Environment and Development in World Politics (L2073A)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

The question of whether current forms of economic and political organisation in international society are capable of responding to the challenge of sustainable development is more pertinent than ever before. Questions are being asked about how development can be redefined to accommodate ecological challenges or whether we need to fundamentally rethink notions of growth and progress. This module takes a critical look at the actors and issues implicated in the emerging global debate on sustainable development. It engages with competing theoretical perspectives about the drivers of environmental change and how best to explain the nature of international cooperation on the environment and its limits, but also aims to provide you with a detailed understanding of the defining issues and tensions that constitute the struggle to define future notions of development.

The module will address empirical case studies such as climate change, biodiversity and biotechnology and deforestation as well as the relationship between trade and the environment, finance and the environment and production and the environment in a context of globalisation. You will gain an understanding of the key actors in these debates from governments and international institutions to civil society organisations and corporations and the ways their power and influence can best be understood.

The module begins with an overview of the shifting nature of the relationship between environment and development in world politics before looking at the key actors in global debates about sustainable development. From there it sets out a range of theoretical tools for understanding the global politics of these issues before focussing in on a range of issue areas, those listed above. It concludes with reflection on prospects for change and the viability of alternative proposals for better addressing the environment and development in world politics.


100%: Seminar


30%: Coursework (Essay, Group presentation)
70%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 63 hours of contact time and about 237 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: