Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 16 x 1 hour
Seminars / Tutorials 8 x 1 hour


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   exam  45%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay  45%
Semester Assessment Seminar participation (including oral presentation)  10%
Supplementary Assessment 2 Hours   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. Discuss international politics through the perspective of environment
2. Critically evaluate principal debates about conceptualising the role of environment in social/political life
3. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the competing approaches to environment as a political issue
4. Evaluate ethical aspects of instruments the international society uses to address environmental challenges
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, especially when conceptualizing international relations and concomitant concepts (such as national security)
7. Critically re-evaluate international politics dominated by the idea of progress
8. Develop conceptual apparatus to discuss and analyze international politics from the perspective of environment, including global environmental ethics and justice.

Brief description

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. 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 IR theory, international political theory, ethics, history and environmental studies the module also enables students to learn to synthesize theoretical and historical (empirical) approaches to the study of international politics.


The module is divided into three sections.

The first section, People, primarily develops the conceptual apparatus needed to engage the environment within the study of politics. It distinguishes competing conceptualizations of the social world, most notably the anthropocentric and the geocentric ones, and the notion of `the world of our making¿¿ as a key characteristic of politics.
The second section, Progress, primarily focuses on how the environment, often represented through the idea of virgin nature and its exploitation, has historically shaped ideas about and practices of international politics and how this politics has been conditioned on the idea of progress. Non-Western alternatives, which are not dominated by the idea of progress, will be addressed too. The section proceeds to identify the conceptual challenges/conflicts the notion of progress has left for the present, especially when it comes to conceptualizing human security and international justice.
The third section, Environment, synthesizes the approaches of the two previous parts by examining how serious, informed engagement with the environment challenges dominant conceptualizations of politics, hinging on ideas of progress and an anthropocentric view of justice. It investigates if and how ideas of environmental conservation, depletion reversal, sustainability and security necessitate a re-conceptualization of international politics and international ethics themselves.

Transferable skills

Students will have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of transferable skills which will help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas. Throughout the module, students should practice and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills, as well as self management skills. In lectures students will develop listening and note taking skills, as well as analytical skills. In seminars students will enhance their analytical skills and will practice listening, explaining and debating skills, as well as team work and problem solving. Essay writing will encourage students to practice their independent research, writing and IT skills.

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 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 an essay will require that the student develops independent research skills as well as problem solving skills. 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. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student¿s ability to work alone can be undertaken.
Research skills The 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. A final examination will ensure that an assessment of the student¿s ability to work alone can be undertaken.
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

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