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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Political Ecology (GEGR11001)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe seeming intractability and growing urgency of current environmental crises have prompted a number of critiques of mainstream environmentalism and sustainable development. In such a context, this course explores the problems and limitations of mainstream thinking about the politics of nature. In particular, this course is based on the understanding that the contemporary environmental crisis and associated politics are fundamentally intertwined with the pursuit of 'development' as a well-established, enduring goal across the world.

As such, the course examines the complex intersections of the development project and mainstream environmentalism, focusing on implications for the wellbeing for people and nonhuman nature. This will include the critical analysis of key assumptions, concepts and interventions associated with conventional development and environmentalism. The importance of (i) scale (spatial, temporal, geopolitical and ontological), and (ii) of the connections between the global and the local, and the structural and the individual, in understanding and addressing contemporary socio-ecological problematics will be recurring themes in the course.

The course is primarily directed at evaluating established understandings of and approaches to environmental action, but also surveys alternative visions, approaches and practices that strive for greater socio-ecological equity. On the whole, the course will provide an empirically grounded and theoretically informed foundation for the critical analysis of and intervention in debates, policies and programmes relating to local and global environmental politics. Through the course, you will develop your own conceptual and political position on the politics of nature.
Course description Week 1 Introducing Political Ecology
Week 2 Political Ecology in context: Developmentality
Week 3 Wealth and nature 1: Environmental impacts
Week 4 Wealth and nature 2: Environmental action
Week 5 Protecting people: Food and hunger
Week 6 Protecting nature: Dilemmas in conservation
Week 7 The social construction of nature 1: Nature-culture
Week 8 The social construction of nature 2: Engineering natures
Week 9 More-than-human political ecologies
Week 10 Rethinking development
Week 11 Review
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is not open for auditing.

Knowledge or familiarity with social science literatures, research approaches, and writing conventions; students should be prepared to learn and follow the bibliographical, writing, and reading requirements of the course and the field of human geography more broadly, and to engage in student-led learning, and group work.

Background in the social sciences and familiarity with social science scholarship.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  40
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 33, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 100%:

Assessment 1, Summative
One book review (1200 words) 25%
Date of Assessment Hand-In 12 noon, Friday 27th October 2023, via Turnitin.

Assessment 2, summative:
One degree essay (3000 words) 75%
Date of Assessment Hand-In 12 noon, Friday 8th December 2023, via Turnitin

Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. critically understand the problems with mainstream environmentalism and sustainability;
  2. synthesise current conceptual debates and bring them into critical dialogue with real-world examples;
  3. understand how nature is produced in different settings and contexts;
  4. develop skills for independent critical engagement with the politics of nature.
Reading List
Adams, W. M. (2009). Green development: Environment and sustainability in a developing world (3rd ed.), London: Routledge.

Castree, N. (2013). Making sense of Nature. London: Routledge.

Desai, V. and Potter, R. (Eds.) (2014) The companion to development studies, London: Hodder Education

Guha, R., and Martinez-Alier, J. (1997). Varieties of environmentalism: Essays north and south, London: Earthscan.

Hinchliffe, S. (2007). Geographies of nature: societies, environments, ecologies. London: Sage

Lele S. (1991). Sustainable development: A critical review. World Development, 19(6), 607¿621.

Marcotullio, P J, and G McGranahan, eds. 2006. Scaling Urban Environmental Challenges: From Local to Global and Back. London, Sterling: VA: Earthscan

McMichael, P. 2012. Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective. Los Angeles, London: Sage.

Peet, R., and Watts, M. (Eds.). (2004). Liberation ecologies: Environment, development, social movements, London and New York: Routledge.

Peet, R., Robbins, P., & Watts, M. eds. (2011). Global Political Ecology. London & New York: Routledge.

Plumwood, V. (2002). Environmental culture: the ecological crisis of reason. London: Routledge.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Rubio Ramon Guillem
Course secretaryMrs Lynn Taylor
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