PHIL249-24SU1 (D) Summer Jan 2024 start (Distance)

Environmental Ethics

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 8 January 2024
End Date: Sunday, 11 February 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 14 January 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 28 January 2024


Humanity faces threatening environmental problems, not least climate change. Can science, technology and free markets provide the solutions - or must we reconsider our values and priorities? Is nature inherently valuable? What should be protected for future generations? Do we have moral duties to non-human animals, including endangered species? PHIL249 examines recent philosophical responses to these and other questions in environmental ethics. This course is for students in Arts, Science, Engineering, Business and Law; no background in philosophy is required.

Environmental ethics is about exploring our relationship with the environment and the other living things that share it with us and what moral obligations, if any, we have toward them. This course tackles these issues in a way that is accessible to those who have no prior experience with philosophy. The course is broken down into five sections:

Week one: Introduction to ethics - here we introduce philosophy, moral theories, and explain how they relate to environmental ethics.

Week two: Moral considerability - here we consider who and what matters morally, including future people, non-human animals, and the environment more generally.

Week three: Environmental actions and obligation - here we discuss topics such as collective action problems, environmental justice, and mass extinction.

Week four: Climate change - you can't have an environmental ethics course without talking about climate change. In this week, we discuss climate change and the possible responses to it.

Week five: Guest speakers - here we bring in experts in a range of topics relating to the environment and environmental ethics.

Learning Outcomes

1. An understanding of ethical theories and how they relate to environmental ethics
2. An understanding of the major issues in environmental ethics.
3. Ability to critically assess environmental issues using ethical theories and evidence.
4. An appreciation and understanding of environmental issues globally and closer to home.
5. Skills in analysing and presenting reasoned arguments.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Employable, innovative and enterprising

Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

Engaged with the community

Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

Globally aware

Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 15 points at 100 level in PHIL, or
any 60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the BA or the BSc.

Recommended Preparation

15 points of 100 level Philosophy, or 30 points or more of humanities, social science, science, engineering, economics, or commerce studies and an interest in reflective critical debate.

Course Coordinator

Carolyn Mason


Dan McKay


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Essay 1 45% 1,500 - 1,600 words
Assignment 10% Short assignment - 500 words
Essay 2 45% 1,500 - 1,600 words

Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $844.00

International fee $3,950.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All PHIL249 Occurrences

  • PHIL249-24SU1 (C) Summer Jan 2024 start
  • PHIL249-24SU1 (D) Summer Jan 2024 start (Distance)