STV4341 – Comparative Environmental Politics

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Course content

Environmental problems are reaching such large scale that they are affecting human wellbeing and threatening the very human survival. In order to fix environmental problems, individual action is insufficient and we need political interventions. Understanding which governments succeed in securing environmental protection can help us design policy interventions necessary to tackle environmental problems. In this course, we will discuss why countries respond to environmental problems differently. First, we will talk about the nature of environmental problems and challenges associated with commitments to solve environmental problems. Second, we will discuss collective action theory and how to use it to analyze current small- and large-scale environmental problems. We will delve into the role of the state in tackling collective action problems and cover the basics of environmental policy-making. Third, we will talk about different political institutions and discuss their advantages and disadvantages in addressing environmental problems. Among these institutions, we will discuss regime type, comparing democratic and authoritarian responses to environmental problems, bureaucratic quality, corruption, rule of law, and state-society relations. Fourth, we will analyze the role of public support in environmental policy-making and drivers of public support, including individual and external factors.

Learning outcome


After the successful completion of the course students will:

  • Have an in-depth knowledge about and understanding of various conceptualizations of environmental problems
  • Have an in-depth understanding of and be able to explain collective action theory and social dilemmas and their implications for environmental problems
  • Have a solid understanding of  the role of the state in environmental governance and the environmental policy-making process
  • Have a solid understanding of the challenges that environmental problems pose for democratic governments
  • Have an in-depth understanding of how political institutions shape countries’ responses to environmental problems, including regime type, quality of government, state-society relations, people’s values, and public support for environmental policies
  • Know of main data sources on environmental policies, environmental outcomes, and environmental values for an independent empirical analysis


The students will be able to:

  • Critically assess political institutions as sources of and potential solutions to environmental problems
  • Apply collective action theory to analyze various small-scale and large-scale environmental problems
  • Use institutional theories to compare and analyze real-world examples of different national responses to environmental problems
  • Conduct an independent empirical study using comparative research methods
  • Communicate academic knowledge in writing and orally


The students will be able to:

  • Apply comparative politics theories to a specific policy problem
  • Apply scientific theories to an empirical analysis of real-world cases
  • Apply comparative methods to conduct empirical research
  • Engage in a debate and be able to articulate an informed opinion on a heated topic
  • Provide constructive feedback to the work of peers
  • Engage in dissemination of empirical research


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.

Apply for guest student status if you are admitted to another Master's programme.


Recommended previous knowledge

Bachelor degree in political science or equivalent.


Lectures and compulsory activities

Compulsory activities

  • One-page memo (preparation for the discussion seminar)
  • Discussion seminar
  • Online discussion on “skisse”

The course is taught in English, and the papers handed in must be written in English.

See guidelines for compulsory acitivities.


Absence from compulsory activities

If you are ill or have another valid reason for being absent from compulsory activities, your absence need to be approved and you will need to submit a complementary assignment.


Term paper and an oral presentation.

The term paper:

The oral presentation will be held in a seminar after the submission of the term paper. 

You must pass the compulsory activities in order to be eligible to take the exam. 

    Examination in Inspera

    Due to the situation with the coronavirus, the written school exam is changed to a home examination in Inspera. 

    You will need to familiarize yourself with the digital examination arrangements in Inspera. 

    Read more about examinations in Inspera.

    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

    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.

    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

    Spring 2022

    This course is not given on a regular basis

    Spring 2022

    This course is not given on a regular basis

    Teaching language