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Society and environment

The course "Man, society and nature" is a part of the joint master programme "Sustainable development" between Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Uppsala University. Its main objective is to present different social science perspectives on management of sustainable development. That is, how do social science disciplines approach and conceptualise sustainable development, and which strategies for promoting sustainable development are suggested? The course covers different disciplines such as law, economics, political science, business administration, psychology, and philosophy, which are discussed and applied to a number of different environmental and sustainability issues of concern in various parts of the world.

The time frame for this course is decided in an overall programme plan, and may change from year to year. If you are not an attendee of this programme, but still want to take the course, please contact the course leader for up to date information.

HU0002 Society and environment, 10.0 Credits

Samhälle och miljö

Syllabus approved



Sustainable development

Education cycle

Master’s level


Title Credits Code
Single module 10.00 1002

Advanced study in the main field

Second cycle, course specialisation cannot be classified(AXX)

Grading scale

5:Pass with Distinction, 4:Pass with Credit, 3:Pass, U:Fail The requirements for attaining different grades are described in the course assessment criteria which are contained in a supplement to the course syllabus. Current information on assessment criteria shall be made available at the start of the course.



Prior knowledge

A Bachelor’s degree of at least 180 credits.
English language proficiency that corresponds to English studies at upper secondary (high school) level in Sweden ("English 6").


Main Objective
The students will work in a transdisciplinary learning environment to develop theoretical and practical knowledge for analysing ecological, social and economic sustainability using the tools and frameworks of complex systems. After completing the course, students will be able to analyse the complex and dynamic interactions between society and nature, create visions of alternative futures and compare those futures in terms of their potential sustainability.

Part Objectives
After the completed course, the students are expected to be able to:
- Critically analyse and discuss sustainability from different ecological, social and economic perspectives within an integrative systems framework.
- Select and apply appropriate systems methods for analysing complex sustainable development issues.
- Analyse the relationships between the practices and options for land use and long-term maintenance of ecosystem services in relation to socio-economic development, resource use conflicts and governance.
- Create and evaluate scenarios for systemic change to enhance the potential for long-term sustainability.


The course focuses on advanced knowledge on how individuals, organizations, and governing institutions and their respective underlying worldviews can change to achieve sustainability in a world of accelerating climate change, biodiversity loss and a finite supply of the resources essential for human wellbeing. This implies the identification of potentials and constraints for sustainable development in different societies from ecological, social and economic perspectives. Basic principles of governance for sustainability are discussed, such as democracy, human rights, poverty and inequality, land use, economic systems and policy for sustainable development.

Approaches to understanding and considering changes to the organization of society for achieving sustainable development will be described, and different solutions for the management of environmental resources under conditions of risk, vulnerability and uncertainty will be discussed. Perspectives from different disciplines and approaches to sustainable development at different temporal and spatial scales will be analyzed, and criteria for successful management of human and natural resources be identified.

Treated topics include:
- The use of complex systems and holistic methods for the design of sustainable development interventions including use of tools from complex systems and social-ecological systems frameworks for analysing sustainability and future visioning and planning for transformational change.
- Studies of sustainability issues in relation to equity, gender and indigenous people.
- Adaptive governance, land use conflict in relation to trade-offs among ecosystem services and stakeholder’s ambitions, and the sustainability implications of exported environmental costs.
- Sustainable development from neoclassical and ecological economics perspectives.
- The synergies and conflicts between climate change, biodiversity loss and other Agenda 2030 goals.
- Undertake case studies of contemporary sustainability issues as a practical exercise in transdisciplinarity.

Formats and requirements for examination

Written home exam, presentation of project work, discussions and seminar participation/presentations (as above).
Passed home examination, approved project work and seminar presentations.
Active participation in seminars and participation in compulsory parts, which are discussions.
  • If the student fails a test, the examiner may give the student a supplementary assignment, provided this is possible and there is reason to do so.
  • If the student has been granted special educational support because of a disability, the examiner has the right to offer the student an adapted test, or provide an alternative assessment.
  • If changes are made to this course syllabus, or if the course is closed, SLU shall decide on transitional rules for examination of students admitted under this syllabus but who have not yet passed the course.
  • For the examination of a degree project (independent project), the examiner may also allow the student to add supplemental information after the deadline. For more information on this, please refer to the regulations for education at Bachelor's and Master's level.

Other information

  • The right to take part in teaching and/or supervision only applies to the course date to which the student has been admitted and registered on.
  • If there are special reasons, the student may take part in course components that require compulsory attendance at a later date. For more information on this, please refer to the regulations for education at Bachelor's and Master's level.

Responsible department

Department of Ecology
Cooperating departments:
Department of Urban and Rural Development

Further information

Determined by: Programnämnden för utbildning inom naturresurser och jordbruk (PN - NJ)
Replaces: MX0155
There are no Grading criteria posted for this course

Course facts

The course is offered as an independent course: No The course is offered as a programme course: Master's Programme in Sustainable Development Tuition fee: Tuition fee only for non-EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens: 18333 SEK Cycle: Master’s level
Subject: Sustainable development
Course code: HU0002 Application code: SLU-20161 Location: Uppsala Distance course: No Language: English Responsible department: Department of Ecology Pace: 80%