NIGK17008U Environment, Society and Development

Volume 2021/2022

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 two topics: 1) Urbanization, modernization and development that have been entwined concepts of development studies and development geography, since the early days of these scholarships. Seminars will outline and discuss how contemporary urban scholars are theorizing and exploring urbanization in the global south. 2) The so-called ‘Agrarian Question’ that deals with 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 studies to examine barriers and drivers for these processes. The seminars will discuss the concept and elaborate its use and alternative approaches.

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 background for development geography, including modernization theory, dependency theory, and post-development critique.

  • 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


  • identify and apply theoretical approaches to solving complex geographical problems in 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
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

Identical to ordinary exam.

The student has the following options:

Is the quality of the written assignment not acceptable, the student can choose to either hand in a new or revised report.

Is the quality of the written assignment acceptable, the student can choose to either hand in a revised report or resubmit the original report from the ordinary exam.

The written assignment must be handed in prior to the re-examination week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.