Module Identifier GG27910  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Mark J Whitehead  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite GG10210, DA10210, GG10310, GG10110 and DA10110  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours. 10 x 2 hr lecture  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours Unseen examination - Answer 2 questions100%
Supplementary Exam2 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 Lists

** Recommended Text
Adams, W (1992) Green Development: Environment and Sustainability in the Third World London: Routledge 0415080509
Beck, U (1992) The Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity London: Sage 0803983468
Dobson, A (1990) Green Political Thought London: Routledge 0044452454
Dresner, S. The Principles of Sustainability Earthscan 0185383411
Hajer, M (1997) The Politics of Environmental Discourse Oxford: Clarendon Press 0198279698
International Commission on International Development Issues (1981) North-South: A programme for survival Pan Books 0330261401
Johnson, P (1992) The Earth Summit: the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) London: Graham & Trotman 1853337846
Pepper, D (1984) The Roots of Contemporary Environmentalism London: Croom Helm 0414057442
World Commission on Environment and Development (1989) Our Common Future Oxford: Oxford University Press 019282080X


This module is at CQFW Level 5