SWITCH On Skills


Free  |  Level 4 (10 credits)  |  Swansea University  |  Online  |  12 Weeks

Three hundred years of industrial development have led to abrupt and often irreversible environmental change, resulting in significant climatic and non-climatic challenges in the 21st Century that adversely impact human development. Rapid population growth, urbanisation, intensive land use and change, uncapped commodity extraction and pollution are degrading ecosystems, while climate change is increasing the frequency, intensity and magnitude of natural disasters, leading to human and wildlife fatalities and increasing property and economic losses.

Conventional engineering solutions can address these issues to some extent. However, there is a growing consensus for the need to work with ecosystems to enhance the livability in cities, providing resilient communities and allowing adaptation to climate change while protecting and enhancing ecosystems and biodiversity.

Nature-based solutions (NBS) are inspired and supported by nature and use or mimic natural processes. They can be applied strategically and equitably to help societies address various global environmental challenges. NBS can bring multiple economic, societal and environmental benefits, such as reducing infrastructure costs, job creation, green growth, and enhancing health, wellbeing and recreational opportunities.

Who Should Attend

This course is aimed at professional learners with a role in sustainability or conservation management. Learners may also have an interest in, or responsibility for meeting decarbonisation and Net Zero Carbon targets. A background in civil or materials engineering, geography or biology would be beneficial, but optional.

Course Aims

The “Introduction to Nature-Based Solutions” course aims to equip professional learners with the knowledge and skills to understand, develop, and implement nature-based solutions (NBS) to address contemporary environmental challenges. Amidst the backdrop of rapid industrialisation and its ensuing ecological impacts, the course emphasises a paradigm shift from conventional engineering approaches to strategies that work in harmony with natural ecosystems. Through a comprehensive curriculum, participants will explore the theoretical underpinnings of NBS, examine practical applications, and study case studies. By the course’s end, learners will be adept at creating innovative NBS to enhance urban livability, promote ecosystem resilience, and contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, all while developing critical scientific writing and evaluation skills.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, the learner will be able to:

  • • Describe and explain what Nature Based Solutions are, the need for them and provide examples of NBS
  • • Critically evaluate Nature Based Solutions and understand their strengths and limitations
  • • Create innovative NBS and apply these to address climatic and environmental issues at different societal levels (local, national, international)
  • • Synthesise scientific information into coherent reports

Course Programme

  • • Nature-based Solutions to societal challenges
  • • Overview of nature and biodiversity loss
  • • Applying the nature-based solutions concept
  • • Societal challenges
  • • Climate change impacts on habitats, plants and animals
  • • Environmental degradation
  • • Nature-based solutions for climate mitigation
  • • Ecosystem based adaptation to climate change
  • • Ecosystem based approach to freshwater habitats
  • • Ecosystem based approach to coastal and marine habitats
  • • Introduction to restoring degraded ecosystems
  • • Restoring degraded terrestrial ecosystems
  • • Impacts of climate change in urban areas
  • • Integrating the grey, green and blue cities
  • • Urban water bodies and drainage systems
  • • Transport linear infrastructure
  • • Effects of urban green space on wellbeing
  • • Ecosystem based disaster reduction for droughts
  • • Ecosystem based disaster reduction for floods

Course Delivery

The course is conveniently delivered through Swansea University’s Learning Management System, Canvas, providing a seamless online learning experience. The course spans 12 weeks, requiring participants to dedicate approximately 3 hours per week to complete it. This structure allows for a manageable yet comprehensive exploration of nature-based solutions.

Throughout the course, participants will engage in three progressive assessment quizzes, complemented by a comprehensive final written assessment that culminates their learning journey. All assessments are conveniently submitted through the secure and user-friendly platform, Canvas.

To ensure a supportive and enriching learning environment, expert guidance and assistance are readily available from our project lecturers and dedicated learning technologists. These experienced professionals can be easily reached through Canvas or via email.


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