DV415      Half Unit
Global Environmental Governance

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Timothy Forsyth CON.8.05


This course is available on the MPA in International Development, MSc in Accounting, Organisations and Institutions, MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development (Management), MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Environment and Development, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Global Politics (Global Civil Society), MSc in Health, Community and Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research), MSc in Public Policy and Administration, MSc in Regulation and MSc in Regulation (Research). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Please note that in case of over-subscription to this course priority will be given to students from the Department of International Development and its joint degrees (where their regulations permit). This course is capped at 45 students.

Course content

This course is for any MSc. student who wishes to study the politics of global environmental policy from the perspective of environmental governance and international development. The aim is to summarize debates about ‘global’ environmental problems and to review the contributions of debates about ‘governance’ to political solutions. The main theoretical focus of the course is on understanding the means and mechanisms of governance concerning global environmental change, and the role of the political institutions that bring actors at different scales together, or which allow political debate about the problems and proposed solutions to global environmental change.

Some of this draws upon debates from the discipline of International Relations, and particularly regime theory. But this is not just an ‘IR’ course, and does not focus only on agreements or conflicts between states. Rather, the course considers global environmental governance as something that can be conducted at any spatial scale, and which involves state and non-state actors. Indeed, some of the most difficult political problems arise when trying to implement global policy at the sub-state scale, such as the clashes between local forest users in developing countries and international actors implementing ‘global’ climate and biodiversity policies. The course also uses draws on debates about governance; the politics of environmental science and expertise; political economy of development; the role of non-state actors such as NGOs, international organizations (e.g. World Bank), and international trade and investment. The main ‘problems’ discussed in this course are climate change, biodiversity, and forests.

The course will run in parallel with DV413: Environmental problems, politics and development, which may be taken or audited in addition to this course.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

Indicative reading

There is no single textbook for this course, but we recommend the following as a basic reading list:

Betsill, M. and Corell, E. (eds) NGO Diplomacy: The Influence of Nongovernmental Organizations in International Enviromental Negotiations, MIT Press, 2007

Biermann, F, Pattberg, P. and Zelli, F. (eds) Global Climate Governance Beyond 2012: Architecture, Agency and Adaptation, Cambridge University Press, 2010

Biermann, F., Siebenhuner, B. and Schreyogg, A. (eds)  International Organizations in Global Environmental Governance, Routledge, 2009

Bulkeley, H. and Newell, P. Governing Climate Change, Routledge, 2010. 

Chasek, Pamela S., David L. Downie, and Janet Welsh Brown. Global Environmental Politics, 4th Edition. Boulder: Westview Press, 2006.

Dauvergne, P. (ed) (2005) Handbook of global environmental politics,: Elgar.

Forsyth, T. (2003) Critical Political Ecology, Chapter 7. 

Goldman, M. (2005) Imperial nature: the World Bank and struggles for social justice in the age of globalization. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Humphreys D. Logjam: Deforestation and the Crisis of Global Governance, Earthscan, 2009

Jasanoff and Marybeth Long Martello (eds) (2004) Earthly politics: local and global in environmental governance, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. 

Malone, E. (2009) Debating Climate Change: Pathways through Argument to Agreement, London: Earthscan. 

Miller, C. and Edwards, P. (eds) (2001) Changing the atmosphere: expert knowledge and environmental governance. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 

Newell, P. and Paterson, M. (2010) Climate capitalism : global warming and the transformation of the global economy, Cambridge Uni Press. 

O’Neill, K. (2009) The environment and international relations, Cambridge Uni Press. 

Young, O R 1997 (ed) Global governance: drawing insights from the environmental experience, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.


Exam (80%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (20%, 1500 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2009/10 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 12.1
Merit 71.6
Pass 15.5
Fail 0.9

Teachers' comment

DV415 was taught by the same lecturer and class teacher in 2012-13

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2012/13: 36

Average class size 2012/13: 12

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2010/11 - 2012/13 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 88.4%



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