Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Managing Island Environments

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Environmental Management and Planning

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will introduce students to the field of island studies. The first part of the unit will be lecture- and seminar-based. Definitions of islands in both physical and non-physical terms will be discussed, and different island typologies considered. The geographical location of the world's major islands and island groups will also be reviewed. The unit will then address the physical characteristics of islands, including the mechanisms by which they form and the environmental conditions which characterize them. The particularities of island biodiversity will be discussed, with reference to the important role that islands play in evolution. The study-unit will then analyze development prospects for islands, including through a review of positive and negative influences of insularity on economic growth, together with a discussion of issues of vulnerability. Governance and jurisdiction issues will also be addressed, with reference to examples from across the world. The second part of the unit will be field-based; students may either complete a field course addressing various aspects of island life in the Maltese Islands, or, resources permitting, may opt to join an international field trip (at own expense). The field course will provide a more practical perspective on the sustainability challenges that islands face and on future prospects.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims:

- to make students aware of the particularities of island environments, and of the necessity of managing such spaces with a full understanding of their unique context;
- to outline the characteristics of island environments, and their key assets and weaknesses;
- to show students how global issues may have unique manifestations on islands, producing both challenges and opportunities;
- to discuss the implications of changing global Earth Systems for island environments;
- to give students a better comprehension of the constraints which island environments face and the opportunities which they enjoy.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

a. outline the defining characteristics of islands;
b. explain the theory of island biogeography;
c. identify and describe aspects of vulnerability faced by island economies;
d. describe different governance mechanisms for islands;
e. evaluate the sustainability challenges faced by specific island environments.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

a. appraise the importance of island environments for world biodiversity resources;
b. appraise the positive and negative aspects of tourism for island environments;
c. analyze issues of sustainability within islands with reference to their unique opportunities and constraints;
d. relate the management of Earth Systems within the Maltese context to the country's status as a small island state;
e. discuss the ways in which phenomena of global change may have challenging manifestations at local level, with reference to islands.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Baldacchino, G., 2007. A World of Islands: An Island Studies Reader. Island Studies Press. 1st Edition. ISBN: 978-999-328-610-3.
- Baldacchino, G., 2010. Island Enclaves: Offshoring Strategies, Creative Governance and Subnational Island Jurisdictions. 1st Edition. McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN: 978-077-353-743-9.
- Baldacchino, G. & Milne, D. 2000. Lessons From the Political Economy of Small Islands: The Resourcefulness of Jurisdiction. Palgrave Macmillan. 1st Edition. ISBN: 033-377-817-0.
- Barrett, D., Briguglio, L., Hirano, S. & Strachan, J., 2008. Sustainable Development in Small Island Developing States: Issues and Challenges. Commonwealth Secretariat. 1st Edition ISBN: 978-085-092-879-2.Briguglio, L., Cordina, G. & Farrugia, N., 2008. Small States and the Pillars of Economic Resilience. Formatek Ltd. 1st Edition. ISBN: 978-999-094-924-7.
- Island Studies Journal (2006-present). Available online at:

ADDITIONAL NOTES An Intermediate Level pass at grade C or better is required in at least one of the following subjects: Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Geography or Sociology.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Fieldwork and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Seminar Paper SEM1 Yes 25%
Presentation SEM1 No 25%
Portfolio SEM1 No 50%

LECTURER/S Godfrey Baldacchino
Louis Francis Cassar
Elisabeth Conrad (Co-ord.)

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2018/9, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.