NIFK20006U Practising Interdisciplinarity

Volume 2021/2022

MSc Programme in Environment and Development


Human development and the environment are connected in innumerable ways. The purpose of this course is to (i) give students a well-grounded understanding of the key theoretical, conceptual and practical debates and issues within the agriculture/environment-development field, and (ii) allow them to practice interdisciplinarity through active participation in discussions and group work on important development questions.

We introduce students to tools and frameworks which can be used to think and generate knowledge across disciplines.

In order to use the tools and frameworks introduced, we explore important development questions such as (i) what are the reasons for hunger and famines?; (ii) how does globalization affect access to resources and social dynamics; (iii) how does gender inequality intersect with development?Sessions will be devoted to epistemological reflections for each of the themes.

This interdisciplinary course is mandatory and fundamental for the MSc Programme in Environment and Development and touches upon topics which are relevant to both specializations (Agriculture and Ecology, and Livelihoods and Governance). It places particular focus on countries in the Global South. 

Learning Outcome

After completing the course the students should be able to:


  • Understand the relationship between theory and practice in a ‘development’ context;
  • Be acquainted with current theoretical debates on agriculture/​​environment-development issues;
  • Explore the intersections of economic growth, social development and environmental conservation;



  • Critique and comment on scholarship on development and its contemporary practices;
  • Evaluate and differentiate approaches to agriculture/​​environment-development questions from a variety of perspectives;
  • Analyze the value and validity of data in the academic and policy literature;
  • Explore and challenge own disciplinary boundaries by cooperating with fellow students on solving problems using different methodological approaches to the agriculture/​​environment-development field.



Towards the end of the course, students should be able to critically reflect on and discuss approaches to key development questions in the agriculture/​​environment-development field. Students should be able to reflect on the benefits and challenges related to practicing interdisciplinarity.

The course curriculum consists of state-of-the-art book chapters, journal articles and reports within the areas of the course that will be made available during the course.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The course makes limited use of traditional lectures. The key teaching and learning activities are group discussions and exercises, student presentations, and written assignments. The learning activities draw on scientific articles and book chapters, but also on other media, such as grey literature and film documentaries.

The indicated readings for each week must be read prior to class in order to achieve the intended learning outcomes. Students who are unable to meet this requirement should not enroll in the course.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Class Instruction
  • 10
  • Preparation
  • 88
  • Practical exercises
  • 16
  • Excursions
  • 22
  • Exam
  • 30
  • Total
  • 206
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
The exam is a 2000 words essay which needs to be submitted by the end of the course. Students will start working on the essay from the beginning of the course and there will be weekly opportunities for asking questions and getting feedback.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Re-examination will be a 2000-word essay and an oral defense of the essay. Students will get 24 hours to write the essay and the oral defense will last 20 minutes, no preparation time.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.