Skip to main content

AL2195 Sustainable Development in Developing Countries 7.5 credits

The course develops a critical framework for understanding uneven development including social justice and environmental change with a special focus on the rapid urbanisation of the global South. The course is fundamental for further studies in critical environmental research, sustainable development, and development studies.

In the course we develop a theoretical framework based on three key concepts: uneven development, "thinking from the South," and political ecology. Political ecology emphasises how development requires social and environmental transformation that shape rural and urban landscapes and creates winners and loosers. In parallel, we draw upon postcolonial thought to challenge from where development, sustainability and urbanization can be understood. This expands the places, experiences and researchers that can inform development theory and practice.

Pedagogically, the course is based on creating a community of inquiry between students and the teacher. Lectures are followed by group work as well as seminars and individual consultation hours. This creates a learning environment where it is safe to both ask and try to answer difficult questions. Group work means to do a case study analysis of a city in the South (Kampala, Lagos, Luanda, Bangalore, etc.), applying theory to understand complex realities and sharing your insights. You will also train essay writing with peer and teacher feedback to support your growth as a writer and thinker.

Choose semester and course offering

Choose semester and course offering to see information from the correct course syllabus and course offering.

Headings with content from the Course syllabus AL2195 (Autumn 2022–) are denoted with an asterisk ( )

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents

The course deals with sustainable development with a focus on countries in the global South and especially cities and countries in sub-Saharan Africa, their current situation and future development. Current social and technological developments are understood in the light of historical and geographical factors, including colonial and post-colonial structures. Infrastructure, technology and socio-ecological factors are discussed and the course develops an understanding of their connection with poverty reduction, natural resources, economy, business opportunities and social justice.

Intended learning outcomes

The overall goal of the course is to provide an in-depth insight into how the world's historically and geographically unequal development affects opportunities for a more fair and environmentally sustainable development. After completing the course, the student should be able to:

- Provide a historical and geographical background to the concept of uneven development and its relation to sustainable development.

- Describe the emergence of regional differences (social, economic and ecological) with a focus on countries in the global South.

- In a written essay and based on scientific literature, analyze and discuss how infrastructure and technology affect various aspects of sustainable development in low- and middle-income countries.

- Discuss scientific methods for analysis of social, ecological and technical aspects for sustainable development with a focus on countries in the global South.

- To develop in groups a critical case study on the conditions for uneven development and sustainable development.

- Search for scientific literature within the course's subject area to use as reference material in an essay.

- Give an oral presentation in a group of a case study.

Course disposition

No information inserted

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites


Others: Open for programme students at KTH with at least 120 ECTS or a Bachelor degree for other students

Courses from Upper Secondary School corresponding to the courses Eng B/6 according to the Swedish upper secondary school system

Recommended prerequisites

No information inserted


No information inserted


Scientific articles presented on the course webpage

Examination and completion

If the course is discontinued, students may request to be examined during the following two academic years.

Grading scale

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F


  • INL2 - Peer-review of UPP1, 0.5 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • PRO4 - Group project with presentation, 2.5 credits, grading scale: P, F
  • UPP1 - Short critical reflection on self-selected articles, 1.5 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • UPP2 - Essay, 3.0 credits, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Other requirements for final grade

Graded A-F

The final grade is calculated together with the grade in each component that is weighted in relation to the points that the components contribute.

All examined parts should be passed in order to get a final grade

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

No information inserted

Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

No information inserted


Profile picture Henrik Ernstson

Ethical approach

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web AL2195

Offered by

ABE/Sustainability and Environmental Engineering

Main field of study

Environmental Engineering

Education cycle

Second cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted

Transitional regulations

Students who have not completed a course with previous rules are asked to contact the examiner for the course to find a suitable form of examination.