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The Environment and Global Capitalism


Admission requirements

This course is available for students of the MA International Relations - Global Political Economy.

Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact the co-ordinator of studies.


This course examines the environment in the global political economy. It will focus on two main perspectives. Firstly, it focuses on the manner that environmental resources have played a central role in the capitalist system. In addition to their socio-political character, phases in the history of capitalism, such as colonialism, should also be understood as ecological regimes. Capital accumulation and growth have depended on the commodification of the environment, which has undergone radical transformation and reorganization as result. Secondly, the course will examine the politics of the environment and the determination of governance within the global economy. It will critically examine policies on environmental crises such as climate change, habitat destruction and sustainable growth. The course will examine these issues through a critical framework that comprises literature on political economy, development and political ecology.

Course objectives

  • Develop a conceptual framework that reveals the centrality of the ecology in the capitalist system.

  • Understand the history of the environment in the global economy.

  • Develop a critical response to normative approaches to environmental issues.

  • Discuss debates on sustainable development.

  • Gain in-depth knowledge of specific environmental issues in the global economy such as food security and the climate crisis.

  • Discuss potential future scenarios.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Lectures: (12 x 2hours – attendance is compulsory) = 24 hours
Reading and preparation: 126 hours
Assignments: 130 hours
TOTAL: (10ECs): 280 hrs

Assessment method

Class participation: 15%
Class exercise: 20%
5000 word essay: 65%

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list



Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website


Christian Henderson