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Water and energy resources

Module information>

Academic Direction
Birkbeck, University of London
Modes of Study

This module introduces students to the Earth’s most important physical resources: water and energy systems and the relationship between them, the ‘water-energy nexus’.

The module assesses the environmental impacts of sustainable and non-renewable energy technologies and the rapid development of key renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind. It examines national and international policies to provide sustainable water and energy resources and to reduce carbon emissions from water and energy use, and support the UN Sustainable Development Goals 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy). It also explores local reactions to water and energy projects and interrogates inequalities in access to clean water and reliable energy.

Topics covered

Main topics of the module include:

  • Water and energy systems, the hydrological cycle and the water-energy nexus
  • Resource exploitation, climate change and environmental hazards such as pollution to groundwater and air
  • The future of water and energy demand; population change and per capita energy and water usage
  • Futures for water and energy supply; renewable energy technologies, sustainable water systems
  • Managing resources at international scale: transboundary dams and rivers, UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • National and local policies: fossil fuel vs renewable subsidies; transport and city planning
  • Water and energy at home and in the neighbourhood: sustainable cities, housing and struggles for access to water
  • Mapping energy use and potential

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you will be expected to be able to:  

  • articulate the scientific concepts of the hydrological cycle and the water-energy nexus.
  • outline the physical principles of energy consumption and energy harvesting technologies.
  • evaluate the environmental and social impacts of sustainable and unsustainable water and energy technologies, applying academic concepts and theories.
  • assess the effectiveness, equity and trade-offs of different sustainable water and energy supply policies at global, regional and local levels and over time, and using case studies, consider constructive solutions.
  • apply academic concepts to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of water or energy use and potential in one region/ country.
  • utilise GIS software to present and communicate data effectively.


  • Final report (100%)

Entry requirements

To qualify to register for a stand-alone individual module, applicants will need a bachelor’s degree or Aegrotat (certificate) from an institution acceptable to the University.