Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
GG10210 or DA10210, GG10310, GG10110 or DA10110
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours. 10 x 2 hr lecture


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Unseen examination - Answer 2 questions  100%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   100%

Learning Outcomes

This module allows students to acquire a critical understanding of the social, economic and environmental processes, which have given rise to the discourses and practices associated with sustainable development. Students will be able to specify clearly the goals and policy aims of sustainable development and exhibit an awareness of the limitations of sustainability as a societal model. In addition students will gain an awareness of the geographical factors which influence the emergence of different sustainable development strategies within different national contexts. On completion of the module, students should be able to:

a) Describe and evaluate the principles of sustainable development.

b) Specify clearly the kinds of national and international factors which have given rise to the emergence of sustainable development as a political objective.

c) Exemplify the different forms of sustainable society, which have emerged within the developed, developing and post-socialist worlds.

d) Discuss and evaluate using specific examples, the limitations of sustainability as both an international policy discourse and a set of social and economic practices.

e) Show in their written examination evidence of the development of transferable skills through the depth of their reading and use of other sources, their interpretation, evaluation and critical synthesis of a range of material and the marshalling of an argument in written form.


This module considers the ways in which the discourses and practices associated with sustainable development are emerging as key political considerations at a national and international level. Of particular concern within this module are the geographical contexts and scales at which sustainable development is being implemented and contested. Ultimately the module seeks to introduce students to the main social, economic and environmental concepts associated with sustainability and to enable students to question and critically analyze the assumptions upon which it is based.


This module explores the emergence of sustainable development as a national and international policy goal, analyses the different ways in which sustainability has been implemented and contested within different geographical contexts and at different geographical scales, and develops a critical perspective on many of the social, economic and environmental assumptions upon which notions of sustainable development are based:

a. Introducing the 'sustainable society'
Lecture 1. The roots of the sustainable society.
Lecture 2. The crisis of Fordism and the rise of sustainable development.
Lecture 3. From Stockholm to Rio - the politics of sustainability.

b. Exploring the 'sustainable society'
Lecture 4. The Western model of the sustainable society.
Lecture 5. Sustainable development and the Post-socialist world.
Lecture 6. The fight against poverty - sustainability in the Third World.
Lecture 7. The rise of the sustainable city.
Lecture 8. Sustainable development in the ecological region.
Lecture 9. The sustainable citizen - environmental rights and responsibilites.
Lecture 10. Conclusions and course review.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Whitehead, M. (2007) Spaces of Sustainability: Geographical Perspectives on the Sustainable Society London, Routledge Primo search
Consult For Futher Information
Adams, W (1992) Green Development: Environment and Sustainability in the Third World London: Routledge Primo search Beck, U (1992) The Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity London: Sage Primo search Dobson, A (1990) Green Political Thought London: Routledge Primo search Dresner, S. The Principles of Sustainability Earthscan Primo search Hajer, M (1997) The Politics of Environmental Discourse Oxford: Clarendon Press Primo search International Commission on International Development Issues (1981) North-South: A programme for survival Pan Books Primo search Johnson, P (1992) The Earth Summit: the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) London: Graham & Trotman Primo search Pepper, D (1984) The Roots of Contemporary Environmentalism London: Croom Helm Primo search World Commission on Environment and Development (1989) Our Common Future Oxford: Oxford University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5