Undergraduate Module Descriptor

POL3255: Deliberating the Environmental Emergency: The Citizens' Assembly

This module descriptor refers to the 2021/2 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics.

In Term 1 students will be provided with the necessary background to participate in the Citizens’ Assembly, which will be run in Term 2.

Term 1

Lectures in Term 1 will be delivered in part by the module convenors and in part by other academics as well as policy practitioners and/ or stakeholders across a range of different disciplines and sectors (e.g. responsible investing organisations, agricultural policy experts, farmers, activists). Topics covered will include:


Part 1 (weeks 1-6): Framing the environmental crisis:

  • The science of climate change: mechanisms, causes & consequences
  • Biodiversity loss: mechanisms, causes & consequences
  • Unpacking systemic causes: The economic foundations of the environmental crisis
  • Levels of action and obstacles to change: A framework of analysis
  • The environmental policy process/ policy instruments for addressing the environmental crisis

Part 2 (weeks 7-11): Sector specific issues – 1 hour guest lectures followed by seminar style discussion

  • Energy and its uses
  • Transport
  • Food
  • Infrastructure and building
  • Consumption and production

Term 2

In Term 2, the first few sessions will explore the contribution that Democratic Innovations and Citizen Assemblies especially can make to the environmental emergency debate. Students will participate in such an Assembly over five weeks of class in the second half of term and make policy recommendations to handle the environmental emergency in specific sectors building on the knowledge acquired in Term 1. Sessions will include:


Part 3 (weeks 1-4): The politics of the environmental emergency

  • Building political momentum: The emergence of a climate agenda
  • The theory and practice of deliberation: Contribution and limits
  • Democratic innovations in practice: The role of citizen assemblies in the climate emergency

Part 4 (weeks 5-11): Running the Citizens Assembly

  • Recap and weekly deliberation on each of the sector specific topics introduced in term 1
  • Synthesis and recommendations, voting for policy options
  • Evaluation and reflection on the process

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities4422 x 2 hours per week, which includes lectures, seminars and Citizens’ Assembly participation
Guided independent study136Reading
Guided independent study50Writing the essay outline and essay
Guided independent study20Reflective Log writing
Guided independent study50Citizens’ Assembly Analytical Report

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).