Core subject: The Politics of Environment and Climate

Course content

This masters’ core course will introduce, inform, and equip students for understanding and analysing the politics of the environment and climate change for the 21st century. The course begins by introducing the history, philosophy, and ideology of green, environmental, and ecological thinking over the past 60 years. The course will then provide the analytical, scientific, and political foundations for understanding the environment and climate change through training in theory and method, environmental science, and planetary politics. The course will then examine the scales of environmental and climate politics through the exploration of global, EU, state-based, and local climate governance, using both traditional and critical theories of environmental politics and governance, as well as case-studies. The course ends by reflecting on the ways of bringing about change in environmental and climate politics, as developed throughout the course.


Indicative Topics:

  • Introduction
  • Green history and philosophy
  • Theories of environmental politics
  • Methods for analyzing environmental politics
  • Environmental science
  • Planetary perspectives
  • Global climate governance and politics
  • EU climate governance and politics
  • National climate governance and politics
  • Local climate governance and politics
  • Bringing about change in environmental and climate politics

Core subject in the core-subject track in The Politics of Environment, Climate and Sustainability. Only accessible to students who are admitted to the core-subject track.


NB! All exams (both ordinary and re-exams) will take place at the end of the autumn semester only, as the course is not offered in the spring


Notice: It is only possible to enroll for one course having a 3-day compulsory written take-home assignment exam due to coincident exam periods.

Learning outcome


Students will be able to:

  • Give an account of Green Politics as a way understanding for the causes of environmental and climate change as well as efforts to address these issues.
  • Identify the various social and ecological factors that shape environmental and climate politics.
  • Describe environmental and climate policy efforts at different levels.



Students will be able to:

  • Differentiate between disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to analyzing environmental and climate politics.
  • Apply theoretical concepts to discussions of environmental and climate politics.



Students will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate different explanations for the causes of environmental and climate change and efforts to address these issues.
  • Communicate and explain complex arguments about environmental and climate politics. 

This masters-level Active Learning core course requires Preparation, Participation, and Positive attitude:
Preparation means that the course uses Active Learning pedagogy with a constructive alignment between learning goals, learning activities, and assessment. Students will participate in weekly learning activities designed to ensure constructive alignment and must prepare accordingly.
Participation means that students will be participating in course-long learning activities and draft assignment writing activities.
Positive attitude means that students will constructively participate in the weekly group learning activities which form the core of the course.
Masters’ students who do not wish to learn through a constructive alignment of learning goals, learning activities, and assessment should not take this course.


  • Bäckstrand, K. and Lövbrand, E., 2019. The road to Paris: Contending climate governance discourses in the post-Copenhagen era. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 21(5), pp.519-532.
  • Betsill, M.M. and Fiske, D., 2019. International climate change policy: complex multilevel governance. In The Global Environment: Institutions, Law, and Policy, 5th edition, pp. 371-304
  • Botkin, Daniel B. and Edward A. Keller, Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet, 9th edn. (Wiley, 2014).
  • Bruno Latour (2018) Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (Polity)
  • Bulkeley, Harriet and Peter Newell (2010) Governing Climate Change (Routledge).
  • Carter, Neil (2018) The Politics of the Environment: Ideas, Activism, Policy (CUP).
  • Claire Dupont, Sebastian Oberthür, and Katja Biedenkopf, 'Climate Change: Adapting to Evolving Internal and External Dynamics', in Diarmuid Torney, Katja Biedenkopf, and Camilla Adelle (eds.) European Union External Environmental Policy Rules, Regulation and Governance Beyond Borders (London: Palgrave, 2018), pp. 105-221
  • Clapp, Jennifer, and Peter Dauvergne (2011) Paths to a Green World: The Political Economy of the Global Environment, 2nd edn. (MIT Press).
  • Connelly, James, Graham Smith, David Benson and Clare Saunders (2012) Politics and the Environment: From Theory to Practice, 3rd edn. (Routledge).
  • Elizabeth Shove ‘Beyond the ABC: climate change and the theories of social change’, Environment and Planning A, Vol. 42, pp. 1273-1285
  • Hajer, Maarten (1995) The Politics of Environmental Discourse: Ecological Modernization and the Policy Process (Clarendon).
  • Hale, T., 2016. “All hands on deck”: the Paris Agreement and non-state climate action. Global Environmental Politics, 16 (3), 12–22 [11 pgs.]
  • Harris, Paul (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Global Environmental Politics (Routledge, 2013), pp. 272-283
  • Hoff, Jens, Quentin Gausset & Simon W. Lex (eds.) (2019) The Role of Non-state Actors in the Green Transition: Building a Sustainable Future. (Routledge).
  • Jake Werksman, Jürgen Lefevere and Artur Runge-Metzger, 'The EU and International Climate Change Policy', in Jos Delbeke and Peter Vis (eds.) EU Climate Policy Explained (London: Routledge, 2015), pp. 109-124
  • Lars Tønder, ‘Five Theses for Political Theory in the Anthropocene’ (Theory & Event 2017).
  • Mortensen, Jens L., ‘Crisis, Compromise and Institutional Leadership in Global Trade: Unfair Trade, Sustainable Trade, and Durability of the Liberal Trading Order’, Chinese Political Science Review, 2017, 2(4): 531–549.
  • Per Ove Eikeland and Jon Birger Skjærseth ‘Introduction´, Analytical framework’ and ‘Evolution of EU climate and energy policies’ in Jon Birger Skjærseth, Per Ove Eikeland, Lars H. Gulbrandsen and Torbjørg Jevnaker: Linking EU Climate and Energy Policies. Decision-Making, Implementation and Reform. (Edward Elgar: Cheltenham, UK), pp. 1-70
  • Romand Coles (2016) Visionary Pragmatism: Radical and Ecological Democracy in Neoliberal Times (Duke University Press).
  • Steffen, Will,  Katherine Richardson, Johan Rockström, et al, ‘Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet’, Science 347, no. 6223 (2015)
  • Stevenson, Hayley (2017) Global Environmental Politics: Problems, Policy and Practice (CUP).

BA level in political science, international relations, or similar competence, and an interest in understanding the politics of the environment and climate change.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
Three-day compulsory written take-home assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

- In the semester where the course takes place: Three-day compulsory written take-home assignment

- In subsequent semesters: Free written assignment


NB! All exams (both ordinary and re-exams) will take place at the end of the autumn semesters only, as the course is not offered in the spring.


Notice: It is only possible to enroll for one course having a 3-day compulsory written take-home assignment exam due to coincident exam periods.


Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • English
  • 56


Course number
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 semester

Department of Political Science, Study Council
Contracting department
  • Department of Political Science
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Social Sciences
Course Coordinator
  • Michele Merrill Betsill   (9-7031656877766c6f6f436c6976316e7831676e)
Saved on the 28-04-2023

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students