Political Economy of the Environment (L7094ADUD)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

This module introduces you to a political-economy perspective on the key issues of the global environment. It attempts to move beyond the limitations of conventional political and economic analyses in coming to terms with the threats of environmental degradation and climate change. The module taps into a broader type of ethical, natural and social theorisation that defined an earlier tradition of political economy. This is not a module on environmental or resource economics, though these will be examined during the term. Rather, this module tries to understand social production as much more than a series of market relations. It tries to develop a broader socio-cultural understanding of production that `de-naturalises' the way we view and exploit the natural world.

The module also attempts to throw light on the tension between economics and the environment given the framework of an unequal world market. It will examine to what extent the pursuit of greater distributional justice in the global political economy is amenable to facing the challenges of environmental degradation and climate change. We will look at the opportunities and risks associated with the expansion of the global market, as well as the practicability of notions of sustainable development. Other topics covered in the module include capitalism and the environment; sustainable consumption; cultural political economy; environmental economics; ecological economics; private environmental governance; climate change denial; and case studies on China and India.


100%: Seminar

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 36 hours of contact time and about 264 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: