DV415      Half Unit
Global Environmental Governance

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Kathryn Hochstetler


This course is available on the MSc in Accounting, Organisations and Institutions, MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Management (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Economic Policy for International Development, MSc in Environment and Development, MSc in Environmental Policy and Regulation, MSc in Environmental Policy, Technology and Health (Environmental Policy and Regulation) (LSE and Peking University), MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in International Relations (Research), MSc in Political Economy of Late Development, MSc in Political Science (Global Politics), MSc in Public Administration and Government (LSE and Peking University), MSc in Public Policy and Administration and MSc in Regulation. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Students will be allocated places to courses with priority to ID and joint-degree students.  If there are more ID and joint-degree students than the course can accommodate, these spots will be allocated randomly.  

Non-ID/Joint Degree students will be allocated to spare places by random selection with the preference given first to those degrees where the regulations permit this option.

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 summarise 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 evolution of environmental policy regimes at multiple scales and with multiple actors. The guiding empirical focus is on the roles of developing countries in global environmental governance and the effects of environmental policy regimes on their development strategies and outcomes. Some of this draws upon debates within International Relations, but this course also considers other theoretical literatures about environmental politics. Only part of global environmental governance takes place in formal spheres specifically devoted to environmental topics. Thus, while about half the course focuses on global efforts to solve environmental problems, especially in international negotiations, the other half examines economic institutions like trade and financial institutions and their intersections with environment and development concerns. Non-state actors including business actors and civil society actors are also considered. Finally, while the course has a global focus, the environmental politics within nation-states is increasingly important for global outcomes and is considered here.

To make the course focused, it considers primarily climate change, biodiversity and forests, and human movement in response to environmental change.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars in the WT. Seminars will be at or upwards of 45 minutes duration and lectures will be at or above 60 minutes duration.

Student on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

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

Indicative reading

A detailed reading list will be presented at the beginning of the term. There is no single textbook for this course, but we recommend the following as a basic background reading list:

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


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


Ciplet, D., J.T. Roberts, and M.R. Khan. 2015. Power in a Warming World: The New Global Politics of Climate Change and the Remaking of Environmental Inequality. MIT Press.


Kopiński, D. and Q. Sun. 2014. New Friends, Old Friends? The World Bank and Africa When the Chinese Are Coming. Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations 20(4): 601-623.


Najam, A. 2005. Developing Countries and Global Environmental Governance: From Contestation to Participation to Engagement. International Environmental Agreements 5: 303-321.


Newell, P. and J.T. Roberts (eds). 2016. The Globalization and Environment Reader. Wiley.


Neilson, T.D. 2014. The Role of Discourses in Governing Forests to Combat Climate Change. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 14(3): 265-280.


Raustiala, K. and D. Victor. 2004. The Regime Complex for Plant Genetic Resources. International Organization 58(2): 277-309.


Warner, K. 2018. Coordinated Approaches to Large-scale Movements of People: Contributions of the Paris Agreement and the Global Compacts for Migration and on Refugees. Populations and Environment 39(4): 384-401.


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

2 questions of 2000 words each.

Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 17.6
Merit 66
Pass 16
Fail 0.5

Teachers' comment

This course considers the politics of making environmental policy 'global' in relation to climate change, bio-diversity, and forests. Because its focus is on global negotiations and institutions (political and economic), it can be taken in addition to DV413.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2022/23: 88

Average class size 2022/23: 14

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

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