LNAK10083U Rural Livelihoods and Natural Resources Governance

Volume 2017/2018

MSc Programme in Agricultural Development
MSc Programme in Forests and Livelihoods (SUTROFOR)
MSc Programme in Sustainable Development in Agriculture (Agris Mundus)
MSc Programme in Agriculture


The course is concerned with rural livelihoods in a developing country context. It is well-suited for students interested in developing quantitative and qualitative competencies in researching and analyzing rural livelihoods and their connections to wider societal and environmental processes. We will have a particular emphasis on, including the linkages between rural livelihoods and natural resources governance.

The focus is on how rural livelihoods are constructed when capital assets are used in activities that generate livelihood outcomes. The focus will be on the five capital asset categories; physical, financial, natural, social and human., with a particular emphasis on natural capital assets. The course will illustrate how external factors affect rural peoples’ access to natural resources and, thereby, their livelihood strategies and outcomes.

In addition to an overview of these subject areas, the course will focus on both quantitative and qualitative tools for understanding and analysing rural livelihoods as well as provide insights on how to critically assess and reflect on academic representations of livelihoods. This will help the student link local issues to wider developmental processes. The course emphasises that students are enabled to reflect critically on the complexity of livelihoods and the methodologies used for understanding these.

Learning Outcome

The aim of the course is to provide participants with a thorough understanding of rural livelihoods in a developing country context and to enable them to critically reflect on methodological and analytical strategies. . 

After completing the course the students should be able to:


  • Ellis’ livelihoods framework’s components

  • Linkages between Ellis’ livelihoods framework components

  • Main criticisms of Ellis’ livelihoods framework

  • New livelihoods perspectives development

  • Global processes and their impingement on livelihood concerns at the local level


Themes of the course will be:

  • Introduction to Ellis’ livelihoods framework

  • The five capitals

  • Activities and livelihood strategies

  • Livelihood diversification

  • Criticism of the livelihoods framework

  • Mediating processes and access

  • Livelihoods dynamics and scale

  • The question of the commons  



  • Apply principles of livelihood analysis

  • Analyse quantitative household-level data with Excel

  • Discuss qualitative approaches to livelihoods,

  • Solve case study problems on different aspects of the livelihoods framework

  • Cooperate with fellow students on solving problems using different methodological approaches to livelihoods



Towards the end of the course, students should be able to critically reflect on and discuss outcomes and processes of rural livelihoods and different methodological and analytical strategies for understanding these.

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

No prior academic qualifications are needed, yet a bit of knowledge of basic micro-economic theory, basic statistical analysis skills as well as social theory will be an advantage.
Blended learning combining e-learning and classroom activities. E-learning is centered on online asynchronous discussions in small groups (up to 8 people). Each week, students will be asked to (i) read the mandatory literature (ii) participate in online asynchronous discussions on a particular topic of relevance for the week’s theme (see themes above); (iii) meet up in class to discuss the reading material and solve livelihoods problems (based on quantitative and qualitative case study data); (iv) write an individual process document.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 24
  • E-Learning
  • 24
  • Exam
  • 30
  • Excursions
  • 4
  • Lectures
  • 12
  • Practical exercises
  • 12
  • Preparation
  • 100
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
The assessment has three components: (i) continuous assessment of participation to online discussions (20% of final mark); (ii) Exam 1 (needs to be submitted at the beginning of December), where students work in a group of 4-5 people on solving 3 problems based on household-level livelihoods data provided. You will start working on Exam 1 from the first week of the course and there will be weekly opportunities for asking questions and getting feedback. This first exam will count for 30% of the final grade and will be handed in individually; (iii) Exam 2 is a 24 hour exam where students will be asked to individually solve a problem using a combination of qualitative and quantitative insights and write a 2000 words paper describing the solution. Exam 2 refers back to both exam 1 and the process document. Exam 2 counts 50% of the final grade and is to be done individually. The grade is to be set as a weighted average of the results from the part-assessments.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
one internal examiner

Re-examination will be an oral exam. The student will draw a question within an area of the curriculum and be examined for up to 30 minutes with no prior preparation.

No aids allowed.

Criteria for exam assesment

See description of 'Learning outcome'