Sustainability and Environmental Ethics

Subject PHIL90029 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Jul-2015 to 25-Oct-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Nov-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 07-Aug-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 25-Sep-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2 hour seminar each week for 12 weeks
Total Time Commitment:

170 Hours


Admission into the Master of Arts in Professional and Applied Ethics or MC-IR Masters in International Relations or another Masters by Coursework programme at the University of Melbourne with coordinator approval.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:


Mr Sagar Sanyal


Christopher Cordner

Subject Overview:

The impact of human beings on the environment is naturally a cause for moral concern. This subject will aim to establish the motivations for this concern and explore its many implications. Do non-human animals and the biosphere have non-instrumental value? How exactly should we understand our moral obligations to future people? And how should the costs of reducing anthropogenic climate change be distributed? In addition, this subject will examine the obstacles encountered in devising environmental policy. For example, which industrial interests stand in the way of progressive change and in what way should policy making be wary of this? To address climate change, is it necessary to radically reform economies and redesign cities, and what ethical concerns become salient when doing so?

Learning Outcomes:

Students who complete this subject will:

  • Understand philosophical treatments of our moral obligations to preserve the environment
  • Understand important conceptual distinctions between different ways in which the environment has value.
  • Appreciate the difficulties associated with weighing environmental obligations against competing obligations and permissions.
  • Understand the moral significance of the difference between individual and collective action.
  • Be able to critically assess proposals for realising sustainability and environmental protection when formulating public policy.

A 1,000 word critical review of a week’s readings, 20% (due at the end of week 3) and a 4,000 word research essay, 80% (due during the examination period).

Hurdle Requirement: Students are required to attend a minimum of 75% of classes in order to pass this subject. Regular participation in class is required. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per working day. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Prescribed Texts:

Subject readings will be available online

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point Master of Arts in Professional and Applied Ethics
100 Point Master of International Relations
100 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
150 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
200 Point Master of International Relations
200 Point Master of Public Policy and Management
200 points Master of Arts in Professional and Applied Ethics
International Justice

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