Energy Transition, Nature, and Development in a Time of Climate Change

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

Climate change is gradually changing the way we have been thinking about development and organising our 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 (renewable) sources of energy. Transitioning to solar, wind or agrofuels is presented by some as a potential solution to the development and energy challenges of developing countries. Paradoxically, while there seems to be a consensus on climate change, we are also witnessing a revival or mutation of fossil fuels that is having important consequences on nature, the access to land and the livelihoods of local populations, the gender division of labour and gender roles, as well as on the development paths of different countries. This course is intended for students interested in analysing how climate change, especially the discourse and policies around it, might be leading to a new global configuration of social forces around extractive industries and renewable energy. 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 course will focus on how different actors, notably from the fossil fuel sector (oil, gas, and coal), 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 course 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 2 hour seminar.

Method of assessment

100% coursework. Each student will be expected to complete one essay worth 60% of the overall grade and a literature review worth 40% of the overall grade.


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