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Postgraduate course

Law & Politics of Climate Change Governance

  • ECTS credits10
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeSAMPOL370
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Main content

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Teaching semester

Spring - irregular

Place of Instruction

Digital course - zoom

Objectives and Content

Law & Politics of Climate Change Governance is a graduate research course that explores the nature and role of the global climate governance regime and domestic climate governance in devising ways to mitigate climate change and adapt to impacts that are already inevitable. The course critically examines how global norms meet local politics and the role of political mobilization in securing accountability for responsible climate action. The course aims to provide students with the tools to critically analyze complex, multi-level climate governance challenges.

Governance & Politics of Climate Change is divided into six themes

  1. the forecasts of climate change science - where climate scientists will present updated knowledge on what is needed from a natural science perspective to keep global warming to a level that is compatible with human life
  2. theories and principles of climate justice - here the students will critically engage with different theoretical perspectives on what we owe to future generations and to ecosystems, how carbon emissions should be counted and how the burdens of mitigating and adapting to climate change should be distributed
  3. the global climate change regime - here the students will learn about the basic structure of global climate governance and how it has developed over time and engage with people who are or have been involved in international climate negotiation
  4. multi-scalar climate governance: when global principles meet local politics - here the students will be divided into groups each studying how different countries relate to international climate commitments, critically the political dynamics of climate change regulation and policy in each context
  5. mobilizing for responsible climate policy - here the students will engage, individually and in groups with different forms of climate politics from below. This will range from Climate litigation in courts around the globe, to street action by groups like Extinction rebellion and School strike for the climate, and use of the arts (visual arts, literature, drama) to promote climate awareness and action.
  6. climate migrants - how to deal with massive numbers of people fleeing from areas that become uninhabitable due to changes in the climate (including from submerged island) is one of the major challenges of our time. From a political science perspective, it engages basic questions of sovereignty, borders, citizenship, migration and refugee governance, human rights and social justice. In this part of the course students will be challenged to think of paths ahead.

Throughout, the course draws on normative as well as empirical research, thus integrating two areas of research that usually are studied independently of each other. The course includes themes that have high relevance for subfields of comparative politics: democracy, political mobilization, governance, inequality, citizenship.

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes:


  • display familiarity with the basic forecasts of climate science
  • identify theories of climate justice and principles for counting climate emissions and distributing burdens
  • demonstrate knowledge of the global climate change regime
  • demonstrate knowledge of domestic approaches to climate governance
  • display familiarity with and critically evaluate debates around climate policy
  • display familiarity and ability to critically engage theories of social and legal mobilization
  • demonstrate knowledge of climate activism through litigation, and in other arenas
  • demonstrate knowledge about the complexities of climate migration


  • analyze and critically reflect upon key dilemmas of climate governance, both from normative and practical perspectives; including the political and power dynamics shaping climate policy
  • discuss and debate the adequacy of different climate change governance systems, and the relative strength of different approaches to securing accountability for climate change;
  • develop skills in reflecting on and debating possible paths ahead fo complex climate related governance challenges, including climate migration
  • analyze and critically reflect upon the multidimensional effects of different forms of social and legal mobilization
  • work in groups - in a digital format - to solve complex challenges
  • write a blog post
  • complete an academic paper

General competence

  • understand linkages between abstract theories and principles, scientific knowledge, and policy responses;
  • understand the importance of local context (economy, power relations, culture, history) for understanding possibilities for political action;

Required Previous Knowledge

Students must have completed a bachelor's degree in political science or an equivalent relevant degree (subject to approval by the administration of the Department of Comparative Politics).

Recommended Previous Knowledge


Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap


Access to the Course

The course is oriented towards students who have been accepted into the department's master's program but is open to visiting students upon approval of student request.

Teaching and learning methods

Digital lectures and seminars, public webinars, group work and group presentations, writing of reflection notes, blogs, and an academic paper

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

  • Full attendance at no fewer than 80% of the seminars.
  • Two group reflection notes. All students are required to participate in groups to discuss the literature and submit two collaborative reflection notes based on course readings
  • Two group presentations. All students are required to work in group on two assigned tasks and make (digital) class presentations

Forms of Assessment

The assessment consists of two parts:

  • A publishable blog post (500 words) on an agreed topic
  • An essay of maximum (3500 words) on a topic related to the course

The blog post will contribute 25% of the final grade for the course, while the essay will contribute the remaining 75%. All parts must be passed for course fulfillment.

Grading Scale

Graded A-F

Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester

Reading List

The reading list will be ready before 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 Decemeber for the spring semester.

Course Evaluation

All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education. ¿

Programme Committee

The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.

Course Coordinator

Course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB.

Course Administrator

Department of Comparative Politics at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme