CPT832: Theories and Principles of Sustainable Development

School Cardiff School of Geography and Planning
Department Code GEOPL
Module Code CPT832
External Subject Code K450
Number of Credits 20
Level L7
Language of Delivery English
Module Leader
Academic Year null

How the module will be assessed

There will be two summative assessments, and this will be supported by weekly formative assessment involving the analysis of key readings.

How the module will be delivered

The module will be delivered by a combination of:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Directed reading

Lectures and seminars are supplemented by Powerpoint presentations (slides will be available in Learning Central) and handouts. Key readings used in teaching sessions will also be available in Learning Central before the session in which they are to be discussed. During seminars you may be required to lead or contribute to a debate/discussion.

Outline Description of Module

This module provides a theoretical base from which to analyse sustainable development. It examines different theoretical and practical uses of the terms sustainability and sustainable development. The module is organised around three themes. The first theme provides an analysis of the contested nature of sustainable development. The second theme reviews key actors and ideas that contribute to sustainability debates. The third theme examines selected strategies by which more sustainable societies might emerge. It also analyses key issues in the governance of sustainable development.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

  • Understand the main aspects of the theoretical debate around sustainable development;
  • Critically analyse key interpretations of sustainability;
  • Evaluate key debates on governance and sustainable development; and
  • Appreciate how sustainable development is used in practice.

Skills that will be practised and developed

Academic/subject-specific skills:

Students will be expected to demonstrate skills of critical analysis through an ability to:

  • identify key issues and relationships;

  • critically evaluate various approaches—for example, ecological modernisation, bioregionalism to sustainable development, and to distinguish the merits and weaknesses of strong and weak versions of sustainable development;

  • apply sustainability thinking to a range of policy and thematic contexts.


    Transferable/employability skills:

    Students will practice and develop the following:

  • Data collection skills including qualitative data, data collection and synthesis using databases, web, and other sources

  • Use language accurately and communicate information efficiently and effectively

  • Process large quantities of information rapidly

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Written Assessment 75 Critical Review Essay N/A 1 N/A
Presentation 25 Presentation N/A 1 N/A

Essential Reading and Resource List

Brangwyn, B. and R. Hopkins (2008) ,Transition Initiatives Primer – becoming a Transition Town, City, District, Village, Community or even Island. Transition Network.

Cohen, Alice, and James McCarthy. "Reviewing rescaling Strengthening the case for environmental considerations." Progress in Human Geography 39.1 (2015): 3-25.

Duit, Andreas, Peter H. Feindt, and James Meadowcroft. "Greening Leviathan: the rise of the environmental state?." Environmental Politics 25.1 (2016): 1-23.

Komiyama, H. and K. Takeuchi (2006) Sustainability science: building a new discipline. Sustainability Science, 1, pp1-6.

Lipschutz, R. D. (1998) Bioregionalism, civil society and global environmental governance. In: M. V. McGinnis (ed.) Bioregionalism. London: Routledge. (Chapter 6, pp101-120).

Meadowcroft, James. "Reaching the limits? Developed country engagement with sustainable development in a challenging conjuncture." Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 31.6 (2013): 988-1002.

Thaler, Thomas, and Meike Levin-Keitel. "Multi-level stakeholder engagement in flood risk management—A question of roles and power: Lessons from England." Environmental Science & Policy 55 (2016): 292-301.

Background Reading and Resource List

Syllabus content

Theme 1: Sustainable Development: core meanings and contestations

This theme will provide students with an introduction to the module. It will consist of lectures focusing on ‘how development became unsustainable’, the practical value of a contested concept’. Seminars within this theme will focus on sustainability science, and sustainability and cities.

Theme 2: Ideas

The second theme will include lectures on environmental ethics (intra and inter-generational issues), anthropocentrism versus ecocentrism and environmental justice. Seminars which focus on sustainable consumption; utopianism and sustainable development; and nature, culture and science.

Theme 3: Sustainable development: Strategies

This theme will include bioregionalism; the environmental state, economics and the environment; and the governance of sustainable development. It will focus on readings relating to bioregionalism, transition towns, and the challenge of community participation.

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