ASTK15352U COURSE: Climate politics from the global to the local level

Volume 2015/2016

Elective in the Specialisation "International Relations, Diplomacy and Conflict Studies"

Bachelorlevel: 10 ECTS
Masterlevel: 7,5 ECTS


One of the biggest political as well as scientific challenges in the world today is anthropogenic global warming.  Climate change has moved to the forefront of the political agenda, and all political leaders have to deal with the issue one way or another. To understand and analyze this new political reality is therefore a natural task for a political scientist. This course therefore sets out to explain what climate politics is. What consequences it has for other policy areas, for the way in which politics is organized, for power relations and for the borders between scientific disciplines (between the natural and social sciences as well as among the social sciences).        

                The course will cover climate politics in terms of the global negotiations in the UN, the role of the EU in the climate negotiations, the climate politics of different nation states, and further to local climate politics and local climate governance, and the role different stakeholders play.

                The course will present a string of theories used to study climate politics. It will question mono-disciplinary approaches, and present the case for cross-disciplinarity. The students will be encouraged to use cross-disciplinary approaches in the study of different cases presented.  

Learning Outcome

After successful completion of the course students should be able to:


  • Describe what climate politics is, and how it unfolds on multiple levels from global to local
  • To account for different theoretical approaches to climate politics
  • To account for how the climate change issue challenges traditional approaches to politics
  • To synthesize and use different theories in the analysis of concrete climate change policies
  • To make such analysis concrete in relation to one or more cases, that the students will work with independently

Critically assess the explanatory value and reach of the theories used, especially in relation to the case(s) worked with. 

The following (parts of) books are all required reading at the course. A number of articles in the final syllabus will supplement them. In order to prepare for the course it is a good idea to have at least the following titles at hand: a) Bulkeley and Newell, b) Connolly, Smith, Benson and Saunders, c) Hajer and d) Hoff and Gausset. The book by Connolly, Smith, Benson and Saunders is the basic text book, and it is a good idea to buy it.


  1. Bulkeley, Harriet and Peter Newell. 2010. Governing Climate Change. Routledge. London and New York. (Introduction and chapters 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6, pp. 1-34, 54-114.)
  2. Connelly, James, Graham Smith, David Benson and Clare Saunders. 2012. Politics and the Environment: From Theory to Practice, 3rd edition. Routledge. New York and London. (Chapters 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 and 10, pp. 13-139 and 245-377.)
  3. Hajer, Maarten A. 1995. The Politics of Environmental Discourse: Ecological Modernization and the Policy Process. Clarendon Press. Oxford. (Introduction and chapters 1, 3 and 6, pp. 1-41, 73-103 and 260-294.)
  4. Hoff, Jens & Gausset, Quentin (eds.) (2015). Community Governance and Citizen Driven Initiatives in Climate change Mitigation. Routledge (in print; available September 2015) (chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9).
  5. Hulme, Mike. 2009. Why We Disagree About Climate Change. Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.
  6.                 (chapters 1, 9 and 10, pp. 1-33. 33, 284-320, 322-364.)
  1. Mol, P.J.Arthur, Sonnenfeld, David, A. & Spaargaren, Gert (eds.) (2009). The Ecological Modernization Reader. Routledge: London & New York. (chapters 1, 2, 6, 9, 11, 14 and 21, pp. 3-14, 17-27, 80-100, 141-155, 190-206, 257-274 and 391-417))
It will be a huge advantage for the participating student to hold a bachelor (BA) degree in a social science discipline. No prior knowledge of climate change politics is required. However, an interest in the field and active participation in class is important.
Professor Jens Hoff is responsible for planning the course and examination of the students. There will be 1-2 external presenters covering certain topics. The teaching concerns global, transnational, national and local perspectives but they will be presented as related and interdependent. Different case study material will be presented, but it will also be possible for the students to select their own case. The case(s) will be the point of departure for the students own work, and shall be presented orally in groups. The case(s) must be analyzed using several of the theories taught at the course. It is also a good idea to structure the exam synopsis around the case.
Teaching will take place once a week; normally a 4-hour session, but there will be 1-2 workshops allowing the students to present their case study, and work intensively with their case
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination
Oral examination
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Criteria for exam assesment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner