• Class Number 4434
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Rebecca Pearse
    • Dr Rebecca Pearse
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
SELT Survey Results

Environmental sociology examines the complex relationships between people, nature, and the natural environment. It focuses on questions such as: how environmental issues are known, defined and acted upon; why certain environmental issues are largely ignored or denied; the role of institutions and economic systems in shaping relationships with the non-human environment; how different social groups are affected by environmental change and problems; human-animal relations; human conceptions and cultural representations of the natural world; and the role of social movements in promoting environmental reform. While the course covers many topical issues, there is a major focus on what sociology can contribute to understandings of environmental issues and politics and what these, in turn, contribute to sociological knowledge and understanding.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. apply sociological theories and concepts to explain environmental problems;
  2. analyse the implications of environmental change for people, communities, flora and wildlife;
  3. evaluate policy, community and other responses to environmental change;
  4. carry out independent research on specific environmental issues, drawing on sociological perspectives and literature; and
  5. reflect on and discuss their learning in relation to the content of the course.

Whether you are on campus or studying remotely, there are a variety of online platforms you will use to participate in your study program. These could include videos for lectures and other instruction, two-way video conferencing for interactive learning, email and other messaging tools for communication, interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities, print and/or photo/scan for handwritten work and drawings, and home-based assessment.

ANU outlines recommended student system requirements to ensure you are able to participate fully in your learning. Other information is also available about the various Learning Platforms you may use.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction How do sociologists think about society and nature?
2 Just energy transition What is capitalist modernity and can it be sustained?
3 Land rights How has colonialism created property and its others?
4 Gender equality On what basis might we claim environmental change is gendered?
5 Sustainable consumption What power lies in the hands of citizen-consumers?
6 Ecologically rational states What kind of environmental institution is a state?
7 Green economics How do markets work for, and against, sustainability?
8 Biodiversity and abundance How are protected areas constructed and who benefits?
9 Food justice How are animals enrolled in the business of food?
10 The right to water Who should own and control water?
11 Living with disasters What are the social limits and possibilities for adaptation?
12 Hope in action How can we grieve and act in the biocrisis?

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
1 - Essay (40%) 40 % 25/05/2022 1, 2
2. Research essay (50%) 50 % 03/06/2022 1, 2, 3
3 - Participation and class preparation (10%) 10 % * 4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines , which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Integrity Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Skills website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 25/05/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2

1 - Essay (40%)

Due - 5pm Friday 25th March

40% of your overall grade for SOCY2022.

The aim of this assessment is to allow you to explore the meaning of normative concept commonly expressed in environmental politics (just energy transition, land rights, gender equality or sustainable consumption). Your paper should define this concept and critically reflect on its viability and importance to environmental action.

In doing so, you should articulate your view with regard to two different theoretical perspectives covered in classes and the readings (e.g. an indigenous scholar, ecological marxism, ecological modernisation theory, feminist environmentalism).

You should draw on key set readings for weeks 1-5. Demonstrating a close reading and engagement with these texts and the lecture/tutorial materials and discussions is most important element of your assessment. You can also draw on well-chosen additional readings. But the main thing is to show you are engaged with ideas in the classes.

The paper should be 1500 words in length (excluding references), and include concise and carefully argued answers to one of the questions below.

Assessment criteria

1) Thorough analysis that answers the set question;

2) Appropriate and critical use of academic literature;

3) Cogent sequencing of ideas into an overall argument;

4) Clear and succinct written expression;

5) Attention to detail in citation and referencing using Harvard style.


  1. What is a just energy transition? On what basis might it be achieved within capitalist modernity?
  2. What are indigenous land rights and self-determination? What does decolonised environmental protection look like in Australia?
  3. What is gender equality? Is gender equality essential to environmental justice?
  4. What is sustainable consumption? Do citizen-consumers have agency in the global economy?

Assessment Task 2

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 03/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3

2. Research essay (50%)

Due 5pm Friday 3rd June

50% of your overall grade for SOCY2022.

2500 words, excluding references.

The aim of this assessment is to encourage you to read a seminal work in environmental social theory closely and critically. You will write an essay in response to a question posed that is relevant to one of 7 key texts. We'll also be reading excerpts from each of these books in classes. The essay will primarily concern your analysis of the book, but you will be encouraged to connect ideas to readings we have covered in the course or well-chosen additional references. More guidance for this assessment will be given in week 2.



Books (you will choose one to write on; they can all be found online).

Eckersley, Robyn (2004), The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty, Cambridge: MIT Press.

Raworth, Kate (2017), Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, London: Penguin.

Parreñas, Juno Salazar (2018), Decolonizing Extinction: The Work of Care in Orangutan Rehabilitation, Durham: Duke University Press.

Wadiwel, Dinesh (2015) The War Against Animals, Leiden; Brill.

Patel, Raj (2008), Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System, New York: Melville House.

Bakker, Karen (2010), Privatizing Water: Governance Failure and the World's Urban Water Crisis, New York: Cornell University Press.

Parenti, Christian (2011), Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, New York: Nation Books.

Assessment criteria

1) Breadth and depth of reading evident;

2) Focus in response to the essay question;

3) Appropriate and critical use of academic literature and evidence;

4) Demonstrated ability to build a well substantiated argument;

5) Clarity of written expression;

6) A logical and coherent approach to the essay structure;

7) Attention to detail in citation and references using Harvard style.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 4

3 - Participation and class preparation (10%)

10% of your overall grade for SOCY2022.

The aim of this assessment is to encourage your preparation and participation in class discussions. You'll gain full marks for this assessment through submission of tutorial reading notes before at least five classes (5 marks) and routine contribution to class discussion during most weeks (5 marks).

Assessment criteria

1) Appropriate and critical use of academic literature;

2) Demonstrated ability to unpack and interrogate theory and evidence;

3) Demonstrated reactive thinking in response to class discussion;

4) Clear and succinct written expression.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Rebecca Pearse

Research Interests

Climate and energy policy; rural environmental change; inequalities and green markets.

Dr Rebecca Pearse

By Appointment
Dr Rebecca Pearse

Research Interests

Dr Rebecca Pearse

By Appointment

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