Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2017/18 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5094M Introduction to Ecological Economics

15 creditsClass Size: 56

Module manager: Dr Daniel O'Neill

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2017/18

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

Since the 1970s, researchers from various economic, social, and natural science domains have sought to formulate new approaches to questions of economic development in response to environmental challenges, increasingly framed as the problems of sustainable development. This new perspective has become known as “ecological economics”.Ecological economics differs from conventional economics by assuming that the economic system is embedded in a social system, which is in turn embedded in a finite global ecosystem. Ecological economics seeks to advance an understanding of the relationships among these three systems for the mutual well-being of people and nature. This module provides an introduction to the main concepts and ideas of ecological economics. These include the three goals of efficient allocation, fair distribution, and sustainable scale, as well as human well-being, alternatives to economic growth, and heterodox approaches. Previous training in economics is not required to take this module.


The main objective of the module is to give students a good understanding of the basic concepts and terminology of ecological economics, and to inspire students to think differently about the relationship between economic activity and the environment. It provides a sound foundation in ecological economics that students can apply in their research or use as a base for more advanced study. The module is designed around principles of active learning; a high level of student preparation and engagement is expected.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will:
• Have a grounding in basic economic concepts as they relate to the environment
• Understand the fundamental vision of ecological economics
• Appreciate the relationship between economic activity and environmental impacts
• Have become critical consumers of current economic theories and pathways
• Be able to propose approaches to achieve sustainable scale, fair distribution, and efficient allocation
• Have explored alternative pathways such as degrowth and steady-state economics
• Apply a whole systems approach to problem solving
• Have improved written and verbal presentation skills

Skills outcomes
The module places considerable emphasis on analysing, synthesising, and summarising information critically. Skills developed include literature review techniques, critical thinking, group work, written composition, and oral presentation.


1. What is ecological economics?
2. Key concepts in economics
3. The market and efficient allocation
4. Distribution and inequality
5. Social metabolism and sustainable scale
6. Human well-being
7. Resource use and economic growth
8. Degrowth and steady-state economics
9. Money and finance
10. Heterodox economic theory

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours120.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

The module is organised into 10 one-hour lectures, and 10 two-hour seminars. The lectures provide an introduction from the instructor on that week’s topic, which is explored in greater depth during the seminar through a discussion of readings and student presentations.

Students are required to read 3–4 assigned texts in preparation for each seminar and be prepared to discuss a set of questions about these texts in the seminar (4 hours private study per week; total of 40 hours of private study). Students are asked to write a short op-ed piece relating one of the module’s topics to current events (total of 15 hours of private study). Students are also required to sign up for a 10-minute verbal presentation on one of the module’s topics, to be presented during one of the seminars (total of 25 hours of private study).

The final assessment in the module is a review of an ecological economics policy proposal, conducted as a group project and written up as a group report, with 3-4 students per group (total of 40 hours of private study.)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Feedback on student progress is provided during the discussion component of each weekly seminar. Students also receive feedback from the seminar leader (as well as from their peers) on the verbal presentation that they deliver during the seminar. Although not assessed for marks, students must give a verbal presentation to pass the module. Assessment includes an 800 word op-ed piece (50%) and a final 8000 word group project (50%).

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Group Project8000 words50.00
Presentation10 minute verbal presentation0.00
AssignmentOp-ed piece 600-800 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students will be required to resit any of the failed components in order to pass the module. Any students who fail the group project will be required to prepare an individual 3000 word report on an ecological economics policy proposal (similar to the group project, but on a different topic).

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 22/08/2018


Browse Other Catalogues

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

© Copyright Leeds 2019