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Critical Infrastructures for Sustainability - London Thames Fieldtrip


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenors: Dr Alanna Bodo, Dr Mara Nogueira
  • Assessment: a 1500-word essay (40%) and 3000-word fieldtrip report (60%)

Module description

The River Thames is a London landmark but also a key urban infrastructure that has facilitated the commercial and industrial success of the city. In the context of the current ecological crisis, the river is also under pressure due to a series of environmental challenges facing the city, such as floods, draughts, waste management and access to water. The river is also a site of urban regeneration where industrial warehouses are redeveloped into high-end flats catering to the global elites, a process that exacerbates a long-standing housing crisis.

In this module we will explore some of London’s most pressing social and environmental problems through a series of lectures and fieldtrips centring the River Thames as a site where critical infrastructures for socio-environmental sustainability coalesce. The module includes three fieldtrips to different parts of the river, and each of them will bring together a human and environmental geographer to discuss socio-environmental problems and solutions, such as flood control, sewage and housing.

Indicative syllabus

  • Introduction: the River Thames as a critical infrastructure for sustainability
  • Lecture and fieldtrip: The Thames Barrier
  • Lecture and fieldtrip: London’s sewage network
  • Lecture and fieldtrip: Water and urban regeneration

Learning objectives

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

  • understand the key social and environmental challenges facing the city of London
  • understand how sustainable solutions for London interrelate with social inequalities and wider dynamics affecting the city
  • understand the ways in which the River Thames presents challenges and opportunities for a more sustainable urban future
  • understand the role of critical urban infrastructures linked to the river for implementing urban sustainability
  • demonstrate practical knowledge about policies, projects and initiatives in the River Thames that impact socio-environmental sustainability
  • understand the challenges involved in implementing key sustainability concepts and models in practice
  • demonstrate a range of study skills including: critical thinking, data collection and writing a field report.