Political Ecology of Development

Key information

Start date
End date
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

This is a core module for the MSc Environment, Politics and Development.  It presents a critical perspective on the relationship between environment and development, with a ’political ecology of development’ lens. The module focuses on the dynamics of socio-environmental change, giving attention to its material/economic, political/organisational as well as cultural/ideological dimensions.  In its first half, the module discusses empirical evidence and normative standpoints in relation to environmentalism, the emergence of ‘political ecology’ as a field, the critical perspectives that it was and is inspired by, and the institutional dynamics of socio-environmental change (under the headings governance & policy, markets, conflicts & security, movements). The second part of the module discusses specific ‘political ecologies of....’ and gives an overview of current issues in the field of environment, politics and development.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module


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

  • demonstrate knowledge of basic concepts and principles of the political ecology of development and the social history of its emergence;
  • demonstrate knowledge of theoretical approaches to the institutional dynamics of socio-environmental change;
  • demonstrate knowledge of core debates on selected thematic areas within the political ecology of development;
  • demonstrate capacity to apply these approaches and frameworks in analysis of environmental controversies.




Teaching takes place through a weekly 1 hour lecture and 1 hour tutorial.


Scope and syllabus


Disclaimer: This list is an indicative of the type of content that is proposed for the module subject to further refinemend and validation with the pertinent peers:

  1. Why worry about the environment? Poverty and planetary boundaries
  2. What is Political Ecology and why does it matter?
  3. Truth Claims in Socio-Nature
  4. Nature and capitalism: mainstream and heterodox political economy
  5. Struggles over meaning: anthropological approaches to the environment - Peter Mollinga
  6. Global Environmental History
  7. Feminist approaches to nature, environment and development
  8. The Resource Curse
  9. Urban water - the metabolism of cities
  10. Climate change
  11. From sustainability to the green economy
  12. Payments for and Markets in Environmental Services
  13. Environmental conflict and security
  14. Environmental Governance
  15. Parks, People and Poverty: the challenges of conservation and development in the 21st Century
  16. Mining, Livelihoods, and Indigenous Peoples
  17. Biofuels, Agrarian Change and Rural Livelihoods of Small- Scale Producers
  18. Environmental Social Movements
  19. Radical Alternatives to Development
  20. Conclusions


Method of assessment


100% coursework. Each student will be expected to submit:

  • One Reaction Paper Portfolio (3,000 words) (50%)
  • One Essay (3,000 words) (50%)

Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.



Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules