Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code ENVS325
Coordinator Prof DP Shaw
Geography and Planning
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2013-14 Level Three First Semester 15


This unit is designed to critically evaluate the political responses to the growing impact that environmental issues and the concept of sustainability are having on decision making at all levels of governance, (international, national and local). More specifically the unit aims to: 

1)         develop an understanding of the growing importance of environmental and sustainable development thinking in political decision-making processes; 

2)         explore different environmental attitudes, values and perspectives and examine the impact on various political perspectives;  

3)         develop an understanding of the opportunitie s and limitations of environmental decision making international dimension of environmental politics and its impact on nation states; 

4)         understand the role that environmental pressure groups have in shaping political decisions at the international, national and local levels of governance; 

5)         explore the policy responses at national and local levels to the new emerging environmental agenda

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students will be expected to have: 

1)         developed an appreciation of how environmental issues are being addressed at all levels of governance; 

2)         an understanding of different environmental values and attitudes and the way that these impact upon political philosophy and decision-making; 

3)         an understanding of the way that various environmental interest groups impact on political  and other decision making processes.




Over the last decade the environment, and perhaps more importantly the concept of sustainable development is claimed to have become a critical dimension that underpins decision making at a variety of different spatial scales more particularly, international, European, national, regional and local arenas. These arenas are interconnected not just in a top down way but also from a bottom up perspective leading to a highly complex set of inter-relationships between different levels of government and governance. In trying to make some sense of these dimensions six key themes will be explored during this module. Whilst they are dealt with discretely it must always be remembered that there are key inter-linkages between the themes: 

Theme 1            The growth of an enviro nmental agenda, meanings of sustainable development, and the importance of different and contested environmental philosophies, values and ethics.

Theme 2            The extent to which the international community recognizes acknowledges and responds to environmental concerns.

Theme 3            The role of the European Union in promoting environmental agendas

Theme 4            The response of national Governments and other political parties to the sustainable development agenda

Theme 5            The role and importance of environmental pressure groups and their impact on political decision making

Theme 6 & #160;          Towards environmental co-responsibility; the business and community response to the environmental agenda.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

The unit will be taught through a short and intensive lecture programme combined with a series of student-led seminars/workshops.


Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 16



Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 122


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Exam  2 hours  First  70  Yes, next normal opportunity     
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Essay    First  30  Yes, next normal opportunity     

Recommended Texts

Berkhout, F., Leach, M., Seames, I (2003), Negotiating Environmental Change, Edward Elgar

Carter, N. (2007),The Politics of the Environment, Ideas Activism Policy, (2nd Edition)Cambridge

Connelly, J and Smith, G (2003) Politics and Environment: From Theory to Practice, Routledge

Doyle T, and McEachen (2007), Environmental and Politics,(2nd Edition)Routledge

Howes M (2005)  Politics and the Environment, Earthscan