Postgraduate course

Critical Perspectives on Environment and Development

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeGEO337
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Level of Study


Teaching semester


Place of Instruction

Teaching through the learning platform Mitt UiB.

Objectives and Content

Give the student an introduction to current theories on environment and development. Create an in-depth understanding of important research themes within development geography and environmental geography, often of relevance for the master thesis.

The course is based upon research within the fields of environment and development and aims to stimulate critical perspectives on established knowledge and 'facts' that have dominated development strategies/policies. Myths and narratives about themes like climate change, deforestation, desertification and erosion are analyzed in light of theory of science where knowledge is viewed as socially constructed. Conventional views concerning land degradation are challenged in light of new ecology and political ecology. In the interaction between people and nature, institutions are important different groups¿ access to and governance of natural resources. The course is concerned with knowledge about power relations in the encounter between local communities and global discourses and institutions.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • Demonstrates advanced understanding of how narratives and discourses on environmental management and development theory and practice may represent social constructions and underlying power structures, and how this shapes conventional thinking and policy making in the theoretical fields.


The student

  • analyzes and reflects independently upon how knowledge about complex problems are constructed and represented in academic sciences and in other power arenas.
  • critically and actively uses literature and other sources in the presentation and discussion of environment- and development problems through the supervised writing of essays and participation in debates.

General knowledge

The student

  • analyzes general discourses and narratives.
  • can apply critical approaches to new thematic fields.
  • can communicate and contribute to alternative approaches and understandings of environmental and development problems.
  • can apply correct academic writing and referencing techniques.

Required Previous Knowledge

Bachelor in geography, development studies or equivalent. Basic skills in the use of a computer and the Internet.

Recommended Previous Knowledge

GEO131, GEO231 and GEO292

Access to the Course

Open for all master students but the course has a limited number of places. Students at the Master's Programme in Development Geography and Master's Programme in Geography will be prioritized. GEO337 is obligatory for Master's students in Delveopment Geography. The course is a "Special topic course". The coursework requirement in the Master's programme in Geography includes two special topics courses.

Teaching and learning methods

This is a Web-based course.

  • 7-8 online written lectures (Sessions)
  • 3-4 online assignments with supervision
  • Online debate
  • Online role play
  • Film seminars for students in Bergen

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Participation in online debates and online role play.

Forms of Assessment

Portfolio with 3 essays and one online home exam. One joint grade will be given.

Grading Scale

Grading A-F

Subject Overlap

GEO335 - 5 ects
GEO336 - 5 ects

Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester

Course Evaluation

Department of Geography evaluates a third of its course portfolio each semester. GEO337 will therefore be evaluated at least every third time the course is offered. 


Department of Geography


Contact Information

Department of Geography