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University of Exeter Business School

Environmental Governance

Module titleEnvironmental Governance
Module codeBEPM011
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr David Monciardini (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Within this module, we examine the complex interaction between multiple social, political, cultural, economic and ecological factors in the field of environmental governance. We recognise how multiple actors at and between various levels of regulation and modes of governance shape and constrain environmental governance processes and outcomes.

The module emphasises the relationship between conventional state-led environmental protection, private regulation, and new 'hybrid' environmental policy instruments that blur the distinctions between governmental, market and civil society. The module illustrates these ongoing processes using real cases of climate and environmental policy and governance from different low-income to high-income countries. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this interdisciplinary module is to introduce you to major debates surrounding environmental governance as the process of steering and enabling collective action to manage environmental resources and tackle societal ‘grand challenges’, such as climate change and biodiversity loss.

Environmental problems are complex, multi-level, multi-dimensional and related to the interests of a variety of stakeholders. Thus, they need to be dealt with through an integrated approach. Within this module, you will critically discuss theories of environmental governance, in order to understand the relationship between societies and the environment, how this relationship is organised, from state-led policies and law to market-based approaches and new “hybrid” modes of governance, and how environmental regulation influences and is influenced by business management.

Using real world case studies and debating with leading experts, you will critically examine the complementary role of different actors and institutions (international organisations, governments, businesses, and civil society) in creating governance mechanisms that support environmental growth and social well-being. The overarching aim of this module is to provide you with the ability to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to environmental governance and the role of businesses is these institutional arrangements.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Analyse key issues and different modes of environmental governance
  • 2. Examine examples of design and implementation of environmental governance at different levels
  • 3. Critically discuss issues of power inequalities within environmental governance

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Formulate your own arguments about the role of different actors and institutions (e.g., international organisations, governments, businesses, civil society) in overcoming environmental challenges

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Communicate policies’ advice professionally
  • 6. Clearly articulate environmental challenges and rationalise their potential solutions with broader audiences

Syllabus plan

The module will cover, but not be limited to, the following themes:

  • Theories, modes, and evolution of environmental governance
  • Environmental policy: global, international, regional, national, and local case studies
  • Principles and key concepts of environmental law
  • New forms of cross-sectoral environmental governance
  • Link environmental governance with other important fields of international politics, e.g., human rights, trade, and development
  • Governance of the commons
  • Power inequalities and regulatory capture within environmental governance
  • Discussions on climate justice and climate change as colonial legacies
  • Corporate accountability: environmental, social and governance

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching11Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching6Student-guided seminars
Guided Independent Study73Preparation for assessments
Guided Independent Study60Preparation for seminar and reading the suggested materials

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar presentation30 minutes1-6Oral and peer review

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio of a series of presentation305 minutes per presentation1-4, 6Written via eBART
Policy Proposal and communication plan703,000 words1-6Written via eBART

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Portfolio of a series of presentationPortfolio of a series of presentation – 5 minutes per presentation1-4, 6Referral/deferral period
Policy ProposalPolicy Proposal – 3000 words1-5Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you have been deferred for any assessment you will be expected to submit the relevant assessment. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

There is no recommended textbook. Books and articles that cover substantial parts of the syllabus are:

  • Evans, J. P. (2011) Environmental Governance. Routledge, London
  • Kütting, G. and Lipschutz, R. (Eds.) (2009) Environmental Governance: Power and Knowledge in a Local-Global World. Routledge, London.
  • Sands, P. (2018) Principles of International Environmental Law. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
  • Kraft, M. and Vig, N. (2018) Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-First Century. SAGE, London.
  • Adger, N. & Jordan A. (2009) (Eds) Governing sustainability. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
  • Büthe, T., & Mattli, W. (2011). The new global rulers. In The New Global Rulers. Princeton University Press. 
  • Ruggie, J. G. (2018). Multinationals as global institution: Power, authority and relative autonomy. Regulation & Governance, 12(3), 317-333.
  • Bartley, T. (2007). Institutional emergence in an era of globalization: The rise of transnational private regulation of labor and environmental conditions. American Journal of Sociology, 113(2), 297-351.
  • Bartley, T. (2018). Transnational corporations and global governance. Annual Review of Sociology, 44, 145-165.
  • Vogel, D. (2008). Private global business regulation. Annual Review of Political Science, 11, 261-282.
  • Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. (2011). The new political role of business in a globalized world: A review of a new perspective on CSR and its implications for the firm, governance, and democracy. Journal of management studies, 48(4), 899-931.
  • Cashore, B., Knudsen, J. S., Moon, J., & van der Ven, H. (2021). Private authority and public policy interactions in global context: Governance spheres for problem solving. Regulation & Governance, 15(4), 1166-1182.

A comprehensive bibliography will be available to students taking this course.

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • Bulkeley, H. and Newell, P. (2015) Governing Climate Change. Second Edition. Routledge, London.
  • Sjåfjell, B. and Bruner, C.M. (2019). Cambridge Handbook of Corporate Law, Corporate Governance and Sustainability. Corporate Governance and Sustainability. Cambridge University Press.
  • Roberts, J. (2010) Environmental Policy (London: Routledge, 2nd edition).
  • Ernstson, H. and Swyngedouw E. (2018) (Eds.) Interrupting the Anthropo-Obscene. Routledge, London
  • Perreault T, Bridge G. and J. McCarthy (2015) (Eds.) Handbook of Political Ecology, Routledge, London and New York
  • Ostrom, E. (1990). Governing the commons: The evolution of institutions for collective action. Cambridge University Press.
  • Connelly, J., Smith, G., Benson, D., & Saunders, C. (2012). Politics and the environment: from theory to practice. Routledge.
  • Haufler, V. (2009). The Kimberley process certification scheme: An innovation in global governance and conflict prevention. Journal of Business Ethics, 89, 403-416.
  • Fischer, E. F. (2022). Making Better Coffee: How Maya Farmers and Third Wave Tastemakers Create Value. Univ of California Press.
  • LeBaron, G., Lister, J., & Dauvergne, P. (2017). Governing global supply chain sustainability through the ethical audit regime. Globalizations, 14(6), 958-975.
  • Grabs, J. (2020). Assessing the institutionalization of private sustainability governance in a changing coffee sector. Regulation & governance, 14(2), 362-387.
  • Partzsch, L. (2020). Alternatives to multilateralism: New forms of social and environmental governance. MIT Press.

Key words search

Business regulation, global governance, environment, human rights, sustainable finance, corporate sustainability, climate change, environmental law, political ecology

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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