Environment, Society and Politics

Level 2
Credits 20
Availability Approved for BA Geography; BSc/MGeogSci Geography; BSc/MEnvSci Environmental Science; BA Geography & Planning
Semester Spring

Environmental issues continue to be a key area of contemporary public concern and current political debate. They raise fundamental questions about the relationship between society and environment, and the politics of that relationship. This module provides a geographical introduction to these issues and debates with examples from a range of scales from the global to the local. After a review of key concepts, the module is developed through inter-related sections covering debates through different empirical themes.


• To familiarise students with key geographical theories and concepts for understanding society-environment relations including notions risk, practice and sustainability.
• To illustrate how these theories and concepts can be applied to understand current issues in key sectors (such as energy, waste, water, housing and food).
• To enable understanding of the different ways in which society-environment issues are always political, including critical engagement with environmental policy formation in these sectors and the relationship between environmental regulation and everyday life.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, a student will be able to demonstrate:
• An understanding of key geographical theoretical and conceptual approaches to society and environment relations.
• Knowledge of how these approaches can be applied to contemporary environmental issues.
• An appreciation of different ways in which environment-society relations are always political, including appreciation of the challenges posed for environmental policy-making in key sectors.

Outline Contents

• Introduction
• Approaching Environment and Society.
• Thematic blocks on topics such as:
• Energy
• Water
• Waste
• Food
• Housing
• Review and revision workshop

Delivery Methods Lectures (20hrs); Tutorials (6hrs)
Learning Hours Scheduled: 26hrs; Independent: 171.5hrs
Assessment 2.5hr Exam (85%); 5-min Group Presentation and group participation in stakeholder debates (approx. 20-mins) (15%)
Feedback Verbal feedback is given in tutorials. Students can also receive feedback on performance in exams by arranging a meeting with their Personal Tutor at the start of the following Semester. Students are encouraged to seek feedback at every opportunity.
Module Leader Dr Matt Watson