• Offered by Crawford School of Public Policy
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Environmental Management & Development
  • Areas of interest Geography, Anthropology, Development Studies, Environmental Studies, Policy Studies
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof John McCarthy
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings

This course is available for on-campus & remote (online) learning. All students participate in interactive, real-time classes.

The need to pursue environmental sustainability, address poverty alleviation and bring about social justice leads to calls for ambitious societal transformations. Few aspects of knowledge for sustainability are more crucial than those concerning the strategies and processes required to drive required change. This course equips students with the skills and expertise to conceptualise and evaluate reform strategies promoting socio-environmental transformations. It introduces students to different conceptualisations of transformation – social-ecological, structural and enabling frameworks – and outlines practical principles for effective research and action towards sustainability. Students learn to connect critical conceptual (theoretical) readings with practical examples, explore how environmental issues arise in different contexts, and consider openings for intervention through cases where these approaches are applied. Students also explore particular environmental problems in small groups and develop an analysis of a specific problem of their choosing, assessing opportunities and constraints facing different strategies to address the issue. In each section of the course, students will consider the advantages and disadvantages of each conceptual approach to transformations, considering how the approaches might be combined to drive socio-environmental transformations.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Explain critical theoretical social science frameworks for examining environmental and development issues. 
  2. Compare and assess the comparative value and usefulness of different conceptual approaches from policy sciences, political ecology, socio-ecological systems and other knowledge areas for understanding critical socio-environmental issues.
  3. Use critical theoretical and applied approaches as an analytical lens to interpret and draw insights from socio-environmental change and its ramifications.
  4. Be able to convincingly define a socio-environmental problem, investigate a range of possible alternative solutions to that problem, and construct a persuasive argument about the best approach to addressing that problem, drawing on relevant scholarly literature on the topic
  5. Develop the skills to do this effectively, working with other students in analysing issues, producing a well-written report on it and successfully communicating this work to an audience of students in an oral presentation.
  6. Employ these frameworks, combining these conceptual models to evaluate reform strategies for socio-environmental transformation.

Other Information

This course is based on research and policy related work that entails using key, critical social science practices to analyse environment and development problems and natural resource policy. In a similar fashion to a policy analyst, a student needs to apply these frameworks to analyse particular environmental issues and to evaluate

interventions to deal with them.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Reading Brief (min 200 wds x 8) (10) [LO 1,2]
  2. Survey Essay (1500 wds) (30) [LO 1,2]
  3. Work in progress presentation (0) [LO 1,2,3,5]
  4. Case study essay (2000 wds) (60) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]

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 standard workload for a 6 unit course is 130 hours including class time and independent study.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Prescribed Texts

Robbins, P. (2020) Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction (Wiley-Blackwell, third edition)

link to ebook https://library.anu.edu.au/record=b2226337

Benjaminsen, T and H Svarstad (2021) Political Ecology: A Critical Engagement with Global Environmental Issues

Preliminary Reading

Ely, A (2022) Transformative Pathways to Sustainability Learning Across Disciplines, Cultures and Contexts Earthscan

Tor A. Benjaminsen, Hanne Svarstad (2021) Political Ecology: A Critical Engagement with Global Environmental Issues, Palgrave Macmillan

Bryant, R.L. (2015) The international handbook of political ecology. Edward Elgar Publishing. Full text online in library

Perreault, T. G Bridge, & J. McCarthy (eds.) (2015) The Routledge Handbook of Political Ecology. London ; New York, NY, Routledge. Full text online in library

Robbins, P, J Hintz, S.A. Moore (2013) Environment and Society Wiley. (available as ebook from ANU library)

O'Lear, S. 2010. Environmental Politics. Scale and Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Connelly, J. Smith, G., D. Benson and C. Saunders, 2012. Politics and the Environment From Theory to Practice. Oxon: Routledge.

Death, C (ed) (2014) Critical Environmental Politics Routledge ebook available from ANU library


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

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2024 $4680
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
On Campus
7230 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person View
9071 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 Online View

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