Consumption, political economy and sustainability

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Sunday 15 January 2023
Friday 24 March 2023
21 October 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA NP5312 Advertising, Marketing and the Media,
MA NP53MO Advertising, Marketing and the Media

Module description

Does shopping change the world? Can you make a difference by choosing more sustainable options as a consumer? These are key questions that you will be able to answer after completing this module. The consumer has been drawn into the centre of public debates about the regulation of markets and the promotion of social, environmental and political goals.

This module examines the systems through which many of the everyday goods you enjoy are produced, circulated and consumed. Key to your learning on the course is the question of what sustainable consumption is and how it can be motivated. The course tackles examples of different sustainability initiatives – from Fairtrade, to recycling, and alternative food networks so that by the end of the course, you will have the tools to critically evaluate the possibilities and complexities of transitioning towards a more sustainable market.

Module aims

* To explore the economic processes that lie behind the circulation and consumption of goods and services
* To develop an awareness of the connections between consumer behaviour and debates about sustainability
* To examine and critically reflect upon the ways sustainability concerns are communicated to consumers and acted upon by different groups and organisations within society
* To consider possibilities of sustainability transitions
* To develop student's communication and critical appraisal skills

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

1. apply theoretical concepts to the study of consumption, political economy and sustainability
2. critically evaluate the possibilities and complexities of transitioning towards a more sustainable market
3. communicate their ideas about consumption and sustainability to a range of different audiences
4. engage constructively and reflexively in debate with their peers
5. appraise and develop practical and creative strategies for promoting sustainable consumption

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Most modules at postgraduate level in Sociology are taught as a 2hr seminar. Most classes, labs and seminars will be taught face-to-face (assuming social distancing allows this). There may also be some online activities – either timetabled as a live online session or available on Moodle in the form of pre-recorded videos. You will be expected to watch this material and engage with any suggested activities before your seminar/class each week. Please note that you should be spending up to ten hours per week undertaking your own private study (reading, preparing for classes or assignments, etc.) on each of your modules (e.g. 30 hours in total for three 20--credit modules). You are strongly encouraged to attend the classes/seminars as they provide an opportunity to talk with your class teacher and other students. The classes/seminars will be captured and available via Listen Again. However, if you want to gain the most you can from these seminars/classes it is very important that you attend and engage. Please note that the recording of seminars/classes is at the discretion of the teacher. The teaching on this module [SC507] will comprise of a weekly 2-hour seminar, supported by an interactive Moodle site. There will be some pre-recorded materials online that you should look at before the seminars each week. The online materials will introduce you to the topic for the week. The seminars will provide a broad overview of the substantive debates around the topic of the week, and will give you the opportunity to reflect on your learning and actively engage with your peers to develop your understanding further. The seminars will be student led. Each week there is a different module reading, and every student is expected to volunteer to present one of the readings to engage their peers in a group discussion. Presentations should be around 10 minutes long and should pose questions that can then be explored in more detail as a group.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Peer review blogging activity - first deadline to submit to Moodle     30% 
Coursework   Peer review blogging activity - final FASER deadline  10/03/2023  10% 
Coursework   Essay, 3,000 word  08/05/2023  60% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Katy Wheeler, email:
Dr Katy Wheeler



External examiner

Dr Umut Erel
Open University
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 18 hours, 18 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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