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School of Environment, Education and Development

A mineral mine in Central America
MSc Environmental Governance
Critically consider approaches to regulating human use of the non-human world.

MSc Environmental Governance / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Key Debates in Environmental Governance

Unit code GEOG40121
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit introduces students to the concept of environmental governance, and the main current debates around the environment. It will consider ‘governance’ in the broadest sense, including how the environment is controlled, manipulated, and regulated (and the contestation of these processes) by a range of actors and institutions, and the cognitive and normative ideas that underpin this process. The unit will explore a broad range of approaches that span the political spectrum from left to right, in addition to considering more contemporary debates within the field. Abstract theoretical and conceptual material is intended to complement case studies of real world issues and applied policy examples from other course units, and to prepare students intellectually for future research.


  • Understand the dominant approaches to environmental governance.
  • Interrogate and apply the main critiques of dominant approaches to environmental governance.
  • Link contemporary environmental debates to academic debates

Learning outcomes

The unit will equip students with the necessary grounding to appreciate how different political and philosophical systems can be used to organise environmental regulation. The over-riding rationale of the unit is to provide students with the ability to recognise and critique the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to environmental governance. The unit is delivered primarily through structured seminars, student presentations, and debates in order to facilitate student engagement with ideas and concepts.

Teaching and learning methods

The unit will be delivered through lectures, seminars, bogging, and students readings of key texts. All materials are available on Blackboard.  Questions regarding the course should be posted on the discussion board so that all students can benefit from the answers.

Assessment methods

Essay (50%)

Seminar (PowerPoint) presentation (in class) 20 min presentation (30%)

Public Debate contribution + in class contribution during semester (20%)

Feedback methods

Week-by-week detailed oral feedback on:  presentation skills, presentation content, and presentation style. 
written (on line) on final essay
Verbal Feedback on ‘public’ debate

Recommended reading

Key readings, week-by-week readings, ‘grey literature’ links to real world current issues, web lectures.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 6
Seminars 24
Tutorials 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 118

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Maria Kaika Unit coordinator

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