Postgraduate course

Discourses, Politics and People: Critical Perspectives on Environmental Governance

  • 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 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 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

  • 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 web based course.

  • 7 online written lectures (sessions)
  • 3 online assignments with supervision
  • Online discussions
  • Interactive classroom seminars with presentations

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Online discussions and oral 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