CPT832 - Theories and Principles of Sustainable Development

SchoolCardiff School of Planning and Geography
Department CodeCPLAN0
Module CodeCPT832
External Subject CodeK450
Number of Credits20
Language of DeliveryEnglish
Module Leader Dr Andrew Flynn
SemesterAutumn Semester
Academic Year2013/4

Outline Description of Module

The purpose of this module is to provide a theoretical base from which to analyse sustainable development.  It does so by examining differing 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 then goes on to analyse key issues in the governance of sustainable development.

On completion of the module a student should be able to


How the module will be delivered

The module will be delivered by a combination of:



Directed reading

Lectures and seminars are supplemented by Powerpoint presentations (slides are copied and made available) and handouts. Key readings that are used in teaching sessions will 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.

Teaching will take place in time slots of up to @6 hours over 4 days. These will blend together lectures and seminars.

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:

 Transferable/employability skills

Students will practice and develop the following:

How the module will be assessed

Critical Review Essay (35%)
Conference Poster (35%)
Presentation (30%)

Formative - Analysing key readings


Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs) Period Week
Written Assessment 35
Critical Review Essay
N/A 1 N/A
Written Assessment 35
Conference Poster
N/A 1 N/A
Written Assessment 30
N/A 1 N/A

Syllabus content

Theme 1 Sustainable Development: core meanings and contestations

Introduction to the module: How development became unsustainable

Seminar:Sustainability Science

Sustainable development: Genealogy, contestation the practical value of a contested concept

Seminar: Sustainability and Cities 

Theme 2: Ideas

Seminar: Sustainable consumption

Seminar: Utopianism and sustainable development

Seminar: Nature, culture and science

Preparation for assessed work 1 (critical review essay)

Environmental ethics: intra and inter-generational issues

Anthropocentrism Vs Ecocentrism: the role of deep ecology

Seminar: self-positioning on sustainable development 

Theme 3: Sustainable development: Strategies

Bioregionalism: an introduction

Seminar: guided reading on Bioregionalism

Seminar: Transition towns

Preparation for assessed work 2 (conference poster and presentation)

Economics and the environment

Seminar: Weak and strong sustainable development

Environmental democracy or participatory managerialism? The ‘carrying’ of SD

Seminar:The participatory challenge; (re)positioning on sustainable development

Essential Reading and Resource List

Callenbach, E. (1978) Ecotopia, London: Pluto Press. 

Carter N (2007) The Politics of the Environment, (2nd edn),Cambridge University Press 

Hediger W (1999) Reconciling ``weak'' and ``strong'' sustainability, International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 26 No. 7/8/9, 1999, pp. 1120-1143 

Lahsen M (2005) Technocracy, Democracy, and U.S. Climate Politics: The Need for Demarcations, Science, Technology, & Human Values, Vol. 30 No. 1, Winter 2005 137-169 

Rose S, A Town Called Eco: What notions of sustainable development do the government’s proposed eco-towns embody? CSERGE Working Paper EDM 09-05 

Shove E (2010) Beyond the ABC: climate change policy and theories of social change, Environment and Planning A 2010, volume 42, pages 1273 - 1285

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