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2016/17 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5483M Critical Perspectives in Environment and Development

15 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Dr Susannah Sallu

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2016/17

Module replaces

SOEE5480M - Environment and Development: Principles of Political Economy

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The purpose of this module is for students to obtain a well-grounded understanding of the key theoretical, conceptual and practical debates and issues within the environment-development field. Theoretically political ecology is used as a starting point to push criticality, from which other approaches are explored. Conceptual focus is given to the issues of biodiversity, land degradation and desertification, with practical examples drawn from a variety of fields including conservation, agriculture, forestry and water management. The module draws significantly on the international research expertise of staff in the Sustainability Research Institute.


The specific objectives are:
1. To familiarise students with key theoretical approaches and concepts used in Environment and Development studies.
2. To introduce students to political ecology as an analytical approach in Environment and Development studies and to critically analyse its relevance to understanding environment-development linkages.
3. To encourage students to think critically about policy and practical developments in the environment-development field.
4. To encourage students to think critically about environmental change and natural resource management
5. For students to develop knowledge of a range of research papers and projects in the environment-development field that support their studies.
6. For students to develop creative and critical verbal and written skills in the environment-development field.

Learning outcomes
At the end of this module students should:
1. Be familiar with theoretical approaches and concepts used in Environment and Development studies including political ecology and be able to critically evaluate them.
2. Be better able to think and express yourself critically and creatively in the environment-development field, both verbally and in writing.
3. Have developed knowledge of and an ability to critically evaluate a range of case study material from the environment-development field.

Skills outcomes
The module places considerable emphasis on:
1. Reading and understanding theoretical concepts.
2. Critically evaluating complex environment-development issues and associated research.
3. Understanding the balance between theory and practice.
4. Written and oral communication.
5. Individual study & group discussion/debate


Part 1 (weeks 14-18)
1. Introduction to theories and concepts in environment-development studies
2. Political ecology – the what, where and why?
3. Scientific myths, laws and generalisations
4. Desertification debates
5. Land degradation and policy developments
7. Social construction of knowledge and nature
8. The idea of biodiversity
9. Contested resources, knowledges and meanings
Part 2 (weeks 18-24)
Critical exploration of key topics e.g.
- Ecosystem services and human wellbeing
- Disasters and hazard recovery
- Food security and agricultural futures
- Natural resource management and participation
- Livelihood dynamics and resilience

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours131.75
Total Contact hours18.25
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Weekly reading 44 hours
Preparation for essay 33 hours
Preparation for research paper 55 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Monitoring of student progress takes place on a weekly basis during seminars. Formally students are assessed part way through and at the end of semester 2. A single optional tutorial will be offered to students after Assignment 1 feedback has been provided to support those who want to discuss feedback and/or need additional support.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentResearch Review Paper60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The resit for this module will take the form of a 3,000 word review essay. The mark for this assignment will be the mark for the whole module, not just for any failed components.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 17/04/2015


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