Module Catalogue 2019/20

POL3118 : Environmental Governance and Policy (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Katharine Rietig
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This semester 1 third-year undergraduate module introduces students to the actors, institutions and decision-making mechanisms that address the effects of environmental degradation and climate change on both the national and international level.

Key aims are:

-       Deepening student’s knowledge about major environmental challenges that affect countries such as climate change, ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity, air and water pollution with negative effects on health, economic prosperity and societal cohesion
-       Examining the governance structures for addressing environmental challenges such as political decision-making mechanisms (decision-making on the national, regional and international level), agency by state- and non-state actors (environmental non-governmental organisations and other civil society actors, multinational companies, cities and regions)
-       Increasing awareness of underpinning theories and theoretical frameworks from public policy
-       Analysing how actors can influence the policymaking process towards achieving outcomes
-       Develop a deeper understanding of the policy-related opportunities, challenges and limitations of environmental governance with regards to combining environmental protection and economic growth

Outline Of Syllabus

The module provides a comprehensive overview of environmental governance and the options of addressing environmental challenges via public policy. It focuses on governance dynamics in the interconnected areas of environmental, energy and climate change challenges facing countries around the world, both in the Global North and in the Global South. It will analyse the theoretical underpinnings of environmental governance, the origins and dynamics of policymaking across the national, European and international levels, the shift from government to governance in the use of regulatory instruments and especially the roles of and interplay between central actors such as national governments, parliaments, International Organisations such as the United Nations and the European Union (European Commission, European Parliament and Council), but also non-state actors such as lobbyists, NGOs and civil society. It offers an overview of both decision-making and policies on the national level (e.g. environmental regulation, market-based mechanisms, voluntary agreements with the private sector, integration of environmental objectives into other sectoral policies) and on the international level (e.g. negotiations within the United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change, Biological Diversity and Desertification, the activities of the UN Environment Programme), as well as the multilevel governance elements linking the national and international governance levels. The module thus allows students to gain a deeper understanding of the interdependence between environmental governance on the national level and the global level, which are inseparable and need to coordinate their efforts to effectively address central challenges of the 21st century.

The module will be delivered via weekly two-hour lectures and one-hour seminars, which contain student presentations.

Part 1:
Introduction to environmental challenges and their interconnectedness to economic development, human health and migration, overview of central public policy and international relations theories/ theoretical frameworks to analyse environmental challenges, analysis of key actors (state- and non-state actors)

Part 2: Environmental governance and policy on the national level: the policymaking process, regulatory instruments (command and control regulation, market-based instruments, voluntary agreements with the private sector) and environmental policy integration

Part 3:
Global environmental governance: decision-making on the international level to address global environmental challenges such as climate change, ozone depletion and loss of biodiversity within the United Nations, interdependence with national interests and the need for implementation on the national level, low carbon economic development and green growth (combining environmental protection with economic development)

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

-       Develop an appreciation of the opportunities and challenges linked to policymaking on the national level and decision-making in intergovernmental negotiations with regards to addressing environmental challenges, especially climate change
-       Knowledge of key theories explaining the influence of actors, internal and external factors to address environmental challenges
-       Understanding of the interdependence between policymaking by national governments and the dynamics of global environmental governance (e.g. in International Organizations) and transnational governance
-       Knowledge of recent advances in linking environmental protection to economic development in the transformation to green growth and low carbon economic development by using clean technologies and developing novel business models

Intended Skill Outcomes

-       Advanced research skills
-       Critical analysis skills
-       Public speaking skills

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1164:00164:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical13:003:001 NCL based Decision-Making Simulation (e.g. Model United Nations, simulation of national government
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching91:009:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures allow students to gain an overview of key issues and debates surrounding environmental governance and policy. In the seminars, they will further discuss these issues based on reading academic sources. Each seminar will contain presentations by students further deepening the lecture topic with empirical examples.

The presentations in the seminars and the decision-making simulation allows students to develop advanced public speaking skills and build a high level of confidence to speak about environmental governance issues to a large audience. In the self-contained 3-hour simulation students will be representing the political position of a foreign country, government department or non-state actors such as a company, NGO, expert or International Organization secretariat. Students will improve their understanding of actors’ political interests and how these relate to other stakeholders’ interests, thus developing an appreciation for the relationship between politics and governance, as well as improve problem-solving skills to arrive at policy outcomes. To prepare their speeches and convey their actors’ political interests, students will use and improve their research and critical analysis skills to find, synthesise, evaluate and apply complex information. Students will understand the necessity, opportunities, challenges and limitations of cooperation and collaboration in national-level policymaking and international decision-making.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M702500 word essay
Prof skill assessmnt1M10Seminar participation (7%) and performance in simulation (3%)
Report1M20Individual presentation of 8 minutes per student, the mark takes into account the quality of the oral presentation and the content
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment is constructively aligned with the learning outcomes and teaching activities.
Students provide a presentation to the class on a chosen topic to strengthen their knowledge on environmental governance and policy as foundation for the essay assessment. Participation in the seminars and simulation is assessed and thus rewarded, as the module requires active participation and good preparation to achieve the learning outcomes.

Students write a 2500 word essay to further develop their research skills and gain a better understanding of issues relating to environmental governance and policy, such as the extent to which economic and environmental goals can be reconciled, the effectiveness of environmental governance, the interconnectedness between policymaking on the national level and global environmental governance, or how environmental objectives can be integrated into other policy fields such as energy, security, economic and financial governance. The essay requires students to reflect on and synthesise their learning experience over the semester by connecting theories and empirical examples to critically evaluate aspects of environmental governance and policy.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.