Stork standing on plastic

Join the global plastics debate

Explore solution-focused action on plastic pollution

Photo credit: James Wakibia

Credits: 20 Level 4 credits

Mode of study: additional part-time online study, to run alongside degree and other main courses. Composed of short sessions (up to 1 hour) uploaded weekly with an additional bank of topic resources added to Moodle to support each session.

Schedule: 12 week module from 23 January to 19 May 2024 with weekly uploads of topic content and interactive activities to Moodle (see timetable below for more details). One assessment option to be chosen from each topic block 1, 2 and 3.

Level: suitable for undergraduate and postgraduate students of all year groups


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Module overview

Our planet is suffocating in plastic. We need to take radical action and find solutions to halt the plastics crisis and transition to a world that’s more sustainable. The University of Portsmouth is at the forefront of the global plastics debate.

This 12-week optional enrichment module, led by the University’s Revolution Plastics Institute team, will explore and discuss innovative research being undertaken on our doorstep to facilitate solutions to this plastics crisis. This transdisciplinary module will allow you to broaden your knowledge of plastic pollution and its impacts, explore and develop creativity, communication, and research skills while gaining an additional 20 University credits. The module aims to be a fundamental tool that can be integrated into a range of employability skills, broadening perspectives and increasing the depth of learning outside of your degree course.

The first part of this module will explore society’s relationship with plastic and the environmental and human health impacts of plastic pollution, with a particular focus on microplastics. The second part of the module will begin to look at solution-focused action on plastic pollution. For example, exploring creative and arts-based approaches to research, community engagement, and behaviour change, including case studies from the Global South. Then we will look at international policy options as mechanisms for change. This will provide the opportunity to enhance your understanding of the role of plastic in our society, and global plastic pollution issues to communicate effectively and creatively engage with communities. 

An assessment of your progress will be conducted via an online submission of your choice of three written and/or arts-based artefacts from a pool of options to form your portfolio. Module credits will be earned as you build this portfolio of evidence demonstrating your ability to engage with problem solving challenges. There will be an opportunity at the end of the module to showcase and celebrate your achievements with academics and your module peer group.

The module offers a way for you to develop the characteristics of a Portsmouth graduate while demonstrating desirable skills and attributes sought after by graduate employers. The course will help you demonstrate evidence of the University Hallmarks, particularly:

  • Be intellectually curious, and able to think independently, analytically and creatively
  • Generate ideas and develop creative solutions of benefit to society and the economy
  • Be responsible, respectful, informed and active global citizens
  • Be able to locate, access and critically engage with information
  • Be self-reflective, embrace challenges and seize opportunities for development

Note that this is a standalone enrichment module and the extra 20 credits do not count towards your degree course, but they are a way to demonstrate valuable additional skills and attributes.

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About the Revolution Plastics Institute

The Revolution Plastics Institute researchers are working non-stop for real change in Portsmouth and globally, collaborating with international organisations on mission-driven research projects to further evidence and understand what a sustainable future can look like. For example, we are home to the Global Plastics Policy Centre, and are working with the UN Environment Programme to help shape a global plastic treaty to end plastic pollution. In Portsmouth, we have used citizen science to run the first city-wide plastic litter surveys, together with a consumer behaviour survey on plastic use and disposal trends in the city. We also work with communities in lower-middle income countries (LMICs), using arts-based and participatory research methods to catalyse transitions to reduce plastic pollution.


23 January 2023 - 19 May 2024

  1. Introduction to the Revolution Plastics Institute and what to expect from A Plastic Revolution module (with Dr Cressida Bowyer, Associate Professor in Arts and Sustainability)
    Start date: 23/01/2024
  2. Society's relationship with plastic (with Stephanie Northen, Laura Nieminen, & Samuel Winton)
    Start date: 23/01/2024
  3. Environmental health impacts of plastic pollution (with Professor Fay Couceiro)
    Start date: 29/01/2024
  4. Human health impacts of plastic pollution (with Professor Fay Couceiro)
    Start date: 05/02/2024

  1. Creative solutions to global challenges: art-based approaches for research and sensitisation (with Dr Cressida Bowyer, Associate Professor in Arts and Sustainability & Dr Matt Smith)
    Start date: 12/02/2024
  2. Creative responses to plastic pollution (with Dr Tom Sykes & Dr Louis Netter)
    Start date: 19/02/2024
  3. Plastic pollution in the literary imagination (with Dr Victoria Leslie & Dr Mark Frost)
    Start date: 26/02/2024
  4. Consolidation Week :04/03/2024

  1. The Global Plastics Policy Centre (with Antaya March & Tegan Evans)
    Start date: 11/03/2024
  2. Roleplaying stakeholder workshop (with Dr Erika Hughes)
    Start date: 11/03/2024
  3. The Global Plastics Treaty to End Plastic Pollution: Introduction and panel discussion (with Professor Steve Fletcher, Antaya March and further panelists TBC)
    Start date: 18/03/2024
  4. Easter Break: 25/03/2024
  5. Exploring system solutions: Reuse (with Stephanie Northen) Start date: 15/04/2024

Assessment hand-in deadline: 03/05/2024 (TBC)
Mini exhibition day and module reflection (with Dr Cressida Bowyer, Associate Professor in Arts and Sustainability & Revolution Plastics Institute researchers) Start date: 27/05/2024 (TBC)


Pass/fail - no grading

A choice of three short coursework artefacts will be selected (one per topic block) from a pool of several options to form one portfolio piece at the end of the course. Options will include a range of written and arts-based artefacts.

Indicative coursework artefact options to include:

  1. Log a reflective diary or blog style piece on your plastic uses, attitudes or behaviours
  2. Design an artefact to raise awareness of the plastics problem (i.e. infographic, video, mural, song, performance)
  3. Participate in a beach clean or other citizen engagement activity and provide a reflective report (i.e. photo diary, brand audit, analysis)
  4. Provide a simplified policy analysis on a piece of plastic legislation (I.e. briefing sheet, newsletter format)