Theories of Sustainable Land Use

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

Finding ways to negotiate increasing pressures on land around the world is key to meet the sustainability challenge. The aim of this course is to give the student a thorough introduction to contemporary research and debates on sustainable land use in a period of rapidly increasing climate and environmental crises. The course integrates social science and ecological perspectives on competing uses of land, including production of food and energy, conservation, habitation and recreation. The concept land includes also coastal areas and marine resources. Students will discuss theoretical approaches to global and local complexities of sustainability, vulnerability and resilience. Central approaches to sustainability assessment are introduced, in addition to critical perspectives addressing sustainable land use interventions and policies for transition.

Learning Outcomes

A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • understands concepts of sustainability science and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and can critically reflect upon their content and on the dilemmas resulting from conflicting priorities
  • has knowledge of advanced contemporary geographical and interdisciplinary approaches to sustainable land use problems, including socio-ecological systems and political ecology
  • understands how the trends in land use are shaped by environmental, social, economic and political factors


The student

  • can read, understand, present and discuss advanced scientific texts on sustainability and land use subjects.
  • can identify, select and apply relevant analytical approaches to assessment of sustainability, vulnerability and resilience
  • can write informed texts discussing sustainability issues referring appropriately to literature and other sources

General competence

The student

  • can apply geographical theoretical approaches to land use relationships and conflicts

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
A bachelor's degree in Geography, or other relevant disciplines.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
GEO124, GEO131, GEO222, GEO281, GEO282 or similar courses
Access to the Course
MA in Geographies of Sustainable Development and MA in Geography, students from other relevant master's programmes at UiB and incoming exchange students with relevant background. Interested students from other programmes and exchange students are welcome to contact the Department of Geography (
Teaching and learning methods

One seminar (30 min) and lecture (60 min) combined, á 2 hours pr. week.

1-2 half-day summary seminars

Total: 16-20 hours

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Oral presentation of a given topic (3-4 students together, 20 min presentation + 10 min discussion) as an introduction to a specific lecture.

The compulsory activities must be approved in order to take the exam. Approved compulsory activities are valid in the current and following two semesters.

Forms of Assessment

Written exam on campus, 5 hours.

The exam will be given in the language in which the course is taught.

The exam can be submitted in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish

Grading Scale
Grading A-F
Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester.

A retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence according to § 5-5. If there is a retake exam for students with valid absence, all students with valid compulsory activity can sign up for the retake exam. If a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absences, you can sign up yourself in Studentweb after 15. January.

Reading List
The reading list will be ready before 1 July for the autumn semester and 1 Decemeber for the spring semester. 
Course Evaluation
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.  
Course Administrator
The Department of Geography at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.