Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 16 x 1 hour
Seminars / Tutorials 4 x 2 hour


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay (sustainability and security)  45%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay (social movements)  45%
Semester Assessment 1 x seminar presentation  10%
Supplementary Assessment Students failing the module will repeat only the failed component(s); those re-sitting failed coursework are required to select a different essay/assignment title and must not submit re-written versions of the original essay/assignment.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to.
1. Explain the ways in which environmental issues have been incorporated into global governance.
2. Evaluate the evolution of sustainable development discourse over the past four decades.
3. Critically assess the political impacts of various mechanisms and institutions for governing sustainability.
4. Analyze the conflicts and forms of cooperation produced by issues of environmental insecurity.
5. Analyze the contributions of specific ecological social movements to broader issues of environmental politics.
6. Discuss the degree to which environmental issues can be accommodated within a state-centric global system.
7. Link specific environmental issues to broader theoretical debates within IR and political theory.
8. Reflect on the conceptual coherence of `environmental politics? as a distinct field, and assess the consequences of such disciplinary partitioning.

Brief description

The module is divided into three sections.

The first section, Sustainability, interrogates the dominant discursive and institutional framework within which environmental concerns have been integrated into national and global forms of governance. Through analysis of world summits, national strategies, green political parties, multilateral regimes, environmental impact assessments, social responsibility charters, sustainable citizen initiatives, and public-private partnerships the capacity of modern society to govern environmental issues will be assessed.

The second section, Security, focuses on the concept of environmental security. By positing a correlation between resource degradation and conflict, researchers in the field of environmental security have highlighted the risk of water wars, oil conflicts, and the increased spread of diseases, poverty and disasters. This part of the module critically interrogates the relationship between environmental scarcity, violent conflict, and (in)security. Political responses to these threats will also be addressed, including international negotiations on climate and atmospheric security, food security, and shared water resources.

The third section, Social Movements, seeks to move beyond this largely state-centric framework to consider the role of local or transnational social movements within global environmental politics. Through specific case studies the ways in which environmental or ecological discourses are articulated within forms of mobilization and struggle will be examined. The practical and philosophical contributions of social movements to issues of sustainability and security will be explored, and the degree to which their concerns can be accommodated or articulated within a state-centric international system will be discussed.


Lecture 1: Introduction
Section 1: Sustainability
Lecture 2: The Brundtland Report and Sustainable Development
Lecture 3: World Summits in Stockholm, Rio and Johannesburg
Lecture 4: Green parties, national strategies and environmental monitoring
Lecture 5: Civic participation and sustainable citizenship programmes
Lecture 6: Capitalism and Sustainability: Carbon Trading Schemes
Section 2: Security
Lecture 7: Environmental Security: the Toronto and Copenhagen Schools
Lecture 8: Water wars and negotiations
Lecture 9: Climate change and Kyoto/Copenhagen
Lecture 10: Food and Fuel Security
Lecture 11: Violent environments: Resource wars or resource curses?
Section 3: Social Movements
Lecture 12: Conservation: The Peace Park Movement
Lecture 13: Conflict: The Ogoni and the Niger Delta
Lecture 14: Pollution: Environmental Justice Movements in the USA and South Africa
Lecture 15: Sustainability: Climate camps in the UK
Lecture 16: Conclusion

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Some statistical data on processes of environmental change will be part of the course reading material.
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to assert themselves to advantage. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication and how to exploit these. They will know how to use the many sources of information available and how to use the most appropriate form of communication to the best advantage. They will learn to be clear and direct in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Seminars will be run in groups where oral discussion and presentations will form the main medium of teaching and the emphasis throughout the module will be on student participation and communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context of assistance from both the convenor and the fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay and presentation topics. The need to conduct a seminar presentation and to meet an essay deadline will focus students¿ attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science and OCLC). Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be available on the Blackboard VLE.
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students' verbal and presentation and team-working skills. Learning about the process of planning an essay and a presentation, framing the parameters of the projects, honing and developing the projects and seeing through to completion will contribute towards students' portfolio of transferable skills.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one of the central goals of the module; the submission of the essays will require that the student develops independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The second essay will include an element of (directed) research design. The need to research and prepare seminar presentations will also enable the student to develop independent project skills. The ability of students to solve problems will be developed and assessed by asking them to: adopt differing points of view; organize data and estimate an answer to the problem; consider extreme cases; reason logically; construct theoretical models; consider similar cases; look for patterns; divide issues into smaller problems.
Research skills The submission of the essays will reflect the independent research skills of the student. The second essay will include an element of (directed) research design. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills. Research preparation for a seminar presentation will also enable the student to develop independent project skills.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module. These subject specific skills include: * Collect and understand a wide range of data relating to the module * Ability to evaluate competing perspectives * Demonstrate subject specific research techniques * Apply a range of methodologies to complex political problems * Ability to synthesize knowledge from more than one academic discipline
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small group role-playing activities where students will be obliged to prepare, present and discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics. Such class room debates and discussions are a vital component of the module learning experience


This module is at CQFW Level 6