MSc Global Development (Politics, Governance and Development Policy) / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Key Issues in Environment and Development

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60801
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
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The unit aims to provide:

  •  A critical understanding of key theories on environment, climate change and development
  • An overview of the implications of environmental concerns and natural resource management (including climate change) on development policy and practice
  • An understanding of the interlinkages between climate change adaptation and mitigation

An opportunity for students to develop their range of competencies in transferable areas, including research, analysis, team-work and both written and verbal forms of communication


This module identifies the ways that concerns with environment and natural resource management affect development policy and practice.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Critical analysis of the role of scientific measurement and political values in defining environmental problems in developing countries and strategies to combat them.
  • Understanding of the theoretical basis for frameworks of environmental governance and familiarity with the experience of implementing such frameworks in developing countries.
  • Familiarity with models of environmental decision-making proposed to achieve 'sustainable development'

Intellectual skills

  • Critical thinking, reflection, self-awareness and an ability to take responsibility for your own learning
  • Information handling skills, evaluation and analysis of different kinds of evidence,
  • An ability to assess the merits of contrasting theories, explanations and their policy implications
  • An ability to develop, articulate and sustain logical, structured and reasoned arguments in both written and oral contexts

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Beyond the multiple critical thinking and understanding skills above:

  • Self management, time management and an ability to take responsibility for your own learning
  • A greater awareness of your responsibility as a local, national and international citizen and an interest in lifelong learning

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Teaching and learning will occur mainly through weekly lecture sessions and tutorials, the latter of which will be based around a mixture of student-led presentations, small group-work and class debates. Blackboard will be used to share key resources and stimulate discussions of critical issues amongst course participants.

Recommended reading

Adams, W. (2009) Green Development (3rd Ed.). London: Routledge.

Adger, W. N. and Jordan, A. (eds.) (2009) Governing Sustainability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Cambridge: CUP.

Adger, W. N., Lorenzoni, I. and O'Brien, K. L. (2009). Adapting to Climate Change: Thresholds, Values and Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Boyd, E., Osbahr, H., Ericksen, P., Tompkins, E. L., Lemos, M. C. and Miller, F. (2008). Resilience and ‘Climatizing’ Development: Examples and Policy Implications. Development, 51 (3), pp. 390-396.

Brooks, N., Grist, N. and Brown, K. (2009) Development Futures in the Context of Climate Change: Challenging the Present and Learning from the Past. Development Policy Review, 27 (6), pp. 741-765.

Dresner, S. (2008). The Principles of Sustainability (2nd Ed.). London: Earthscan, London.

Jordan, A., Rayner, T., Schroeder, H., Adger, W. N., Anderson, K., Bows, A., Quéré, C. L., Joshi, M., Mander, S., Vaughan, N., et al. (2013). Going Beyond Two Degrees? The Risks and Opportunities of Alternative Options. Climate Policy, 13 (6), 751-769.

Leach, M. and Mearns R. (1996) The Lie of the Land. Oxford: James Currey.

Middleton, N. (2008). The Global Casino: An Introduction to Environmental Issues (4th Ed.) London: Hodder Education.

O'Brien K. and Selboe, E. (eds.) (2014) The Adaptive Challenge of Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ostrom E. (1990) Governing the Commons. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Peet, R and Watts, M (2005) Liberation Ecologies (2nd Ed.) London: Routledge.

Peet, R and Watts, M (2011) Global Political Ecology. Abingdon: Routledge.

Robbins, P (2004) Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

Robbins, P., J. Hintz, et al. (2010). Environment and Society: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Tanner, T. and Horn-Phathanothai, L (2014) Climate Change and Development. Abington: Routledge.

Wisner, B., Gaillard, J, C. and Kelman, I. (2015) Disasters: Critical Concepts in the Environment. Abington: Routledge.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 18
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 126

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Tomas Frederiksen Unit coordinator

Return to course details