Postgraduate course

Discourses, Politics and People: Critical Perspectives on Environmental Governance

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 societal development. Create an in-depth understanding of important research themes within the nexus environment-society, presenting theories of relevance for the master thesis.

The course is based upon research within the fields of environment and development in a global perspective and aims to stimulate critical perspectives on established knowledge and 'facts' that have dominated strategies/policies. Myths and narratives about themes like climate change, biodiversity management, environmental degradation, energy policies and planning in different parts of the world are analysed based on the understanding that knowledge is socially constructed. Conventional views concerning environmental management are challenged in light of disequilibrium ecology and political ecology. In the interaction between people and nature, institutions are important for 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 an advanced understanding of how narratives and discourses on environmental management and social 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

  • analyses 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 environmental management problems through the supervised writing of essays and participation in debates.

General knowledge

The student

  • analyses 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.

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap

  • GEO335 (5 ECTS)
  • GEO336 (5 ECTS)

Access to the Course

Master's Programme in Geographies of Sustainable Development (MASV-MEHA) or Master's Programme in Geography (MASV-GEOG)

Teaching and learning methods

This is a blended learning course with both classroom and online engagement.

  • 7 online lectures
  • 7 interactive classroom seminars with 1 individual and 1 group presentation per student

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Participation in classroom seminars and presentations.

Forms of Assessment

Portfolio with:

  • 3 essays (50% of the total grade)
  • one online home exam (50% of the total grade).

The portfolio will be assessed as a whole with one final grade.

Grading Scale

Grading A-F

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


Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Portfolio

    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam
    • Exam part: Three essays

      Submission deadline
      03.03.2020, 14:00
      Examination system
      Digital exam
    • Exam part: Online Home Exam

      Assignment handed out
      16.03.2020, 09:00
      Submission deadline
      20.03.2020, 14:00
      Examination system
      Digital exam