The Politics of Nature: Sustaining the British Environment 1600 to the Present (HIC3307)

StaffDr Tim Cooper - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module investigates the history and politics of ideas of ‘nature’ as they have developed in Britain between the late eighteenth-century down to the present day. The module encourages students to engage critically with the emergence of the themes of environment and sustainability, and the ideological implication of such terms in particular. We look at a range of themes, especially the role of ‘nature’ as a concept in political economy; the impact of environmental transformation on urban and global environments; and the emergence of environmental politics from the late-nineteenth century. The aim is to encourage students to develop historical interests in contemporary issues and to prepare to engage in environmental questions as active citizens in a democratic society

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate significant knowledge and critical engagement with a range of historical issues around the themes of environment and sustainability.
  • 2. demonstrate an ability to deploy effectively a range of the tools of ideology critique and discourse analysis in analysis of historical ideas about nature.
  • 3. Demonstrate effectively the connections between material environmental transformations and ideologies across a range of themes and contexts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. deploy effectively the concepts of ideology and discourse analysis in the critical analysis of historical sources
  • 5. analyse a full range of original sources effectively and assess their utility as historical evidence
  • 6. develop sustained, independent historical arguments in a variety of forms using appropriate terminology

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. set tasks independently and solve problems, formulating appropriate questions and marshaling relevant evidence to answer them
  • 8. digest, select and synthesize evidence and arguments to produce, to a deadline, a coherent, critical and cogent argument
  • 9. be able to articulate the relationship between historical knowledge and contemporary political and social issues related to environmental change
  • 10. be able to effectively articulate your own critical viewpoints

Syllabus plan

Themes to be addressed in this module may include: Ideology; Discourse Analysis; Political Economy and the Idea of Nature; Pollution and Control; Urban Change and The Environment; The Idea of Conservation; Waste; Imperialism and Environmental Transformation; The Origins of Modern Environmentalism

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
Classes11Students will be expected to read and prepare for these classes which develop the main themes of the module
seminars22Student-led seminars which focus on the careful reading of primary source material
Guided independant study44Reading for classes. Readings to be provided on ELE.
Guided independant study44Reading for seminars. Readings to be provided on ELE.
Guided independant study40Classroom set-exercise. You will also be expected to conduct reading from the relevant further readings on ELE and your own independent research.
Guided independant study56Critical Source analysis portfolio You will also be expected to conduct reading from the relevant further readings on ELE and your own independent research.
Guided independant study50Exam preparation. You will also be expected to conduct reading from the relevant further readings on ELE and your own independent research.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Classroom set-exercise 120 minutes1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10Verbal
Group Presentation20 Minutes1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10Verbal and peer feedback

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
Critical Source Analysis Portfolio503,000 words1,2,3,4,5,6,8Written
Exam502 hours1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
CriticSource Analysis PortfolioCritical source analysis Portfolio 3,000 words1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8Referral/deferral period
ExamEssay 3,000 words 1,2,3,4,5,6,8Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

give details of how re-assessment will be calculated. This section can also be used to indicate where re-assessment is not available


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

J. Winter: Secure from Rash Assault (2002)

H. Ritvo, The Dawn of Green (2009)

K. Thomas, Man and the Natural World (several edns.)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

History, Environment, Nature, Ideology, Sustainability, Politics