HI6035 - The Politics of the Environment in Modern Britain

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What will I learn on this module?

On this module you will learn about why the exploitation of Britain’s natural environment became a source of political contention after 1945. You will consider how the consumerism, new technologies and late industrial capitalism that underpinned post-war affluence in Britain was based on an increasingly complex global system that exploited natural resources with ever-greater intensity. You will, for instance, reflect on the following questions: What was the ‘Second Agricultural Revolution’ and why was it so controversial? Was coal, oil, nuclear or gas the best way of securing a reliable source of energy? What was the environmental impact of new leisure cultures? In Britain, intensive use of natural resources led to increased pollution, the transformation of the countryside and a collapse in biodiversity. It was very difficult to strike a balance between the needs and demands of citizen-consumers, the rights private property-owners, and the environmental consequences of improved standards of living. You will learn about the emergence of a new environmental politics in Britain and how this was a response to local, national and international concerns. In particular, by looking at the development of theories of climate change, you will be able to contextualise historically the environmental challenges of today and develop a greater understanding of why it is so difficult to agree on how to respond to our growing environmental crisis. This module will also encourage you to engage with the ‘more-than-human’ aspects of recent historiography and consider how these have changed the way we think about history and politics itself.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn on this module by a mixture of lecture and seminar elements. The first part of each session will include a mini lecture, introducing that week’s subject and the themes for discussion. This will be followed by a focus on the set reading (available via the electronic reading list) and the historiographical debates related to the subject area. The seminars will involve small group work and larger group discussion and will be structured around a pre-circulated worksheet, which will include a set of questions. Following a short break, the last part of the class will focus on the primary source material and will include focused discussion of two or three short extracts. Time will be set aside to practice writing responses to source materials under timed conditions, thereby preparing you for the examination. You will receive formative feedback throughout the learning process and the summative assessment will match your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through your module tutor, engagement with your peers, and through the programme leader. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised Feedback and Consultation hours and via email. Your peers will provide you with a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your degree programme, of which this module is part. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLP. Formative feedback will be on-going through seminar activities and assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

What will I be expected to read on this module? (SRS 0004) All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Knowledge and understanding of how the natural environment became a source of political contention in modern Britain.
2. An appreciation of the origins of the current environmental crisis and why it is difficult to agree possible solutions

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Demonstrate a range of transferable skills, including the ability to make independent critical judgements, to critically evaluate sources, to summarise the research of others, and to present arguments in a cogent and persuasive way.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. Awareness of and sensitivity towards different social groups and interests engaged in environmental politics.
5. Engagement with ethical questions concerning environmental justice and ‘more-than-human’ perspectives, and how they can be translated from historical to contemporary contexts.

How will I be assessed?

1 x 3,000-word essay (weighted 50%). This essay will be written in response to one question chosen from a list provided by the module tutor. (MLOs 1,3, 4)

1 x source paper under examination conditions (weighted 50%). In the exam, you will discuss short extracts from sources that will have been looked at closely in the seminars. (MLOs 1-5)

Formative feedback for each assessment will be provided in seminars, including practise gobbet answers. Verbal and written feedback will be given on all summative assessed work. Feedback on initial summative assessments will enable you to improve on later ones.





Module abstract

This module will help you to understand the development of environmental politics in modern Britain and the emergence of ‘more-than-human’ perspectives in historical and political writing. You will consider how the rise of consumer society and late industrial capitalism relied on the intensive exploitation of natural resources and why this generated a new kind of politics. Examining these issues will help you to understand how Britain’s natural environment has been transformed in the last 70 years, why this transformation generated significant political tensions, and the origins of the current environmental crisis, particularly climate change. By taking this module, you will therefore develop a greater understanding the difficulties inherent to reconciling public and private interests, leaving you able to make sense of some of the most pressing political challenges facing Britain today, particularly with respect to how they are linked to local and national developments and global processes.

Course info

UCAS Code QV31

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

Fee Information

Module Information

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