State, Environment and Crime


This Module is based on critically engaging with crimes and harm against the natural environment, generally referred to as ‘green crime’. It does so by focusing on competing theoretical tools that aim to discern issues pertinent to green crime and environmental harm. Theoretical propositions discussed will include: environmental risk, environmental rights and ecological justice, while in doing so the issues like climate change, land reform, and wildlife conservation, will be analyzed. Where appropriate case studies local to Scotland will be used in analytically engaging with these issues.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with an overview of the emerging, increasingly important and often competing criminological and sociological perspectives and frameworks regarding the issue of crimes and harms against the environment. It does so by discerning the ‘offence’ (what crimes and harms are inflicted on the environment, why and how); the ‘offenders’ (who commits the crime against the environment, and why); and, the ‘victims’ (who suffers as a result of environmental damage, and how).

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Critically outline and discuss the range of criminological and sociological perspectives on environmental hurt and crime.

2.  Understand why green crime is as important as other more traditional forms of crime.

3.  Understand the linkages between green crime and traditional forms of crime.

Indicative Content

1 Contextualizing green criminology

Here we will introduce the module and discuss traditional theoretical tools as regards Sociology and Criminology and their development as theoretical frameworks in understanding environmental crime and harm.

2 The risk society, the precariat and green harm crime

This lecture talks to the rise of the risk society and in association with this the idea of the precariat as a vulnerable class of global peoples.

3 Animal rights, species justice and animism

During this lecture, we discuss the rise of the ‘environmental paradigm’ as an all-embracing theoretical concept in helping us understand environmental harm and crime. Using the theoretical idea the ‘new-materialism’, non-human agency as regards animal rights and species justice will be explained in relation to contemporary environmental degradation

4 Ecological victims: confronting the effect of crimes and harms against the environment

This lecture looks at the developing concept of ‘green victimology’. Using concepts like poverty, class and gender, it will look at those affected by environmental crime and other environmentally damaging activities, and begin to outline the role of criminal justice in ameliorating these problems

5 The regulation of environmental harm: Environmental crime and governance

This lecture explores the extent to which law and governance contribute to the protection of the environment. In doing so the interlinked concepts of environmental governance and environmental law will be discussed and terms such as deliberative democracy will be introduced

6 Environmental citizenship and ecological justice as a green panacea

7 Wildlife crime and field sports: The case of wildlife hunting

This lecture looks at the case of wildlife crime in Scotland, exploring the management of parts of Scotland as grouse moors and the issue of stalking.

8 Land-Reform and environmental rights

This lecture looks at the topical issues of land-reform in Scotland and its embodiment of land rights in relation to environmental justice, as regards Scottish legislation.

9 Resource depletion, oil peak and the circular economy

In this lecture, we look at the harms caused by our continuing exploitation of oil, gas and other natural resources into the twenty-first century. And we will explore the idea of the circular economy in Scotland, as a policy aimed at addressing the environmental harms caused by resource exploitation.

10 Policing the environment: NGOs and environmental enforcers

Here the concept of the ‘green movement’ will be discussed and its role, especially that of NGOs, in regulating environmental crime and harm will be examined. In doing so, theoretical concepts such as ‘Regulation theory’, will be introduced.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Through a variety of teaching mechanisms, including lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops and a fieldtrip, students’ will be encouraged to think through the personal issues associated with environmental harm and crime in the twenty-first Century and helped to put these thoughts within the context of Sustainable Development, including restorative justice. This will be facilitated through two pieces of Coursework which orientate around two sections of the Module; the first being a theoretical piece on environmental harm or crime. This work will prepare students for the second half of the Module and the second Coursework – a reflexive piece on an environmental case study. This second piece of work aims to allow students’ to engage with their personal thoughts on issues discussed during a field-trip to a local environmental project which emphasis environmental harm, and how, if at all, these thoughts have been further shaped and mediated in discussion with stakeholders and lecturers on this project and related issues in the second half of the module. These discussions will take the form of seminars and workshops timetabled on a weekly bases through the second half of the Module. Both Coursework is designed around a reflexive approach to study, wherein students are encouraged to think through issues and problems germane to them but in doing so, elaborate on how these problems are illuminated through study, in this case, the interdisciplinary study of sustainability. In essence, the Coursework’s are orientated around acting locally but thinking globally as regards environmental justice.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 20
Supervised Practical Activity 8
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 45
Independent 103

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2019/20 , and may be subject to change for future years.