Land Use Transitions in the Global South

Course content

The aim of the course is to provide an overview of the dominant contemporary land use transitions taking place in low and middle income countries and discuss how recent advances in land systems science are applied to understand these transitions. Using case studies from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific, the course explores biophysical, socio-economic as well as institutional aspects of land use and land use change. The course moreover explores land-use transitions within the framework of ongoing international debates related to sustainable development such as economic globalization, global food crises, large scale land acquisitions and nature conservation as well as local and distant drivers of land-use transitions and geographic displacement of land use in the telecoupled world. Land use planning and issues related to the management of land and natural resources in the Global South are also discussed as is the role of Geographic Information Science (GIS) and satellite based land use change monitoring and scenarios to characterize the transitions. Overall the course aims at analyzing land use change through a range of analytical lenses and the possibilities and constraints of different analytical and methodological approaches will be assessed. Topics of particular interest to the participating students will be identified at the beginning of the course and will receive more in depth attention.


MSc Programme in Environment and Development
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics with a minor subject

Learning outcome


Dominant land use transitions in low and middle income countries, theoretical aspects and terminology of land use change and land systems science, main local and global drivers of land use transitions, barriers to change, implications of global processes for local land use, impacts of local and global land management policies for land use, practical aspects of land use change research in the Global South including how land use transitions relate to international sustainable development agendas.



  • Identify emerging issues in land systems science and land use transitions in the low and middle income countries, acquire in depth knowledge of a particular issue, and subsequently present and discuss this issue

  • Assess the potential impact of global, national and local drivers on land use transitions

  • Identify relevant theories and approaches for analysing land use change in the Global South



  • Discuss and critically reflect upon different aspects of land use transitions in the Global South

  • Analyze and describe drivers and impacts of particular land use transitions

  • Analyze, assess and apply results, methods, theory and data in connection with land use transitions in the Global South

The form of teaching is theory exercises combined with ad hoc lectures. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.

Please see Absalon course page.

BSc in Geography and Geoinformatics or equivalent is recommended.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, during course
The written assignment is prepared during the course and handed in during the exam week.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 171
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • English
  • 206