SOAS University of London

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy

Global Energy & Climate Policy

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Full Year

Climate change has, in turn, been described as a ‘super wicked problem’, the ‘ultimate collective action problem’, and the ‘defining issue of our time’. Energy production and consumption are both its main cause and the key to its solution. Solving the climate emergency requires ambitious policies to shift the world from its current carbon-intensive path to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the middle of this century. This module aims to introduce students to the core themes and approaches in the study of global energy and climate policy as two interconnected fields. 

The module examines the historical, technological, political, regulatory and economic aspects of energy and climate change, drawing on examples from both the Global North and South. More specifically, Global Energy and Climate Policy critically reflects on the changing role of crude oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear power and renewable sources such as wind and solar PV with a view to national energy policies, global energy markets and the challenge of effectively addressing climate change. It investigates international regime formation and diplomacy in the energy and climate change fields, addresses energy security and the geopolitical dimensions of energy supply and demand, and provides a close examination of regulatory approaches to reducing GHG emissions and building the low-carbon economy of the future.
This course is available to all Postgraduate Taught Students at SOAS

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

• An understanding of the main issues in the field of global energy and climate policy and how they are interconnected.
• The ability to critically analyse academic and policy documents relating to energy, climate change and sustainability.
• The analytical and research skills necessary to interpret and assess the ways in which public and private actors have responded to the global energy and climate challenge.
• The ability to apply academic concepts and theories to case studies drawn from the Global North and South.
• The ability to participate in contemporary debates on global energy and climate policy.


The course will be taught over 20 weeks with one 1 hour lecture and one 1 hour tutorial per week.

Method of assessment

  • Assessment one (2000 words); 30%
  • Assessment two (2000 words); 30%
  • Assessment three (1000 words); 10%
  • Unseen written examination; 30%

Suggested reading

• Grubb, Michael (2014), Planetary Economics: Energy, Climate Change and the Three Domains of Sustainable Development, London: Routledge.
• Gupta, Joyeeta (2014), The History of Global Climate Governance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Kuzemko, Caroline, Andreas Goldthau and Michael E. Keating (2015), The Global Energy Challenge: Environment, Development and Security, London: Palgrave Macmillan.
• Smil, Vaclav (2018), Energy and Civilization: A History, Cambridge: MIT Press.
• Van de Graaf, Thijs and Benjamin K. Sovacool (2020), Global Energy Politics, Cambridge: Polity Press.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules