Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG3440 Environment, Conflict and Policy

20 creditsClass Size: 75

Module manager: Prof Jon Lovett

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The module covers key principles underlying environmental policy and conflicts including the Principles of Justice, Precautionary Principle, Polluter Pays, Entitlements, Property Rights, Transaction Costs, Animal Rights and Common Heritage. The principles are placed into a practical context in student-led seminars debating different stakeholder perspectives on topical issues. A key feature of the seminars and the assessment is an ability to represent different sides of an argument. The nature of international negotiations is explored during a role-play with the class divided into different country groups that need to reach an agreement. The role-play teaches basic negotiation skills and the importance of compromise.


The module objectives are to:

- Describe key principles underlying environmental conflicts and policy, such as the use of entitlements, principles of justice, precautionary principle, the nature of property rights and the implications of transaction costs.
- Describe the fundamental science underlying application of the key principles.
- Demonstrate application of the key principles and fundamental science in national and international environmental conflicts through examination of classic and current examples.
- Enable students to look at both sides of environmental disputes during case-study seminars.
- Show how the politics of policy can sometimes override science.
- Transfer negotiation skills in the international negotiation role-play.

Learning outcomes
Students will gain a knowledge and understanding of:

Classic examples of conflict associated with the environment as illustrated by both early legal cases and decisions on national and international environmental conflicts. These classic examples underpin contemporary policy on environmental conflicts.

An understanding of the basic underlying principles used to relate science to policy in cases of environmental conflicts. These principles will include (as examples): fundamental principles of justice, precautionary principle, common heritage, differentiated responsibilities, entitlements and property rights.

The mechanisms and processes of how to apply the basic principles to topical examples of environmental conflict in open discussion by taking contemporary environmental conflicts and analysing them from a range of stakeholder perspectives.

An understanding of negotiation skills with practical application of those skills in debates on environmental conflict.

Skills outcomes
- Learning how science is positioned in policy and how scientific information is used when there is conflict
- Developing the ability to understand several sides of environmental disputes
- Learning basic negotiating skills


The module consists of three components: lectures, seminars and a role-play. The lectures will cover basic principles and their application to classic examples. The student led seminars will examine case studies from the perspective of different stakeholder groups, taking the form of a debate between opposing viewpoints. Each seminar will be followed by a lecture and discussion summarising the key points. The role-play will involve negotiating an international agreement between different country groupings.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours160.00
Total Contact hours40.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

1. Core reading for part 1 lectures will consist of reading academic papers and classic legal cases associated with each lecture (3 hours/ lecture = 84).
2. Seminar preparation for part 2 will consist of reading background material consisting of news reports, advocacy websites, legal cases and other material relevant to the topic on a case-by-case basis (4 hours/ seminar = 24).
3. Preparation for the role-play will consist of reading website and other background material on the specific international negotiation to be tackled; and creating a negotiating position for the country represented by each student’s group (8 hours total).
4. 500 word press release (4 hours)
5. 2500 word essay (8 hours)
6. Exam revision (32 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored both formally and informally by the following assessments and processes:

1. A short 500 word press release written early in the module in order to get prompt feedback on the level of understanding and to focus student attention on the topics (10%).
2. A 2500 word policy briefing essay in the style of a Ministerial policy submission based on the negotiation role play (50%).

1. Performance during the seminars and role play will enable teaching staff to interact individually with students who are not engaging or do not appear to understand the material.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2500 words Briefing50.00
AssignmentPress release - 500 words10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 21/03/2016


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019