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The politics and practice of sustainability

HU0003 The politics and practice of sustainability, 15.0 Credits

Hållbarhetens politik och praktik

Syllabus approved



Sustainable development

Education cycle

Bachelor’s level

Advanced study in the main field

First cycle, less than 60 credits from first-cycle courses as entry requirements(G1F)

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

15 credits Sustainable development.


The aim of the course is to develop students theoretical and practical understanding of the complexity of sustainability issues of today. The course emphasises political aspects of sustainability – how different values, opportunities for different actors to participate in decision-making, and goal conflicts shapes sustainable development. The course provides a thorough understanding of different theoretical perspectives on sustainable development and how sustainability is expressed in policy (in Sweden and internationally). During the course the students analyse current sustainability challenges from a practical and problem-oriented perspective, including social, economic and environmental consequences.

Upon completion of the course the student should be able to:
- account for different goal conflicts and how these can be handled in the management of sustainability based on critical social theories on dialogue, participation and conflict;
- critically analyse the different ways in which sustainability is expressed and implemented in Swedish and international policy, as well as in different research and disciplinary fields;
- through problem-based case studies, analyse a current problem relating to sustainable development and its social, economic and environmental dimensions and consequences;
- orally and in writing present findings to different concerned actors.


The course consists of a mixture of lectures, seminars and independent work, individually and in groups. The literature provides a basis for lectures, seminars and will also be used in other assignments, such as case studies and practical work.

The course consists of two parts:

The first part discusses how sustainable development is conceptually used in different theoretical fields and traditions. It presents important critical and theoretical perspectives on the role and function of politics in sustainable development, for example, political ecology and environmental communication. Emphasis is on how values, participation and conflicts influence different proposed solutions to sustainability issues, in policy and practice.

The second part consists of practical work. The aim is to have student groups working with current sustainability problems engaging with different actors/stakeholders. By working in groups students take shared responsibility for investigating, analysing and reporting possible solutions to current real-world problems, and gain insights into specific sustainability challenges and from a coupled social, economic and environmental perspective. The students will practice their skills of practical problem-solving, presentation, academic writing and discussing findings from different viewpoints and with different actors, including administration and decision-makers at the external partner organisations. This part may entail travels.

Formats and requirements for examination

Examination through:
- passed written exam;
- passed oral and written project;
- passed active participation in mandatory seminars.
  • 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 Urban and Rural Development

Further information

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

Course facts

The course is offered as an independent course: Yes The course is offered as a programme course: Political Science - Sustainable Development (BSc) Tuition fee: Tuition fee only for non-EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens: 27500 SEK Cycle: Bachelor’s level
Subject: Sustainable development
Course code: HU0003 Application code: SLU-40122 Location: Uppsala Distance course: No Language: Swedish Responsible department: Department of Urban and Rural Development Pace: 100%