The Politics of the Environment

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

Environmental problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution are now firmly on the political agenda and cannot be ignored by governments, political parties, businesses or citizens. However, despite a near universal consensus that there is a need for a "greener" society, "green" issues continue to be a major cause of political controversy.

This module is designed to introduce students to the ways in which the environment features in contemporary political issues and thought.

The module will focus on three core components of environmental politics, namely:

  1. the study of political theories and ideas relating to the environment;
  2. the examination of political parties, environmental movements and other agents of change; and
  3. the analysis of public policymaking and implementation affecting the environment at the international, national and local level.

Students will be encouraged to use a comparative approach to analyse differences in the way in which the environment informs ideology and political activity throughout the world. This comparative focus will enable students to develop a clearer perception, and more critical understanding, of the impact of green politics upon traditional politics and policy.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the module, students should have achieved the following learning outcomes:


  • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of different ways of thinking politically about the environment, including ethical questions about how humans ought to act towards nature, the distinctiveness of green political ideas and their relationship with other ideologies.
  • Critically evaluate different ways of achieving a sustainable society, focusing on action by green parties, established political parties, the environmental movement, businesses and policymakers.
  • Understand key concepts and principles in the study of environmental policy and law.


  • Be able to analyse and assess the key policy options and challenges facing policymakers when designing and implementing environmental policies at different levels (international, national and local).
  • Be able to apply a (green) theoretical framework to empirical data to analyse a problem and construct a coherent and persuasive argument.
  • Identify, analyse and critically assess various strategies for (environmental) policymaking and implementation.
  • Compare, reflect on and discuss (green) policymaking at different levels and in different parts of the world.

General competence

  • Critical and independent reading, thinking and writing.
  • Capacity to combine theoretical and empirical knowledge.
  • Be able to assess and engage in (environmental) policy debates on problems and solutions.
  • Understand the relevance of the core character of political and institutional systems for (environmental) policy outcomes.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
Open to all students at the University of Bergen
Teaching and learning methods

Form: Lectures and seminars

Number of lectures: 10-12

Number of seminars: 5-7

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Two compulsory presentations in seminars.

The compulsory requirements must be approved before the student can take the exam. Approved compulsory requirements have no time limit.

Forms of Assessment

Students have to deliver an essay of a maximum of 3500 words by the end of the semester.

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
Graded A-F 
Assessment Semester

Assessment in teaching semester.

Re-take exams are arranged for students with valid absence according to § 5-5 of the Study Regulations at UiB. If a retake exam are arranged for students with valid absence, students with the following results can also register:

  • Interruption during the exam
  • Fail/Not passed

 If you qualify for the retake exam and a retake exam is arranged for students with valid absence, you can register yourself in Studentweb after August 1.

Reading List
The reading list will be ready before 1. July for the autumn semester and 1. December 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 Comparative Politics at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.