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Natural Resources and Geopolitics (Current Global and Development Challenges and Solutions)

Natural Resources and Geopolitics (Current Global and Development Challenges and Solutions)
Master programme in
Global Studies * / International Development Studies * / Global and Development Studies / European Master in Global Studies
Type of activity


Teaching language
Study regulation

Registration is through stads selvbetjeningwithin the announced registration period, as you can see on the Studyadministration homepage.

When registering for study activities, please be aware of the potential conflicts between study activities or exam dates. The planning of activities at Roskilde University is based on the recommended study programs which do not overlap. However, if you choose optional courses and/or study plans that goes beyond the recommended study programs, an overlap of lectures or exam dates may occur depending on which courses you choose.

Number of participants
Responsible for the activity
Lars Buur (lbuur@ruc.dk)
Head of study
Study administration
ISE Registration & Exams (ise-exams@ruc.dk)
Exam code(s)
Overall objective

A specialisation course aims to allow students to immerse themselves in the theories/theory lines and empirical issues pertaining to a particular subject area. The course equips students to competently select and argue for the applicability and relevance of a theory/theory line to given issues. The courses offered are based on the Institute's research in the field and knowledge of the highest international standard. The specific subject area of the courses will be described in the activity description.

Current Global and Development Challenges and Solutions addresses various global and development challenges, such as conflicts, questions of justice, inequality, sustainability, and effects for instance on states, markets and civil society.

Detailed description of content

Natural resource extraction and geopolitics: resources, extraction and conflict

Academic focus. The demand for and competition over natural resources have emerged as key topics both in resource-rich developing countries, and resource-consuming developed countries. Developments around land-grabbing, natural resource investments, renewable energy, sustainability, and climate change have become deeply entangled with the appetite for resources. They have meant that traditional geopolitical issues re-emerge in the form of struggles to protect and control resources and the environment as leading nation states and transnational companies intensify searches for and claims over potentially resource-rich areas. At the same time however, a new parallel institutional geopolitical architecture has also emerged that slowly but steadily manifests itself by trying to tame, control, govern and set standards for the regulation, extraction, and use of funds from scarce resources, and which impacts on the governance of land, investments and climate, often in the name of sustainability.

This advanced study seminar takes stock of current debates within political economy and political ecology around natural resource extraction and governance. It traces the historical roots of academic debates, arguments, explanations, and ontologies underpinning natural resource governance. We examine emerging trends around climate change, renewables, natural resource investments, resource conflicts, corporate social responsibility, the role of new institutional geopolitical actors for regulation and standard setting, and provides examples of localised resource governance.

The course is organised around three dimensions: Gold and regulation; Renewables and green transitions; Investments, land, and rights.


Individual written portfolio. The portfolio consists of 2 written products, that wholly or partially are developed during the course.

1.) The first part of the examination is a literature review based on ten possible titles presented at the first lecture covering the three thematic fields dealt with in the course. The written assignment may not exceed 14,400 characters, including spaces (corresponding to five standard pages). To be handed in at the end of the course. The list of books for literature review will be provided at the start of the course.

2.) The second part of the examination is an essay, which reflects on newspaper articles on the green transition, using at least two/three readings from the course literature to discuss the newspaper feature. To be handed in after the last lecture. The list of newspaper articles will be provided at the start of the course.

There will be a mid-term evaluation of the course.

There will be feedback on group presentation.

There will be office hours for questions, as well as feedback on assignments after exams.

Grades will be provided through eksamen.ruc.dk

For further details, see the study regulations and the course outline.

Course material and Reading list

As background/core literature: Stuart Kirsch. 2014. Mining Capitalism: the relationship between Corporations and their critics. University of California Press (several chapters from the book will be part of the curriculum) Peter Dicken (7 ediiton). 2015. Chapter 12: 'Making Holes in the Ground': The Extractive Industries. Pp. 395-422. In Peter Dicken, Global Shift: Mapping the Changing Contours of the World Economy. Sage. (background)

A full reading list will be provided consisting of a mixture of articles, reports, book chapters and other types of material that will be uploaded or stated on Moodle in good time before course start.

An additional reading list will also be uploaded on Moodle.

The pensum will be roughly 60 academic pages per lecture.

Overall plan and expected work effort

10 ECTS x 27 hours = 270 Estimated:

13 lectures x 2 =26 hours;

Group work = 10;

Exam 1: Newspaper assignment + exam 1= 78;

Preparation: reading and preparing questions 13 x 6 = 78;

Exam 2: Book review + exam 2= 78;

Total = 270 hours

Evaluation and feedback

The activity are evaluated regularly regarding the study board evaluation procedure. The activity responsible will be orientated about a potential evaluation of the activity at semesterstart. Se link to the study board evaluation praxis here https://intra.ruc.dk/nc/for-ansatte/organisering/raadnaevn- og-udvalg/oversigt-over-studienaevn/studienaevn-for-internationale-studier/arbejdet-medkvalitet- i-uddannelserne/


The course is organised around three dimensions: GOLD, regulation and geopilitics; Who can be against the green windmill industry?; and The thirst for green mineral extraction

Course Structure: Lecture 1. Introduction I: Lars Buur Why is natural resource extraction so contested?

