with an end-of-term symposium. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Group Project: This group project will form primary piece of work for the module Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Seminar: Contribution to group discussions and in class activities Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No



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

• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Name Role
Dr Mark Coughlan Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Adam Kane Lecturer / Co-Lecturer