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2021/22 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5483M Critical Perspectives in Environment and Development

15 creditsClass Size: 110

Module manager: George Holmes

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

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 in part 1 of the module to push critical and reflective thinking about mainstream ideas of environmental change and development. In part 2 of the module, key concepts and topical issues in the environment-development field 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 and reflectively about policy and practical developments in the environment-development field.
4. To encourage students to think critically and reflectively 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. Critical evaluation of complex environment-development issues and associated research.
3. Understanding the balance between theory and practice.
4. Written and oral communication.
5. Reflective thinking and writing.
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 informed by research expertise in the Sustainability Research Institute, e.g.
- Ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and human wellbeing
- Natural resource management and participatory development
- Livelihood dynamics and resilience - Food security and agricultural development
- Climate compatible development

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours128.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Weekly reading - 42 hours
Critical reflection of weekly learning journal entries - 30 hours
Preparation for research paper - 56 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Monitoring of student progress takes place on a weekly basis during classes.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
AssignmentResearch Review Paper (3,000 words)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The re-sit 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: 30/06/2021 16:25:49


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