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Unit information: Critical Political Ecologies of Extraction and Conservation in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Critical Political Ecologies of Extraction and Conservation
Unit code GEOG30029
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Behzadi
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit critically explores these tensions of extractivism, conservation, and the relations between them by drawing on multiple strands of critical political ecology, an interdisciplinary field that explores how social and environmental systems interact. Theoretically, the unit builds on feminist, anti-racist, Indigenous, postcolonial and decolonial political ecologies to understand the violent histories and underlying principles behind global and national extractivist and conservationist agendas. Empirically, the unit will explore local, grounded everyday, embodied and differentiated experiences in extractive and conservation zones, drawing on case studies on resource extraction and conservation around the world, including Latin America and Central Asia. The unit is organised in four sections: a first introductory and conceptual section on the broader field of critical political ecology, a second section on resource extraction, a third section on conservation, and finally a conclusion on ecological futures. The core material is covered in lectures and seminars and further developed via independent reading, essay preparation, and an oral group presentation.

Unit aims:

  • To develop a critical understanding on the political ecologies of resource extraction and conservation in the contemporary world
  • To develop a multi-scalar perspective on extraction and conservation focusing on the link between global processes and grounded local impacts.
  • To explore the historical and contemporary links between resource extraction, conservation, and colonialism.
  • To apply this knowledge to practical examples through the exploration of case studies.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this unit students should be able to:

  1. Use key concepts of critical political ecology to understand extraction and conservation processes, their impacts and the resistances to them.
  2. Reflect on these processes through practical cases studies in the contemporary world.
  3. Identify and explain the past and present factors that have shaped the extractivist and conservationist models, including those related to colonialism.
  4. Individually design, undertake and write up research addressing questions of resource extraction and conservation from a critical political ecology perspective.
  5. Design, undertake and orally present group work research addressing questions of resource extraction and conservation from a critical political ecology perspective.

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Library searches for published and unpublished material
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Analytical skills
  • Planning

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through a blended combination of online and, if possible, in-person teaching, including

  • online resources
  • synchronous group workshops, seminars, tutorials and/or office hours
  • asynchronous individual activities and guided reading for students to work through at their own pace

Assessment Details

15 minute group oral presentation (30%)

3000-word essay (70%)


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. GEOG30029).