SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Extractive Industries, Energy, Biofuels and Development in a Time of Climate Change (MSc RID)

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Term 2

Please note there are 25 places available on this module.

Climate change is gradually changing the way we think about development and organisation of economies and societies. We are told that we are approaching the end of the era of fossil-fuels and we have to begin to think about alternative sources of energy. Biofuels are presented by some as the solution to the development and energy problems of developing countries. Paradoxically, while there seems to be a consensus on climate change, we are also witnessing a new boom in extractive industries that are having important consequences on the environment, the access to land and livelihoods of local indigenous populations, the gender division of labour and gender roles, as well as on the development paths of different countries. 

This module is intended for students interested in analysing how climate change, especially the discourse and policies around it, might be lead to a new global configuration of social forces around extractive industries and biofuels. Will this new configuration change the ways in which developing countries have been integrated into the world economy since the beginning of the twentieth century and open new paths to development? Adopting a political economy approach, this module will focus on how different factors, notably large extractive industries (oil, gas, coal and mining), agribusiness, nation-states from the South and the North, as well as civil society organisations and social movements, are trying to influence and navigate the changing global discourse on climate change and energy transition in order to push their agendas and understandings of sustainable development. The module will do this through several case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, the student should be able to demonstrate:

  • A general understanding of the phenomenon of climate change and its consequences
  • An understanding of the complexity of actors and interests around the political economy of extractive industries, energy sector and biofuels
  • An ability to identification and understanding of the impact of divergent interests on the politics of development and environmental policies
  • An ability to identify, assess and apply different theoretical approaches to development, nature and sustainability from a multi-disciplinary perspective combining international political economy, sociology and political science


Teaching takes place through a weekly 3 hour seminar.

Scope and syllabus

This module will be delivered alongside the parallel module 'Extractive Industries, Energy, Biofuels and Development in a Time of Climate Change', worth 22.5 CATS credits. Students will have the opportunity to attend all lectures and tutorials, but the examinable component will be approximately 75% of the 22.5 CATS credits syllabus. Material delivered in the lectures and tutorials which is NOT examinable will equate to two of the ten weeks of the module, and will be identified by the module convenor and communicated to students at the start the module.

Method of assessment

50% exam, 40% coursework, 10% seminar participation. Students are required to submit one essay of no more than 3000 worth 30% of the overall grade, a literature review of no more than 1750 words worth 10% of the overall grade.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules