SUM4019 – Consumption, Sustainability and Social Change

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

This course will address the increasing importance of consumption in everyday life, the ways consumption affect the environment, and both the theories and public policies which address sustainable consumption. The module will examine the practices of every day life across cultures with a view to understanding consumption and its relationship to values, attitudes and social structures. Cases will be used to illustrate the ways in which consumption has become integral parts of both the routines of every day life and in conceptions of the ‘good life’. Cross-cultural differences in consumption will be highlighted, but the point will be made that social structures and physical infrastructures surrounding consumption are firmly anchored. Seen in this way, achieving a sustainable society will constitute a significant social change. The module will take up theoretical debates concerning social change and relate these to how change is theorized in public policy on sustainability.

Learning outcome

  • To critically discuss the increasing importance of consumption in everyday life in countries of both the North and South
  • To interpret and apply the theories of consumption on which sustainable consumption policies are founded
  • To categorize, compare, interpret, and compare new theoretical perspectives on the social, economic and technological contributions to consumption


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.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

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

Please contact Centre for Development and the Environment for more information regarding admission.

A minimum number of registrants is needed in order for the course to run. If 6 or less has registered, the course will be cancelled. If the course is cancelled, you will be notified by email two weeks before the first lecture. 


Formal prerequisite knowledge

The minimum requirement for admission is:

  • a bachelors degree within social sciences, the humanities, or natural sciences. Students with a natural science background should have at least half a year's studies (30 ECST credits) within the humantities or social sciences to prepare them for the interdisciplinary challenges this course offers.
  • passed examination in English foundation course (140 hours/5 periods per week) in Norwegian upper secondary school with a minimum grade of 4 (or an equivalent grade from a Nordic upper secondary school) or alternatively passed examination in English from second and/or third school year, or an internationally recognised English language proficiency test.


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.

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.


2018: Three day home exam.

2017: Course Paper.

2005-2016: Three day home exam.

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


Every spring

Teaching language