• Offered by Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Environmental Management & Development
  • Areas of interest Geography, Anthropology, Development Studies, Environmental Studies, Policy Studies

Pollution and waste now pose significant risks to nature and our built environments, with important consequences for health and well-being. This course examines the causes, implications and governance of environmental pollution and waste. Informed by work on environmental justice, risk, and science and technology studies, the course uses a series of case studies to investigate how we understand pollution and waste in their different forms; individual, societal and intergovernmental responses to pollution and waste; and policy options and their limitations in governing these issues. The case studies will vary from year to year, but will draw on examples from the identified themes of industry, urban environments, legacy pollutants (e.g. mercury), plastics, and pollution emergencies (e.g. oil spills).

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Explain the concepts of pollution and waste from a social science perspective;
  2. Critically contextualise the drivers and differentiated implications of various forms of environmental pollution and waste;
  3. Critically assess policy approaches that are currently used to govern pollution and waste; and
  4. Contribute to the ongoing development of approaches to secure social and environmental well-being in relation to pollution and waste.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Essay (30) [LO 1]
  2. Student presentations (20) [LO 2,3,4]
  3. Case study (50) [LO 2,3,4]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The course will involve up to 3 contact hours each week and a further 7 hours (on average) of reading and assessment either in on-campus or online mode.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable.

Prescribed Texts

no prescribed texts.

Preliminary Reading

Allen, B. L. (2016). "Environmental Justice and Expert Knowledge in the Wake of a Disaster." Social Studies of Science 37(1): 103-110.

Beck, U. (1992). "From Industrial society to risk society: questions of survival, social structure and ecological enlightenment." Theory, Culture & Society 9(1992): 97-123.

Bickerstaff, K. (2004). "Risk perception research: socio-cultural perspectives on the public experience of air pollution." Environ Int 30(6): 827-840.

Doron, A. (2018). Waste of a Nation: Garbage and Growth in India. Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press.

Douglas, M. (2003). Risk and Blame. London and New York, Routledge.

Jasanoff, S. (1998). "The political science of risk perception." Reliability Engineering and System Safety 59(1998): 91-99.

Kasperson, R. E., et al. (1988). "The Social Amplification of Risk: a conceptual framework." Risk Analysis 8(2): 177-187.

Liboiron, M., et al. (2018). "Toxic politics: acting in a permanently polluted world." Social Studies of Science 48(3): 331-349.

McLeod, H., et al. (2000). "The relationship between socio-economic indicators and air pollution in England and Wales: implications

for environmental justice." Regional Environmental Change 1(2): 78-85.

Miranda, M. L., et al. (2011). "Making the environmental justice grade: the relative burden of air pollution exposure in the United States." Int J Environ Res Public Health 8(6): 1755-1771.

Mody, C. M. (2001). "A little dirt never hurt anyone: knowledge-making and contamination in materials science." Social Studies of Science 31(1): 7-36.

Murphy, J., et al. (2016). "Regulatory Standards for Environmental Risks." Social Studies of Science 36(1): 133-160.

Pearce, J. and S. Kingham (2008). "Environmental inequalities in New Zealand: A national study of air pollution and environmental justice." Geoforum 39(2): 980-993.

Assumed Knowledge

Not applicable


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4050
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $5760
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
On Campus
4356 22 Feb 2021 01 Mar 2021 31 Mar 2021 28 May 2021 In Person View
4357 22 Feb 2021 01 Mar 2021 31 Mar 2021 28 May 2021 Online View

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions