Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Anthropology

Postgraduate Course: Energy in the Global South (PGSP11422)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAccess to modern energy is seen as fundamental to reducing poverty, and improving education, livelihoods and health across the global South. Yet in the context of climate change and the UN's sustainable development goals the question of what kind of energy is appropriate for whom has become more important than ever. Meanwhile, the quest for new reserves of fossil fuels and attempts to increase the use of alternative energy is transforming relationships between the global south and the global north.

This course approaches the study of energy, fuel and electricity in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the Pacific as the study of social, cultural and political change. We will explore both the role of energy in post-colonial projects of nationalist modernisation and the place of energy in contemporary projects of socio-economic development. We will explore the social and cultural politics of oil, coal, hydro electricity, wind and solar. And we will shift focus between big infrastructure projects, like dams and coal plants, designed to generate electricity for people living on the grid to small, decentralised infrastructures projects designed for those living off the grid.
Course description This course will introduce students to perspectives on energy from anthropology (and politics, sociology and geography), and to studies of low carbon energy transitions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The course is built around weekly case studies drawn from diverse global contexts and focused on specific examples. The course will utilise a variety of research-led teaching and learning techniques, applying critical pedagogical approaches and building key skills to apply innovative research methods.

The course will be of particular interest to students taking programmes in international development, social anthropology, politics and international relations, sociology, human geography as well as area studies, economics and law.

Indicative themes and topics:
* The First Fuels: Labour, Colonialism and the Anthropocene
* Power, Modernity and the Grid
* Life off the Grid: Energy Poverty in Light, Heat and Power
* Democratic Fuel? Coal, Justice, and Displacement
* Lifeblood: Oil and Extractive Geopolitics in the Global South
* Damned by the Development: Hydroelectric Infrastructure
* Capitalising on the Sun: From Decentralised Solar Futures to Enclosing the Solar Commons
* Green Grabbing: Wind, Biofuels and Corporate Power
* From Uranium to Lithium: The Techno-politics of Extraction and Waste
* Overheating: Climate emergency and energy demand in the global south
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  45
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Assessment will be based on:

(i) Short Essay: ¿Energy and Development in 50 Things¿ (30%)
a. Details: photo essay about an energy technology or infrastructure
b. Word count: 500 words + 5 images
c. Nb. Formal guidance will be given for how to prepare strong contributions which should have (not included in the word count) a list of at least 5 academic references in the bibliography.

(ii) Energising Development: Real World Case Study (70%)
a. Details: How does fuel and electricity underpin social and economic change in the Global South?¿ Address this question in reference to a detailed example.
b. World count: 3,500 words
c. N.b Formal guidance will be given for how to prepare a strong piece of writing which should have (not included in the word count) a list of at least 20 academic references in the bibliography.

Feedback Feedback for coursework will be returned online via ELMA.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critical awareness and extensive knowledge of key debates about the role of energy in development
  2. In-depth understanding of the power relationships involved in the extraction of fossil fuel reserves and transitions to low carbon or alternative energy futures.
  3. Ability to critically analyse and evaluate the energy infrastructure projects and low development projects initiated by governments, international finance organisations, development agencies, social entrepreneurs, NGO and rural communities.
  4. Ability to identify and effectively navigate methodological and ethical complexities of researching energy in the Global South
Reading List
Miller, Damian. Selling solar: the diffusion of renewable energy in emerging markets. Routledge, 2012.
Mitchell, Timothy. 2011. Carbon democracy: Political power in the age of oil. Verso Books
Smits, Mattijs 2015 Southeast Asian Energy Transitions: Between Modernity and Sustainability. Ashgate
Strauss, Sarah, Stephanie Rupp, and Thomas Love, eds. 2013 Cultures of energy: power, practices, technologies. Left Coast Press.
Winther, Tanja. 2013. The impact of electricity: Development, desires and dilemmas. Berghahn Book
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the programme, students will be equipped with new skills in:

Synthesising and analysing empirical and theoretical material from a variety of sources.

Examining, using and assessing evidence in support of explanatory and normative claims.

Developing and evaluating arguments that take different kinds of social complexity into account.

Exercising informed independent thought and critical judgement.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sophie Haines
Tel: (0131 6)51 1717
Course secretaryMiss Celia Atherton
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information