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Course content

This course focuses on human-environment relationships and their implications for nature and society.  The issue of climate change will be a focal point for examining the drivers and consequences of environmental change, including relationships to processes such as globalization, urbanization, and land use changes. Scientific concepts, such as the “Anthropocene,” which are increasingly used to describe the nature and extent of contemporary environmental challenges, will be explored from a social science perspective. Other topics such as consumption, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, impacts, vulnerability, resilience, adaptation and mitigation will be presented and related to the broader debates about transitions and transformations to sustainability.

The lectures, readings and seminars will explore how environmental discourses influence understandings and responses to contemporary environmental problems, including the role of beliefs, values, and worldviews in shaping the rules, norms, institutions, policies and power relationships, which can either promote or constrain practical responses to environmental challenges. Students will actively engage with debates on and experiments with individual and collective change, and explore what alternative approaches and paradigms have to offer.

Learning outcome


  • Understand key concepts and theories about environmental problems, including vulnerability, resilience, adaptation and human security;
  • Explain the role that discourses play in framing problems and solutions;
  • Recognize different perspectives and approaches to environmental problems, and how these influence research, policy and action;
  • Understand the key issues related to individual environmental problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, etc.;
  • Understand the links between globalizaton and environmental change, and recognize how multiple processes (e.g., economic change, urbanization, epidemics, etc.) intersect and interact;
  • Explain how environmental problems are linked to development and understandings of human-environment relationships and society-technology dynamics;
  • Understand how contributions from the social sciences can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of environmental problems and solutions.

Skills and Competence

  • Discuss and debate articles and text on environmental issues;
  • Recognize how different discourses are represented in media coverage of environmental issues.
  • Write an academic text with references that addresses a particular question related to environment and society;
  • Reflect and comment on the assignments of other students;
  • Present and defend viewpoints among a group of students.


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

No obligatory prerequisites beyond the minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway.

Recommended previous knowledge

Overlapping courses


Seminars and lectures.

Compulsory instruction and coursework

  • Write a reflection paper based on a self-identified sustainability challenge, drawing on course material.
  • Attending the first seminar. Here, the purpose and structure of the challenge and the requirements for the reflection paper are discussed
  • Subsequent seminar sessions are voluntary but attendance is highly recommended.

It is required of the student that he/she writes a reflection paper based on a self-identified sustainability challenge, drawing on course material. The purpose and structure of the challenge and the requirements for the reflection paper are discussed at the first seminar and students must therefore be present in their assigned seminar group for this seminar. Subsequent seminar sessions are voluntary but attendance is highly recommended.

Completed and approved compulsory course work is valid until the course is no longer offered. Students who have failed to complete the compulsory course work cannot take the exam.

General information

  • This course will be taught at The University of Oslo, Blindern campus. Other location in Oslo may be used. The e-learning tool Canvas will normally be used.
  • The teaching is organized as lectures and seminars, which will be given in English. The course is part of the regular course provision at The Faculty of Social Science.
  • Application for change of seminar group
  • Teaching is mainly held during daytime. Teaching is organised as a combination of lectures and seminars throughout the semester.

Absence from compulsory tuition activities

If you are ill or have another valid reason for being absent from compulsory tuition activities, your absence may be approved or the compulsory activity may be postponed.

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 is a 8-day home exam in English. The minimum length of the home exam is 10 pages (excluding references) and maximum 14 pages, using 12 point letter size and a spacing of lines 1 1/2.

The exam question will be available from 10.00 am on the day of the exam and must be submitted at 12.00 pm 8 days later.

Previous exams

Submit assignments in Inspera

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

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.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or 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

    Starting spring 2018


    Every spring

    Starting spring 2018

    Teaching language