Global Challenges in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Water Conflicts, Water Cultures

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
13 September 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA F85212 Environment, Society and Culture,
MA F85224 Environment, Society and Culture,
MA F852MO Environment, Society and Culture

Module description

This team-taught capstone module explores a number of real-world challenges currently confronting the globe from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Through guest lectures from experts in different disciplines, students will be presented with a range of global challenges. In the discussion seminars and in their assessments, students will analyse historical causes and consider strategies to tackle particular challenges.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To provide students with a grounding in the challenges facing the globe today.

  • To explore issues related to global challenges and be able to relate those issues to the relevant political and social contexts.

  • To stimulate students to develop skills in written communication through the capstone project and through oral communication and debate in seminars.

  • To encourage students to think and write in both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary ways.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a substantial knowledge and understanding of the material considered on the module, specifically the challenges facing the globe.

  2. Draw connections and critically evaluate a diverse range of written forms produced in different geopolitical contexts.

  3. Apply interdisciplinary research methods to identify, select, and retrieve a wide range of relevant source material to address complex socio-environmental challenges.

  4. Write in an informed, critical and argumentative manner on the material covered by the module.

  5. Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, or conflicting evidence, and communicate their conclusions clearly.

  6. Compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure, thinking critically and constructively.

  7. Present a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications.

  8. Be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them.

  9. Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of a selected research area.

Module information

Access to water is one of the most urgent global challenges facing us today. Vital for health and well-being, as well as integral to indigenous cultures and industrial processes, water is a threatened commons and contested commodity. In this module, we will explore global and local case studies that highlight challenges of scarcity, contamination, privatization, and climate change, and the cultural importance of bodies of water for diverse communities. We will examine water-related problems, such as economic and urban development, grassroots activism, political conflict, community relations, heritage and well-being. The module will engage with local rivers, such as the River Colne which borders the campus of the University of Essex.

The module is taught by academics from across the University, whose contributions encompass a wide range of fields including policy-making, politics, law, social sciences, the arts and sciences. It will also involve meetings with stakeholders and organizations in the wider community.

This methodology is designed to encourage you to develop a holistic and informed approach to research, project development, teamwork and inspirational leadership that will prepare you for the world beyond your degree.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour combined lecture and seminar per week.

There will also be a Reading Week when no teaching will take place, exact week to be confirmed.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   1000-word individual report  01/03/2024  20% 
Coursework   3500-word research project  29/04/2024  80% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Lisa Blackmore, email: lisa.blackmore@essex.ac.uk.
PHAIS Postgraduate Queries: phaispg@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr H Camilla Smith
University of Birmingham
Lecturer in Art History
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


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