Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
People, Progress, Environment: Environmental Ethics and Politics
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Practical 6 x 1 hour
Other 2 x 1 film
Lecture 9 x 1 hour
Seminars / Tutorials 7 x 1 hour


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 2,750 word essay  45%
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,000 word Teamwork Participation Report  10%
Semester Assessment 1 x 7,500 word Project Report (team of 4 students)  45%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,750 word essay  45%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1000 word report if Teamwork Participation Report failed  10%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 2,750 word report (individual) if Team Project failed  45%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Discuss international politics through the perspective of environmental challenges
2. Discuss ethical aspects of environmental challenges
3. Critically evaluate principal debates about conceptualising the role of environment in social/political life
4. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the competing approaches to environment as an ethical and political issue
5. Critically evaluate the role of progress in the history of international politics up to the present and identify environmental risks of it
6. Discuss links between progress, politics and environment
7. Develop conceptual apparatus to discuss and analyse international politics from the perspective of environment, including global environmental ethics and justice.

Brief description

This module explores the issues of environmental ethics and politics through three foci. Firstly, it is the people or anthropocentric political thinking. We will examine what this kind of thinking allows and prevents politically. Secondly, it is the idea of progress, which has permeated modern political imagination, but which is being challenged by environmental thinking. Thirdly, it is the idea of environment itself, in its manifold conceptualisations and understandings. These three foci will allow us to appreciate and analyse the most pressing environmental issues of our time and examine especially their political and international implications. While there are set readings for the seminars, students are strongly encouraged to also develop their own interests in the topic area.

The module is divided into two parts.

The first part primarily develops the conceptual apparatus needed to engage the environment within the study of politics and international ethics. It consists of seven topics and combines lectures, which give students the wider context of each topic, independent study and seminars. Active participation in seminars will be encouraged. Progress in this part is assessed in the form of an essay.

The second part is primarily practical and is introduced by one lecture. Students will be working on their projects in teams and each team will be required to present their work-in-progress at the team project colloquium. Other students will be asked to produce short feedback on each presentation; this feedback will be incorporated into the overall presentation feedback (formative) by the tutor. Progress in this part is assessed in the form of a report (collective work) and a reflective report (individual work)


Lecture 1, 2; Seminar 1

Lecture 3; Seminar 2

Lecture 4; Seminar 3

Lecture 5; Seminar 4

Lecture 6; Seminar 5

Lecture 7; Seminar 6

Lecture 8; Seminar 7

Lecture 9
Team project colloquium 1 – 6


The module presents students with an opportunity to understand and critically examine the role of the environment in present (and to lesser extent past) conceptualizations, practices and judgments of international politics and ethics. The module also allows students to appreciate the environment as a concept which may allow us to transcend state boundaries when theorizing global politics, while identifying the challenges this option represents. Sitting at the crossroads of international politics, international political theory, ethics and environmental studies the module also enables students to learn to synthesize theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of international politics.

The module aims to enhance students' knowledge base in the areas of environmental politics and ethics, especially from the perspective of international politics. The first, theoretical, part develops students’ reading, analytical, interpretative and expressive skills. The second, practical, part develops the ability to apply theories and concepts to practical (world politics) issues. A crucial component of this part is enhancement of team-work skills, such as organisation, discussion, negotiation and compromise, as well as oral presentation skills. As a result, while the knowledge objectives of the course are limited to the studies subject matter, mastering the skill objectives will make students prepared much more broadly.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Some statistical data on environmental depletion 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 and teamwork colloquia 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. Fellow students will be encouraged to question the paper-givers to critique their approach or to suggest areas for the development of the chosen topic.
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 team project 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 an essay will require that the student develops independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. The need to research and prepare project presentations will also enable the student to develop project and presentation 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 TThe submission of an essay will reflect the independent research skills of the student. 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. The teamwork project will necessitate both individual research skills as well as their communication and further development within a team.
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 - Ability to work as a member of a team
Team work The teamwork project will require students to present and discuss their ideas in a group and produce jointly written document as part of their assessment. This is a vital component of the module learning experience

Reading List

Should Be Purchased
The module draws on a wide range of literature. Required readings are to be found in a study pack, which students are strongly advised to buy. Additional study materials will be available through AU Information Services. Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6