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Unit information: Consumption, Environment and Sustainable Development in 2021/22

Unit name Consumption, Environment and Sustainable Development
Unit code SOCIM0034
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Jessica Paddock
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit turns the sociological imagination to issues of consumption, environmental degradation, and rising inequalities experienced by those living on an everyday basis with environmental and social change in the Global North and South. Through a combination of lectures, discussion, and peer-led group work the unit will explore, understand and critically appraise how sociology as a discipline has engaged theoretically with debates about rising consumption and issues of (un)sustainability. We then turn to consider the co-evolution of feminist scholarly perspectives with those that theorise andadvance understanding and awareness of women’s relationship with the environment.

While ecofeminist perspectives are extraordinarily divided and contested, they have much to contribute to the analysis of global development processes that seek to ameliorate conditions of environmental degradation and address problems of inequality. Taking a global perspective, we then explore what the aims of feminism and sustainable development have in common. Empirical attention is paid to interconnected global environmental challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change, resource over- exploitation and the experience of food insecurity for differentiated communities. In this way, the course brings a sociological perspective to an interdisciplinary field of inquiry.


· To explore the relationship between consumption, inequality, environment and sustainable development.

· To critically evaluate how insecurities in access to natural resources are gendered, raced and classed at a global level.

· To apply critical perspectives across a range of empirical contexts, from the Global North to the Global South.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to demonstrate via the unit assessment:

1. Understanding of a wide range of social-theoretical perspectives concerned with consumption, environment and sustainable development.

2. Evaluation of those socio-theoretical perspectives in relation to debates around contemporary environmental challenges (e.g. food insecurity, biodiversity loss, climate change).

3. Consideration of the ways in which the experience of living with environmental change is globally differentiated.

4. Reflection upon the potential for sociological thinking to offer fresh insights for policy geared towards sustainable development across global, national, and local scales.

Teaching Information

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Information

Formative assessment: 1500 word essay

Summative assessment: 4000 word essay (100%)

All essay questions (formative and summative) will be designed to allow evaluation of student performance in relation to Intended Learning Outcomes 1-4 as detailed below.

The 1500 word formative essay will allow for provision of feedback from the unit owner on the extent to which students have demonstrated an ability to meet the aims and intended learning outcomes of the unit, with suggestions for further improvement. The summative essay will allow for assessment of students' ability to meet the Intended Learning Outcomes 1-4, detailed below, by requiring students to develop an in-depth essay argument over a length of 4000 words that draws upon relevant readings, materials and debates covered in the unit.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SOCIM0034).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.