Physics and the Grand Challenges of Today

This unit provides you with the knowledge and conceptual understanding of topical aspects of physics and the processes by which scientific knowledge is developed. It evaluates the important scientific and technological issues and challenges facing the modern world.

Many of the global issues being addressed by society today have complex scientific and technical backgrounds. Informed discussion and debate around these issues requires an appreciation of the underlying science. This non-mathematical unit introduces you to the science behind some of these issues. It will help you to better understand topics ranging from quantum technology, nuclear power, climate change and natural disasters, to the origin and contents of the Universe.

If you are interested in the science of the world and Universe around you and some of the issues society faces, but haven't had the opportunity or scientific background to study it, this is the unit for you. Very little scientific knowledge will be assumed.

Innovation is crucial in developing less resource intensive ways of meeting the needs of society (such as food, transport and energy). Solutions will include new products, new services, changing behaviours and even re-shaping entire systems. But how is this possible when so many societal actors are involved? What roles can consumers, businesses, governments and new technologies play in this transformation? Answering these fundamental questions requires perspectives which span traditional academic disciplines, including sociology, economics, management and innovation studies. This unit does just that, by bringing together world-class sustainability expertise to introduce cutting edge ideas and debates in this area.

Throughout the unit these perspectives will be explored through discussion of sustainability initiatives in areas of food, transport and energy provision in the UK and beyond.

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