NIGK23004U Environment, Society and Development in the Global South

Volume 2023/2024

MSc Programme in Environment and Development
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics with a minor subject


This course teaches state-of the art research within the field environment, society, and development with a specific focus on understanding theoretical approaches to development geography and coupled human-environment systems in the Global South. The course provides the theoretical and historical foundations for understanding contemporary sustainability agendas, including approaches to sustainable development.

The content of the course is organized in two themes:

Theme one on development geography focuses on societal transformation processes in urban and rural areas in the Global South. Urbanization and development have been entwined concepts since the early days of development geography. As the current dynamic centers of urbanization have shifted to the Global South, there is a growing scholarly attention to urbanization, its varied impacts on economies, livelihoods and environments and the interconnected transformations of both urban and rural contexts. Rural transformation is concerned with long-term trends and transitions in rural areas, including the socio-economic differentiation of the peasantry and the emergence of capitalist farmers and rural workers. For decades, it has been a key issue in development geography to examine barriers and drivers for these processes. Seminars will outline and discuss how contemporary scholars theorize and explore urbanization and rural transformation processes in the Global South.

Theme two focuses on the dynamics of coupled human–environmental systems and the multiple conceptual models that have been proposed to understand this complex relationship. These include cultural, human and political ecology, land use intensification, land system science, sustainability science, resilience and vulnerability approaches. All of these have attempted to include environmental and social factors and feedbacks at different levels of spatial and temporal scales as well as identifying driving forces of change. The seminars will discuss approaches that relate to interactions between the human and environmental spheres.

Learning Outcome


  • Theoretical approaches to development geography, including original and current theories on urbanization and rural transformation processes at different geographical scales.

  • Theoretical approaches to human-environment interactions, including human and political ecology, sustainability, land-use intensification, carrying capacity, and resilience.


  • read, evaluate and analyze theoretical literature

  • use scientific definitions and terms

  • give short, concise and well-illustrated oral presentations on the basis of scientific papers

  • write a short, concise essay critically examining and comparing theoretical positions


  • critically discuss theoretical approaches to complex geographical problems within development geography and human-environment interactions

  • reflect on own geographical skills in relation to other disciplines

Please see Absalon course page.

BSc programme in Geography and Geoinformatics or equivalent is recommended.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The form of teaching is theory exercises combined with ad hoc lectures. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 171
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • Total
  • 206
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, Ongoing preparation throughout the course
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Type of assessment details
The written assignment is prepared during the course and must be handed in prior to the exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship

Resubmission of written assignment, handed in prior to the re-examination week.

Twenty minutes oral examination without preperation. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.