Environment and Climate Crisis

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 3
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Politics and International Studies

Module overview

This module will investigate the global politics of the climate crisis, starting with scientific debates regarding the possible severity of climate change, and then moving through questions about climate governance, the political economy of climate change, the energy and food system transitions, migration, possible global futures, and activism. We can hardly hope to exhaust such a complex topic in the span of 10 weeks. Instead, we will cover some key topics and hear from a wide range of perspectives. The goal will be to give students a basic grounding in the science, politics, and economics of climate change; to enable them to critically engage with a multiple perspectives on the key causes and possible solutions to the climate crisis; and to help them think through its implications for their own lives and futures. The module will run in the form of seminars where the convenors leads discussions on the weekly readings and material.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Understand the key debates in the science and international politics of the environment and climate change.
  • Analyze the points of conflict and cooperation in the environment and climate change.
  • Critically evaluate existing theoretical approaches to the climate crisis and the various solutions they offer.
  • Develop their oral and written communication skills.


  • 1 hour lecture per week
  • 1 hour tutorial per week

Method of assessment

Assignment 1: 20%
Assignment 2: 80%

Suggested reading

  • Clapp, J. and Dauvergne, P., Paths to a Green World: The Political Economy of the Global Environment (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011). [Maps a typology of contrasting worldviews – liberals, institutionalists, bioenvironmentalists, and social greens – and applies it to the study of ecological change]
  • Angus, I., Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). [A very solid overview of the science of climate change and the inadequacy of existing governance approaches from an ecosocialist perspective]
  • Foster, J. B., Clark, B., and York, R., The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010). [Argues that the source of ecological crisis lies in the paradox of wealth in capitalist society, which expands individual riches at the expense of public wealth, including the wealth of nature]
  • Newell, P. and Bulkeley, H. A., Governing Climate Change (Abingdon: Routledge, 2015). [Perhaps the best introductory guide to the political economy of climate change]
  • Satgar, V (ed) The Climate Crisis: South African and Global Democratic Ecosocialist Alternatives (Wits University Press, Johannesburg) [An open-acess volume that can be downloaded online, provides a nice set of essays written from a climate justice perspective by authors across the global south)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules