PHYS 7420: Energy Usage, The Environment and Sustainability

PHYS 7420: Energy Usage, The Environment and Sustainability

About the Course

This course allows students to comprehend the significance of energy sources, their capacity, security, costs and their effects on the environment.  The energy production and economic distinction between non-renewable (e.g. coal, gas, oil and nuclear fuel) and renewable sources (e.g. wood, biomass, hydro, solar, wind, geothermal and ocean) upon amongst different countries will be explored.  In addition, an examination on the role of nuclear energy and its concerns in radiation, spent fuel waste disposal and safety issue are addressed.

Course Syllabus

The course will mainly cover the below topics:

1. The cost of energy, the energy challenge and sustainability

2. The Safety of energy sources, pollution and environment

3. Social awareness and responses (e.g. Politics, Psychology, Education, etc.)

Recommended Background

NO prior knowledge in physics is required.


Suggested Readings

1. Hodgson, P.E., 2010, “Energy, the Environment and Climate Change”,  Imperial College Press.

2. O’Keefe, P., O’Brien, G., and Pearsall, N., 2010, “The Future of Energy Use”, Earthscan: Publishing for a Sustainable Future.

3. Mann, M.E. & Kump, L., 2009, “Dire Prediction: Understanding Global Warming”, New York, NY, DK Publishing, Inc.

4. Others readings to be suggested by course instructors.


Course Format

One evening lecture per week over the course of 12/13 weeks. Each lecture lasts for approximately 3 hours.



1. Continuous Assessment (E.g. Assignment, Presentation, Mid-term, etc.).

2. A two-hour final examination.

When offered

Second semester.


For BU RPg students, fill in the usual hardcopy form (Application for Course Add/Drop/Withdrawal).

For non-BU RPg students, fill in the usual hardcopy form (Application for Cross-institutional Course/Subject Enrolment for Research Postgraduate Students).


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