SGO4301 – Global Environmental Change

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

We are now living in what some are calling the Anthropocene Era, where human activities are transforming the Earth System and contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, ozone depletion, land cover changes, and changes to the global water system. How do people perceive and understand these changes, and what are the options for responses? Can we adapt to change? Can we transform society towards a more sustainable future? Who decides what type of world we will live in? How do we change entrenched systems when powerful interests are threatened? What role do beliefs, values, and worldviews play in all of this? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this course. A variety of theoretical frameworks and approaches to understanding environmental change will be discussed. These theories will be practically applied in a course project and a course paper that aim to give students experience with transformative responses to global environmental change.

Students will gain a greater awareness of the opportunities for social scientists to contribute to research and policy debates on global environmental change, and they will develop their understandings of the challenges and possibilities associated with transformative change.

Learning outcome


  • Explain and provide examples of different frameworks and approaches to understanding global environmental change;
  • Recognize the linkages between different responses to global environmental problems and the underlying frameworks that promote them;
  • Understand both the need for and challenges to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to complex global problems;
  • Be able to identify how worldviews, values and beliefs influence the construction of knowledge and the hegemony of current responses to environmental and social problems.


  • Critically read and discuss articles on environmental change, recognizing the importance of different discourses and approaches;
  • Link theory and practice through a hands-on project;
  • Develop skills for oral and written presentation of knowledge and competencies.


  • Ability to explain linkages between diverse social and environmental problems.
  • Capacity to understand complex issues from multiple perspectives.
  • Improved capacity for self-reflection and self-awareness.
  • Understanding of how to engage with global environmental change issues from a more empowered perspective.


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.

This course is a part of the Master's program in Human Geography.

Students in other master programs may apply to be accepted as guest students. Please note that the following special restrictions apply:

  • applicant must be admitted to a master program.
  • this course will be taken as a part of their Master's degree. A confirmation from the students student adviser must be attached to the application.
  • there are available places in this course.

Applications must be sent the department by 26 August 2013.

If you already have completed our Master's programme in Human Geography and want to take additional master courses, please read this: Hospitanter ved ISS.


Recommended previous knowledge


The course will be organized as weekly lectures and discussions, as well as four project-related seminars. Participation in the course is mandatory.

This course is taught at the University of Oslo, Blindern campus. Other locations in Oslo may be used.

The lectures are given in English.

Teaching takes place throughout the semester, as outlined in the course plan.

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.


Short “self-reflection” paper and term paper.

Assessment is based on a short “self-reflection” paper (approx. 7,5 pages) on personal change, and a term paper (approx. 12,5 pages) based on a project that students will work on throughout the semester. The short paper counts 25% of final grade whilst the term paper counts 75%.
Course grades are awarded on a descending scale using alphabetic grades from A to E for passes and F for fail.

Both exams must be passed the same semester in order to receive a valid final grade.

When submitting the term paper students are required to submit a compulsory statement regarding plagiarism.

Any take home exam or essay etc. handed in at the University of Oslo may be checked for plagiarism by use of the Ephorus text recognition software.

Language of examination

The students can choose whether they will write the paper in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish.

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.

Examination results are available in StudentWeb three weeks after the date of submission, if no other information is given on the semester page of the current semester.

An external auditor regularly evaluates the academic quality of the course, including the form of exam used on the course.

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 autumn


Every autumn

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