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Unit information: Environmental Politics in 2021/22

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

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.


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. POLIM2041).

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.