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Unit information: Environmental Politics in 2020/21

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Unit name Environmental Politics
Unit code POLIM2041
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Parrott
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 highlights a range of key environmental concepts, issues and controversies in both the North and South, and encourages critical awareness of the causes and consequences of environmental change. The history of environmentalism will be traced, the 'true' state of the environmental crisis considered, and particular emphasis placed upon the importance of how we understand the environment as a determinant of the actions and agendas undertaken to solve environmental ills. The relationship between capitalism, accumulation and the environment will be assessed together with the role of the state in preventing and exacerbating environmental decline. Concepts such as sustainable development, 'weak' and 'strong' sustainability; environmental economics; zero-growth; and the 'steady-state', will all be considered as possible solutions to perceived environmental problems. Likewise, the implications of the 'mainstreaming' of environmental politics will also be discussed.


  • To provide a critical outline of the rise of environmentalism, the significance of environmental problems and the linkages between environmental issues and political, social and economic forces.
  • Provide students with the theoretical frameworks that underpin environmental actions and agendas
  • Create opportunities to develop key skills such as analysis, evaluation, presentation, team skills and project work
  • To encourage an interest in and understanding of environmental politics

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Awareness of the key environmental problems facing the world at the start of the 21st century
  2. Understanding of the diverse conceptualisations of the environment and the consequences for actions and agendas undertaken
  3. Ability to identify, critique and defend different stakeholder positions with regard to environmental problems
  4. Understanding of the difficulty in reconciling environment and development/ economic growth

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

One class presentation (0%), one assessed 4000 word essay (100%). The class presentation will allow students to engage with an aspect of the course that is of particular interest to them. The aim for the presenter is to stimulate debate, encourage class participation and stress particular themes.

The essay will facilitate additional research, enabling students to indulge their curiosity to a far greater extent. Furthermore, the essay will afford students the opportunity to display the depth and breadth of their comprehension of the major themes of the course.

Reading and References

  1. Conca, K., Alberty, M. & Dabelko, D.B (eds), Green planet Blues: Environmental Politics from Stockholm to Kyoto, (Boulder CO: Westview Press, 1998)
  2. Dryzek, J.S. & Schlosberg, D. (eds), Debating the Earth: The Environmental Politics Reader (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2003)
  3. Lomborg, B., The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World (Cambridge University Press, 2001)
  4. Porter, G., Welsh Brown, J. & Chasek, P.S., Global Environmental Politics, (Boulder CO: Westview Press, 2000)