Dr Clive Potter and Dr Bill Sheate


  • To provide an introduction to environmental governance and the ideas, policy processes and institutional structures surrounding it;
  • To review the role of environmental planning and key assessment and management tools in environmental policy implementation.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the module students will have:

  • An understanding of what environmental governance is and why governments and the policies, instruments and agreements they put in place remain critically important in the future management of the environment;
  • An historically derived understanding of institutional change in contemporary environmental  policy and management processes
  • A critical understanding of the science-policy relationships and the nature of risk;
  • A sound empirical grasp of key assessment and management tools, their role in integrating the environment into decision-making and in promoting sustainable development.
  • An appreciation of the role of stakeholder and public participation in policy and environmental management

This module is designed to provide an overview of some of the key conceptual and practical issues concerning environmental governance, environmental planning and management in the world today. We begin with a discussion of what environmental governance is and the assumptions about sustainable development and the relationship between economic growth and the environment that underpin it. Through an analysis of complementarities and tensions that emerge from a ‘layering on’ of public, private and collective approaches to regulation, and through an understanding of the critical interface between science and policy, we aim to provide students with an interdisciplinary set of lenses through which to evaluate environmental management and mismanagement. The module then focuses on decision making procedures and techniques for effective environmental management, dealing first with the spatial planning arena: Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment, before going on to consider the nature and application of environmental management systems and life cycle assessment and related tools. The module concludes with a session exploring the nature and challenges of environmental policy-oriented research for government through two topical case studies: tree health and biodiversity offsetting. 

Environmental Policy and Management will be delivered chiefly through lecture presentations, but with a strong case study focus.  Students are strongly encouraged to contribute to class discussion through questions and comment. Lectures will be underpinned by directed learning using electronic journals, electronic databases, and other readily available literature sources.  The lectures provide an introduction to the topic and students will be expected to follow up core material, read around the subject and develop their own thinking and critiques.

Find out more about the MSc course