SUM4019 – Consumption, Sustainability and Social Change

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content


Unsustainable consumption patterns and the upwards spiraling resource use embedded in these are at the core of the world’s sustainability challenges. And while overconsumption has been on political agendas for quite some time, very little progress—and often also little effort—has been made in dealing with it. This is the starting point of this course, together with an insistence on understanding consumption as a highly complex social phenomenon that involves much more than individuals making choices. The main focus of the course is on studying how consumption plays out in our everyday lives, as well how different social and material structures co-shape consumption patterns. The course presents a variety of social-scientific approaches to consumption, as well as a range of case studies from both affluent societies and ‘emerging economies’.  Possible avenues for changing consumption patterns in a more sustainable direction are discussed throughout the course.

Learning outcome

  • To critically discuss the importance of consumption to global and local sustainability as well as attempts to create more sustainable consumption patterns
  • To interpret the complex set of factors influencing and co-shaping consumption patterns
  • To categorize, interpret, and compare new theoretical perspectives on the social, economic and technological contributions to consumption


You may apply to be a guest student at SUM. Please follow these instructions.


The lectures and seminars will be held intensively over a period of approximately one month, with the exam immediately after the last lecture. The course is part of the regular course offerings at the Centre for Development and the Environment.

This is how you apply for a valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance:

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.


Assessment Guide

2018 - : Three day home exam.

2017: Course Paper.

2005-2016: Three day home exam.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

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

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every spring

The teaching period in spring 2020 is January 27th - March 2nd. 


Every spring

Teaching language