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 analyzed in light of theory of science where knowledge is viewed as 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

  • 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 environmental management 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.

Access to the Course

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

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

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Participation in online debates and online role play.

Forms of Assessment

Portfolio with 3 essays (50% of the total grade) and one online home exam (50% of the total grade).

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


Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Portfolio and take home exam

    Withdrawal deadline
    • Exam part: Portfolio (3 esssays)

      Submission deadline
      18.03.2019, 14:00
      Examination system
      Digital exam
    • Exam part: Online home exam

      Submission deadline
      05.04.2019, 14:00
      Examination system
      Digital exam