Environmental Governance

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Michael Mason STC.510 and Dr Richard Perkins STC.413


This course is compulsory on the BSc in Environment and Development and BSc in Environmental Policy with Economics. This course is available on the BA in Geography and BSc in Geography with Economics. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

This course seeks to explore and critically interrogate the evolving patterns and processes of environmental governance. The course begins by examining recent debates on the changing role of state and non-state actors in environmental governance, and outlines different explanations for market actors’ growing engagement with environmental sustainability. The next part focuses on the role of financial and corporate actors in environmental governance, outlining the motives, practices and outcomes of sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Lent Term provision examines the issues, actors and processes that shape environmental governance at the transnational and global scales. Introductory lectures on the global environmental policy process introduce different scholarly perspectives informing current research (e.g. regime analysis, critical political economy and constructivism): these perspectives are referred to as subsequent lectures address particular actor groups and issues (e.g. sustainable energy transitions, climate security). Students are encouraged to think critically about the ways in which the regulation of global environmental risk is framed and politically contested.


15 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 9 hours of classes in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce a minimum of three 1,500 word formative essays/projects during the year.

Indicative reading

Adger, W.N. and A. Jordan (eds) (2009) Governing sustainability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Biermann, F. (2014) Earth system governance: World politics in the Anthropocene, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Blowfield, M. and A. Murray (2014) Corporate responsibility: A critical introduction, 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Carter, N. (2007) The politics of the environment: Ideas, activism and policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Evans, J.P. (2012) Environmental governance. London: Routledge.

Gupta, A. and M, Mason (eds) (2014) Transparency in global environmental governance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

O'Neill, K. (2009) The environment and international relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Exam (75%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
First 41
2:1 48.6
2:2 9.5
Third 0
Fail 1

Key facts

Department: Geography & Environment

Total students 2016/17: 43

Average class size 2016/17: 16

Capped 2016/17: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

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

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 47%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)