SOC-30049 - Consuming Nature
Coordinator: Lydia D Martens Room: CBC0.018 Tel: +44 1782 7 34125
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2021/22


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2021/22

Environmental decline is one of the most urgent of global societal challenges requiring urgent action. Keele University has been at the forefront of addressing, what it now acknowledges as a climate crisis, through education and research. Consuming Nature offers students an opportunity to explore what sociological ways of thinking, through its foregrounding of social and more-than-human relations, can contribute towards debate on environmental decline and how environmental problems can be addressed.
The module will develop your skills in three crucial ways:
1) We will engage you in research and discussion about the sociological tools of the trade (theoretical and substantive) that are useful for understanding the challenges of the way nature has become totally 'consumed up' in a relatively short period of time.
2) The module is set up to develop your group working skills. Addressing 'wicked' challenges like environmental decline demand effective collaboration, and during this module, you will work in small groups on problem areas that are self-selected and that reflect your mutual interests.

3) Finally, you will work together on the problem of practical suggestions for intervention and change. One of the ways we will do this is to research how 'intervention' is done by civil society organisations and in environmental policies.

Through a focus on the consumption of nature, and working through themes of pollution and resource use, everyday practices, and the consumption of nature, this module aims to explore sociological approaches to understanding environmental decline. And by asking the question how sociological insights can be used to develop solutions, it further aims to engage students in work that moves from understanding to intervention.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Demonstrate the ability to apply a critical and questioning approach to the sociologies of consumption, nature, human-animal relations and environmental decline: 1
Demonstrate an understanding that environmental decline is both an outcome of, and is embedded in, complex social, cultural, economic, technological and political relations that have very real, yet complex intersecting consequences: 1
Describe, using relevant empirical examples and evidence alongside sociological analysis, the intricacies of environmental decline, the consumption of nature, and human-animal relations: 1
Analyse and clearly formulate different sociological perspectives of social, cultural, technological and economic change, in relation to the consumption of nature, and to use these in analyses of environmental decline and in proposals for intervention and solutions: 1
Sociologically analyse selected examples of the problems of consuming nature, human-animal relations, and environmental decline, and to develop applied sociological proposals for solving these problems: 1

Study hours

18 contact hours (6 x three-hour workshops)
2 hours consultation time
40 hours independent study and workshop preparation time
40 hours group work time
50 hours assessment preparation

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Paper weighted 100%
One 3000-word blog post paper
Students write a 3000-word paper in the form of a blog post, in which they outline a sociological analysis of a selected problem area, followed by a proposal for an intervention or solution.