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Master Environmental Politics

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  • Objectives
    The aim of the MA/MRes Environmental Politics is to provide graduates with an intensive period of study in which to learn about environmental politics in a systematic, disciplined and critical manner. The main core module introduces five key fields of political inquiry in relation to the environment. It looks at: green political theory; the political sociology of the environment; the environment and public policy; environment and political economy; and international environmental politics. The course also prepares students for research – both research that they may do for their dissertation, but also research that they may undertake in their future academic or professional work. The optional modules and the dissertation give students a broad scope in which to pursue topics of their own choosing.
  • Entry requirements
    Prospective students are expected to have a good honours degree in a social science subject, and a demonstrated interest in environmental politics.
  • Academic Title
    MA, MRes Environmental Politics
  • Course description
    Full-Time & Part-Time study


    This unique one-year programme is hosted by the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy (SPIRE). The course has run for over 10 years and is taught by some of the most prominent figures in the field. The MA/MRes Environmental Politics is designed for those graduates who wish to explore the wide range of political questions thrown up by environmental problems. Institutionally, how do political and economic structures respond to environmental problems, and how might they be improved? Conceptually, how have different theorists conceived the environmental problematic; and what do the various ideologies and ethics of environmental politics have to offer? Sociologically, what drives the politics of environmental movements, and how do social and economic divisions both reflect and create environmental problems?

    Internationally, how do environmental politics work in different countries and in the international arena? Politically, how is environmental policy made, and what are the obstacles to be overcome and the opportunities to be grasped? The course is intended to enable students to proceed to research degrees, or to follow a range of professional careers in which graduate study in Environmental Politics is advantageous, such as business, civil service, local government, work with non-governmental organisations, or education.

    Course Structure and Content

    Taught Masters programmes require satisfactory completion of at least 180 credits, made up of 6 taught modules each of 20 credits (120 credits) plus a 15,000 word dissertation (60 credits). The MA and MRes programmes differ in that the MA programme contains more substantive subject modules and less research training, while the MRes programme contains more research training, as preparation directly for a research career or for undertaking a research degree such as a PhD. Details of the two programmes are as follows:

    Course Modules


    • Dimensions of Environmental Politics
    • Research Training in Politics and International Relations and the Environment
    • Four optional modules chosen from the list below
    • 15,000 word dissertation on an approved topic in Environmental Politics


    • Research Skills
    • Quantitative Data Analysis I (basic)
    • Qualitative Data Analysis
    • Research Design and Process
    • Dimensions of Environmental Politics
    • One other subject-specific module
    • 15,000 word dissertation on an approved topic in Environmental Politics


    Optional modules can be drawn from modules such as those listed below, although the precise list of available modules may vary from year to year.

    • The EU and the Global Commons
    • Environmental Diplomacy
    • Green Political Theory
    • Green Parties and Movements
    • Nature, Politics and Society
    • Wilderness and Civilisation
    • Environment and Development in the Global South
    • United States Environmental Policy-Making
    • Ecological Economics
    • Feminist Perspectives on Environmental Politics
    • Ethics and Consumerism


    Each module has its own methods of assessment, based on a combination of coursework and written examinations, with some assessment of tutorial performance. Students demonstrating an outstanding level of work will receive their degree with distinction.


    SPIRE offers bursaries to some postgraduate students. Details are available on SPIRE’s website or you can contact SPIRE directly. The MRes course has ESRC 1+3 recognition for students intending to continue with study for a PhD after successful completion of their MRes programme.

    Intending applicants should contact the School for details.

    Staff and Research Interests

    Professor Chris Bailey – environmental policy-making in the USA.
    Professor Andrew Dobson – environmental political theory.
    Dr Brian Doherty – politics of social movements; green parties; ideologies of radical social movements.
    Professor Tim Doyle – environmental politics and social movements.
    Dr Rebecca Leach – ethics and consumerism.
    Dr Sherilyn MacGregor – environmental political theory feminism.
    Sir Jonathon Porritt (Visiting Fellow) – inside the environmental policy process.
    Dr Steve Quilley – ethics of land use, wildlife habitats, risk.
    Professor David Schlosberg (Visiting Fellow) – environmental justice and internet campaigning and activism.
    Mr David Scrivener – international environmental co-operation and control.
    Professor John Vogler – governance of the global commons, EU external relations.

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