SHE Level 5
SCQF Credit Points 15.00
ECTS Credit Points 7.50
Module Code MMV523258
Module Leader Xander Kirke
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Politics
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge


Summary of Content

This module critically examines the ethics of climate change. It does so by situating climate change, and the concept of climate justice, within the wider debates and schools of thought prevalent in the field of environmental ethics. This approach allows students to develop a broad understanding of environmental ethics; an ability to apply different ethical frameworks to the specific issue of climate change; knowledge of the challenges climate change poses for traditional ethical theories; and a nuanced and critical understanding of the ethical dimensions of the concept of climate justice.


The taught syllabus will cover the following areas: -360b7 Climate change: the science, culprits and costs b7 The 'problem' of anthropocentrism b7 Theories of animal liberation b7 Are animal rights approaches compatible with an environmental ethic? b7 Ecocentrism and intrinsic value b7 Deep ecology b7 The ethics of place: tensions between the global and the local b7 Criticisms of holistic approaches to environmental ethics b7 Social ecology b7 Virtue ethics b7 Theorising justice: historical, international and intergenerational b7 The ethics of scientific uncertainty: arguments about climate change b7 The concept of climate justice

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module students should be able to: " Critically evaluate various ethical approaches towards the environment, such as ecocentrism, biocentrism, virtue ethics, deep ecology and animal liberation theory (A5, B6, C1)" Apply different ethical frameworks to the specific issue of climate change (A4, A5, B6, C1)" Engage critically with those ethical debates that are of relevance to climate change, including holistic vs. individualistic approaches to environmental ethics; how to value nature appropriately; the moral status of future generations; and the ethical implications of scientific uncertainty (A1, A2, A4, A5, A6, A7, B6, C1)" Research, critically evaluate and integrate information and data from a variety of sources (B4);" Demonstrate a critical understanding of the ethical dimensions of the concept of climate justice (A2, A4, A5, C1);" Producing and presenting detailed critiques to a professional standard (C2); " Presenting research findings in a number of formats to a professional standard (C5).

Teaching / Learning Strategy

Content will be delivered via a combination of seminars, lectures and online directed learning tasks. The lectures provide essential background information and introduce the topics that are subsequently covered in seminars. The aim in seminars, on the other hand, is to harness the epistemic value of structured deliberative communication. In order to ensure that students are adequately prepared for seminars they are provided with discussion questions in advance and are required to consult set readings/videos. They are also required to engage in preparatory online directed learning tasks, such as the creation of wikis, multiple-choice quizzes and taking part in online discussions. These feed into seminar discussions. Various social media platforms, such as Twitter and Pinterest, are also used to facilitate the collection and dissemination of relevant material amongst students. Coursework is submitted and marked electronically via Grademark.

Indicative Reading

Books and Journal Articles: -567 Armstrong, S. J. and Botzler, R. G. (2003) Environmental Ethics: Divergence and Convergence (New York: McGraw Hill). Arnold, D. G. (ed.) (2014) The Ethics of Global Climate Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Attfield, R. (2014) Environmental Ethics: An Overview for the Twenty-first Century, 2nd Edition (London: Polity Press). Broome, J. (2014) Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World (London: W.W. Norton) Brown, D. A. (2012) Climate Change Ethics: Navigating the Perfect Moral Storm (London: Routledge). Callicott, J. B. (ed.) (2005) Environmental Philosophy: Critical Concepts in the Environment (London: Routledge). Cooper, D. E. (1992) The Environment in Question: Ethics and Global Issues (London: Routledge). DesJardins, J. R. (2012) Environmental Ethics: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy, 5th Edition (Belmont: Wadsworth). Davidson, S. (2007) 'The Troubled Marriage of Deep Ecology and Bioregionalism', Environmental Values , Vol. 16(3): 313-332 Devall, B. (1988) Simple in Means, Rich in Ends: Practicing Deep Ecology (Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith). Di Paola, M. and Pellegrino, G. (2014) Canned Heat: The Ethics and Politics of Global Climate Change (London: Routledge). Eckersley, E. (1992) Environmentalism and Political Theory: Towards an Ecocentric Approach (London: UCL Press). Gardiner, S. M. (2013) A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Garvey, J. (2011) The Ethics of Climate Change: Right and Wrong in a Warming World (London: Continuum). Hayward, T. (1998) Political Theory and Ecological Values (Cambridge: Polity Press). Holden, B. (2002) Democracy and Global Warming (London: Continuum). Jamieson, D. (ed.) (2003) A Companion to Environmental Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing). Jamieson, D. (2014) Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed and What It Means for Our Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Keller, D. R. (2010) Environmental Ethics: The Big Questions (Wiley-Blackwell). Light, A. and Rolston III, H. (2003) Environmental Ethics: An Anthology (Oxford: Blackwell). Low, N. (ed.) (1999) Global Ethics and Environment (London: Routledge). Schmidtz, D. and Willott, E. (2002) Environmental Ethics: What Really Matters, What Really Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Singer, P. ([1975] 1995) Animal Liberation, 2nd Edition (London: Pimlico). Tremmel, J. and Robinson, K. (2014) Climate Ethics: Environmental Justice and Climate Change (I.B. Taurus). Regan, T. (2004) The Case for Animal Rights (University of California Press). Zimmerman, M. E. (ed.) (1998) Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology (London: Prentice). Online Sources: Various journals, including Environmental Ethics, Environmental Values and Environmental Politics .

Transferrable Skills

-360b7 Critical thinking and problem solving (D1); b7 Cognitive/intellectual skills (D2); b7 Knowledge and understanding in the context of the subject (D3); b7 Time management (organising and planning work) (D6); b7 Independent working (D7); b7 Information retrieval skills (D10); b7 Group working (D12); b7 ICT (D13); b7 Communication skills, written, oral and listening (D14).

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Practicals (PT) 6.00
Seminars (FT) 22.00
Seminars (PT) 22.00
Independent Learning (PT) 92.00
Lectures (FT) 12.00
Lectures (PT) 12.00
Practicals (FT) 6.00
Assessment (PT) 18.00
Assessment (FT) 18.00
Independent Learning (FT) 92.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 2 n/a 30.00 45% Critical Review
Coursework 1 n/a 70.00 45% Module Essay