New MA course in Energy and Environmental Change

PSI is contributing a module to a new MA course at the University of Westminster.

The MA Energy and Environmental Change is an interdisciplinary degree that combines international relations, law, business and sustainability studies. As such it provides a comprehensive examination of energy security, energy markets and climate change from global, regional and local perspectives. The degree equips students with knowledge of key intellectual frameworks and critical issues. The course offers an holistic approach to the dynamics governing energy-transition to a low-carbon economy nexus. Students are required to complete five interconnected core modules and may select one option module.

The course combines expertise from:

  • Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Westminster Business School
  • Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

The course is delivered in full-time and part-time mode with either September or January intake.

Course modules

This module aims at evaluating the relevance of contemporary debates in international relations and political economy to the study of energy security, energy markets and climate change. It examines the political history of the modern energy systems and the role played by states and major private and state-owned companies. In addition, it explores the role of global institutions and their impact on the interplay between energy security, energy markets and climate change. It scrutinises issues that underpin key discussions in the energy and climate change area, such as development, limits to growth, transparency, sustainability and the role of civil society. The module also critically assesses standard approaches to the issue of energy security by focusing on the problem of energy poverty and resilience.

Since the 2000s the global energy landscape that took shape in the last two decades of the twentieth century has been altered due to major geo-political and geo-economical shifts, the rise of new players in the energy sector and technological breakthroughs. The aim of this module is to analyse the impact that these developments had on the energy security of key producing and consuming countries. It will analyse these problems by focusing on change and continuity in the decision-making processes of state and non-state actors. Countries covered include the US, the EU, the Asian rising powers, Russia and specific case studies from the Middle East, Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

This module is designed to introduce students to the principles of international law relevant to the development and use of energy resources. To this end, the course examines the evolution of principles relating to permanent sovereignty over natural resources, ‘shared’ resources and resources outside areas of national jurisdiction. It involves consideration of relevant international legal principles pertaining to oil and gas resources, the use of water resources in energy generation, renewables and nuclear energy. The course has particular regard to the evolving international legal framework on the mitigation of climate change, and its impact on international energy law and policy. The course also examines the impact of other principles of international law on the energy sector, such as relevant principles of international environmental law, foreign investment and trade law, and human rights.

The focus of this module is on energy economics and, in particular, on the role of markets in driving energy policy and strategy in both the short and long term. It covers a variety of theoretical and empirical topics related to energy demand, energy supply and energy prices, the influence of fiscal instruments on market operation and the importance of banks and financial institutions for the funding of energy projects.  The first half of the module will explore a number of key themes and conceptual issues. These will include: an analysis of the structure and operation of oil, gas, coal, electricity and renewables markets and issues of price discovery, carbon trading, green taxes and subsidies; the role of banks and alternative sources of financing for oil and gas projects; an exploration of approaches to modelling and forecasting the supply, demand and price of energy and energy derivatives. The second half of the module will have a practical focus, with sessions led by guest speakers drawn from a range of energy companies, renewables firms or from policy ‘think-tanks’. These will take the form of short participative workshops exploring case studies on energy strategy and sustainability.

This module introduces a framework for analysing and shaping the transition to a low-carbon society. Core ideas are transformative innovation, sociotechnical systems and sustainability transitions.  They are explored in relation to key end use arenas of the energy system – buildings, transport and local energy networks. Attention is given to the multilevel governance and policy aspects of sociotechnical transition.

Students will also need to produce a dissertation of 12,500 words.

For more information, visit the course page.