Lecture 2. Introduction II: Lars Buur New ways of understanding geopolitics: governance of natural resources within and beyond the state centric model

Lecture 3. Introduction III. Peter Leys and Lars Buur Understanding Investments: land, rights and conflict: a theoretical approach

Lecture 4. First GOLD session. Paul A. Stacey Gold and the regulation of small-scale mining in SSA: an overview

Lecture 5. Second GOLD session. Paul A. Stacey The illegal extraction of gold in Ghana

Lecture 6. Third GOLD session. Paul A. Stacey Resource governance and geopolitical/ global power: the EITI and China’s demands for natural resources in SSA

Lecture 7. First Windmill session. Peter W. Leys. Wind energy and the limits of “sustainability”. Green transition, violence and governmentality. Is green energy sustainable?

Lecture 8. Second Windmill session. Peter W. Leys The conflict over the windfarm in Rejsby rural Denmark. What new kinds of conflict do windfarms produce?

Lecture 9. Third Windmill session. Peter W. Lays Visit by Ørsted and Vestas. Discuss with representatives of the two companies the transition to green energy and the problems and conflicts faced by wind turbine companies in implementing investments

Lecture 10. First green minerals lecture: Peter W. Leys/ Lars Buur The dark side of the green transition. Between “climate smart minerals” and “green extractivism”.

Lecture 11. Second green transition minerals lecture: Lukas Bogner/Lars Buur Corporate governance: extraction, rights and resources (maybe combined with Visit by expert from Natural resource governance institute/Publish what you pay/EITI/Oxfam Ibis…

Lecture 12. Third green minerals lecture: Peter W. Leys/Lars Buur The lithium triangle and copper in the Andes, two opposing green minerals and their differing imaginaries.

Lecture 13. Summary and exam preparation. Lars Buur and the team Overview, What is it a case of, and Exams

Overall learning outcomes

  • Be able to explain and evaluate, using relevant terminology, the advantages and disadvantages of various theories/theory lines within the aspect of a subject area that is dealt with in the specialisation course

  • Be able to confidently and independently evaluate, select and apply relevant theories in relation to an issue

  • Be able to reflect critically on the relevance of the topic to the subject matter of the course

  • Carry out analyses on a scientific basis and deal in a creative and solution-oriented manner with central issues within the course theme

  • Communicate knowledge in language that is technically precise, well-structured and well-argued.

Form of examination
Individual portfolio exam.

The character limit of the portfolio is maximum 36,000 characters, including spaces. Examples of written products are exercise responses, talking points for presentations, written feedback, reflections, written assignments. The preparation of the products may be subject to time limits.
The character limits include the cover, table of contents, bibliography, figures and other illustrations, but exclude any appendices.

The portfolio is written completely or partially during the course.

The entire portfolio must be handed in at the same time (uploaded to eksamen.ruc.dk). Handing in the portfolio or parts of the portfolio to the supervisor for feedback, cannot replace the upload to eksamen.ruc.dk.

Assessment: 7-point grading scale.
Form of Re-examination
Samme som ordinær eksamen / same form as ordinary exam
Type of examination in special cases
Examination and assessment criteria

Explain and discuss, using relevant terminology and perspectives, the advantages and disadvantages of various positions within the aspect of a natural resources and geopolitics, green transition and regulation that is dealt with in the specialisation course

• Confidently and independently, select and apply relevant theories and perspectives on resource governance in relation to a specific issue or thematic

• Analyse and reflect critically on the different perspectives and themes taken up in the course

• Discuss and communicate knowledge in language that is technically precise, well-structured and well-argued.

Exam code(s)
Exam code(s) : U60374
Last changed 06/03/2023

lecture list:

Show lessons for Subclass: 1 Find calendar (1) PDF for print (1)

Tuesday 14-02-2023 14:15 - 14-02-2023 16:00 in week 07
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Tuesday 28-02-2023 14:15 - 28-02-2023 16:00 in week 09
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Tuesday 07-03-2023 14:15 - 07-03-2023 16:00 in week 10
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Tuesday 14-03-2023 14:15 - 14-03-2023 16:00 in week 11
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Tuesday 21-03-2023 14:15 - 21-03-2023 16:00 in week 12
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Tuesday 28-03-2023 14:15 - 28-03-2023 16:00 in week 13
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Tuesday 11-04-2023 14:15 - 11-04-2023 16:00 in week 15
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Tuesday 25-04-2023 14:15 - 25-04-2023 16:00 in week 17
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Wednesday 26-04-2023 10:15 - 26-04-2023 12:00 in week 17
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Tuesday 02-05-2023 14:15 - 02-05-2023 16:00 in week 18
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Wednesday 03-05-2023 10:15 - 03-05-2023 12:00 in week 18
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Tuesday 16-05-2023 14:15 - 16-05-2023 16:00 in week 20
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Wednesday 17-05-2023 10:15 - 17-05-2023 12:00 in week 20
Natural Resources and Geopolitics (GDS)

Thursday 15-06-2023 10:00 - 15-06-2023 10:00 in week 24
Natural Resources and Geopolitics - Exam (GDS)

Wednesday 16-08-2023 10:00 - 16-08-2023 10:00 in week 33
Natural Resources and Geopolitics - Reexam (GDS)