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The Geopolitics of Environment and Resources


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: a 1000-1500-word critical review (25%), 3000-3500-word essay (65%) and two online quizzes (10%)

Module description

In this interdisciplinary module we focus on the relationship between population, environment and global politics. Drawing on normative and critical political theory, political geography, political economy, international relations, critical geopolitics, demography, sociology and gender studies, we will combine a critical, theoretical approach with attention to case studies, analysis of recent public policy documents and empirical data.

On this module you will gain the skills and materials needed to understand the trajectories of current demographic and environmental change, and to appreciate the tensions and contradictions they generate in the geopolitical realm through relationships between and across states and regions.

Specifically, we seek to critically explore the political interactions between notions of scarcity and abundance, nature and society, the human and the nonhuman, population growth and control, and conflict and cooperation in the exploitation of natural resources at a planetary level. Throughout, we ask normative questions about controversial issues and examine the underlying assumptions and interests invested in the answers given.

We aim to familiarise you with theoretical frames of analysis which shed light on the race, class and gender aspects of population control and environmental degradation. The most recent literature on how environmental and social pressures are managed in urban and rural contexts will also be covered in weeks on urban ecologies and extractivism.

There are opportunities to undertake your own case studies of geopolitical, population and environmental occurrences and debates in particular countries.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will:

  • be familiar with the main concepts and theories applied to the study of population, environment and global politics
  • be conversant with debates concerning demographic and environmental change
  • be able to analyse the relations between scales (e.g. international, local) and to historicise concepts and problems
  • be able to assess the validity of analytical distinctions, and produce well-sourced, argument-driven essays.