SOSGEO4301 – 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.

Some of the questions that will be addressed in this course:

  • 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?

The course will help students to develop a better understanding of social theories and how they influence framings of both problems and solutions, and it will explore the relationship between individual and systemic change. The course will include overview lectures and student-led discussions of readings, as well as five seminars (attendance at 3 of the 5 seminars is compulsory to meet course requirements).

Evaluation will be based on a course project and reflection paper, as well as a course research paper, which together aim to provide students with both experiential and theoretical understandings of drivers and responses to global environmental change. Overall, 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 knowledge on the possibilities and challenges associated with transformative change processes.

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 and Sociology.

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.

If you already have completed our Master's programme in Human Geography and want to take additional master courses, you can find more information here.


Recommended previous knowledge


  • Lectures and seminars.
  • The course will be organized as weekly lectures with discussions, as well as five project-related seminars. Participation in the seminars is mandatory.
  • Approved compulsory attendance is valid until the course is no longer offered.

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.


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 percent of final grade whilst the term paper counts 75 percent.

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

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, 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.

Explanations and appeals

Ask for explanation of your grade in this course:

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

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

Teaching language