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The Politics of Climate Change

Module titleThe Politics of Climate Change
Module codePOC3117
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr David Benson (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module aims to introduce you to the political and governance challenges presented by climate change. In taking this module you will learn that producing effective climate policy is an inherently complex activity because of: the politicisation of climate science; issues surrounding intra and intergenerational equity; the interconnectedness of climate change and sustainable development; the cross-sectoral and multi-actor dynamics of climate issues; and the interaction between different governance scales. For successful completion of the module you will need to have a strong background in politics, international relations or human geography.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to help you examine why the issue of climate change is so difficult to address. While being rooted in concepts from political science, it aims to provide you with a platform through which the climate change problematique can be analysed from different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives. Through a mixture of activities your learning will be organised around key aspects of climate change governance, namely: politicisation of science, the political economy of climate change, fairness in international negotiations’ and evaluating climate policy.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. evidence a significant depth of understanding about the role and perspectives of different actors involved in climate policy;
  • 2. demonstrate an excellent level of knowledge about the complexities of addressing climate change across different policy sectors and governance scales;
  • 3. evaluate critically policy initiatives to tackle climate change;
  • 4. identify examples of climate policy good practice, and produce a critical evaluation of the lessons that can be drawn;
  • 5. recognise and offer detailed explanations about the difficulties in reaching a meaningful global agreement on climate change.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. think critically, analyse debates and present coherent arguments on politics;
  • 7. evaluate critically the effectiveness of policy;
  • 8. understand and explain in-depth the reasons for and barriers to policy intervention;
  • 9. critically apply theories of political science and international relations to real-life political situations.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. effectively communicate complex topics in a coherent and well-structured manner.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The politicisation of climate science
  • The political economy of climate change
  • Climate policy evaluation
  • Communicating climate change
  • International climate policy

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity2211 x 2 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study78Reading and seminar preparation
Guided Independent Study50Course work preparation and writing


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Case study plan200 words1-3Written and oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Case study essay652,200 words1-10Written
Position paper351,350 words1-10Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Case study2,200 word case study1-10August/September reassessment period
Position paper1,350 words1-10August/September reassessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Boykoff, M. (Ed) (2010) The Politics of Climate Change: A Survey. Routledge: London.


Brandstedt, E. and Bergrian, A (2013) Climate Rights: Feasible or not? Environmental Politics. Vol.22, issue 3, pp. 394-409


Giddens, A. (2009) The Politics of Climate Change. Polity Press, Cambridge. pp. 1-28


Jordan, A., & Huitema, D. (2014). Innovations in climate policy: the politics of invention, diffusion, and evaluation. Environmental Politics23 (5), 715-734


O’Riordan T. (2001) Climate Change. In Timothy O’Riordan (ed) Environmental Science for Environmental Management, pp. 170-185. Pearson Education, Harlow

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Climate change. Environmental Policy. Climate change negotiations. Policy evaluation.

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date