This course is discontinued

SUM4000 – Development and environment: Theory and policy challenges

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In this course we further important themes in the interface between development and environment. We explore important theories and dominating political praxis behind development, and how these mesh with the challenges of sustainable development. We give attention to the relationship between North and South and to the political and commerical sides of development. We explore the role of international development organisations, national governments, non-governmental organisations and multi-national corporations.

In addition to two introductory lectures, the course consists of four sections, each made up of three lectures and one seminar. Each section springs from ongoing research at SUM:

In the section Energy and Climate Change, we describe the driving forces behind human-made climatic change, and take up theoretical and policy approaches to reducing energy use and climate change emissions. We discuss energy production and consumption in the North and the South, and focus especially on the connections and challenges related to development, environment, energy and gender.

In the section Poverty and Development, we question the current status of the development agenda and examine why development has eluded large groups of poor. Further, we assess the different modes of development thinking and intervention that characterize the sensational and the invisble factors of poverty, respectively, in lectures that take up food security, malnutrition, and natural disasters.

In the section Forests and Climate, three lectures, by a political economist, an anthropologist and an ecologist will be concerned with REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries).

In the section Global Health, we consider the historical origins of international collaboration on health, and trace recent changes to the governance of the same. We review diverse frameworks for studying global health policy, and discuss key texts, in order to highlight the tensions between global health policies designed by international organisations and local social and cultural realities.

Learning outcome

What can you expect to take from the course?
- To account for some of the main challenges of sustainable development, including poverty reduction, global distribution of wealth and resources, access to health, increasing consumption and the environmental impacts of development.
- To recognize and critically evaluate the central actors that participate in and influence the directions of global sustainability and development.
- To analyze global change in a perspective which includes power differentials between North and South, and between different social groups.
- To identify and discuss the challenges and dilemmas involved when the goal of sustainable development is to be realized in practice
- To write and present academic texts, discuss problems in class, and comment on the work of peers.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

The Masters study is directed at students with a background in humanities, social sciences or the natural sciences. The minimum requirement for admission is that the students must have a bachelor’s degree (equivalent at least to a good second class honours degree from a reputable university). Students with a natural science background should have at least half a year's studies within the humantities or social sciences to prepare them for the interdisciplinary challenges this programme offers. Students must also have a good working knowledge of English, and should be able to read and follow lectures in this language as well as writing a term paper in English.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with SUM3001 – Development and Environment: Theory and Policy Challenges (discontinued)

Starting from 2011 this course will overlap 10 ECTS with SUM3001. SUM4000 is obligatory for masterstudents at Culture, Environment and Sustainability who have not taken SUM3000 or SUM3001. Students who already have SUM3000 need to register for another course as part of their Master's programme. Contact SUM for more information.


Three lectures per week. One seminar per week. Instruction and teaching is compulsory.
Teaching takes place between weeks 34 and 38.

August to October

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


The exam consists of a 10-12 page individual term paper.

In addition, each student is required to produce a one-page summary of a specified reading (to be included in a compendium of such summaries) and present to the class.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination


Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


Course coordinator: Karen Syse
Programme consultant: Kristin Dypedokk

Facts about this course






This course will no longer be offered


This course will no longer be offered

Teaching language