Geopolitics of the Energy Transition (MEE200)

The course Geopolitics of the Energy Transition will explore both how the use and struggles for access and control of energy determine the international system. Vice versa, the course asks how the structure of the international system determines energy policy, energy use, and internal development of nations. To open the view on these issues, the role of energy in power politics, diplomacy, and economic interdependence will be studied. The central question in that regard is whether the energy transition can change geopolitics towards more peaceful and just relations.

The course provides knowledge relevant to achieving SDG7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and SDG13 (Climate Action). Starting with global institutions and governance, insights are provided that are conducive to SDG17 (Partnership for the Goals). In addition, the course provides knowledge and skills relevant to achieving SDG1 (No Poverty).

This course is connected to an ECIU micro module on ‘Energy Innovation Across the Globe’.

Course description for study year 2024-2025. Please note that changes may occur.


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start


Number of semesters


Exam semester


Language of instruction



The shift to renewables is at the center of the course, but innovative energy technologies are also included. To develop an understanding of energy in international politics, the course draws on theories such as neo-realism, neo-liberalism and transnationalism. Moreover, energy security concepts are used to illuminate the motives of individual states. Some background information on the framework conditions under which the transition is taking place will be studied. This includes knowledge about global governance institutions and industrial policy. The discussion covers different geographies and actors, including information on different cases in a variety of geographical areas (e.g. Africa, the Artic) and countries (e.g. Norway, Poland). Additionally, several international organizations and institution are included, e.g. the United Nations, IRENA, and the World Bank.

Geopolitics is not a unified concept and represents a blend of knowledge related to disciplines such as Political Science, International Relations, and Economics. To study this complex subject, a significant amount of historical knowledge will be presented. In that regard, the course follows Vaclav Smil who describes energy as the universal currency of our planet, a fundamental prerequisite of economic processes. Given the relatively high energy density of fossil fuels, the use of carbon-based primary energy has greatly expanded the economy of those countries that possess the technology necessary for its extraction and conversion. Paradoxically, however, the rapid growth that came with the use of fossil and later nuclear energy soon also revealed its downsides. Not only did the environmental impact of human activity grow, the switch to energy-dense fuels also intensified power struggles between nations. Green energy seems to break with this pattern. In this course we study where this leaves us in terms of geopolitics.

Learning outcome

Upon completing the course, the students will have the following knowledge, skills and competencies:

In terms of knowledge, students will have thorough knowledge into the following areas:

  • International politics and state actions
  • International relations theory and geopolitics
  • Renewable energy in international politics
  • Energy politics and policy in different geographical areas
  • Energy security and the energy transition
  • Global governance and the energy transition

In terms of skills, students should be able to achieve the following:

  • Identify and describe geopolitically significant issues
  • Explain theoretical concepts related to the geopolitics of energy
  • Critically analyse cases through the application of various theoretical perspectives and methods
  • Address various challenges of global energy governance
  • Evaluate the prospects of the energy transition
  • Discuss trajectories and negotiating actions

In terms of general competencies, students should be able to:

  • Understand the energy transition in the international system
  • Actively take part in discussions about international energy politics
  • Apply complex knowledge such as historical and economic facts
  • Communicate international challenges associated with the energy transition
  • Write statements about international energy politics
  • Collaborat with others through effective written and oral presentations

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended prerequisites

Knowledge about international politics, history, and economics.


Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Home exam 1/1 3 Days Letter grades

The home exam consists of one essay answering a given question.

Coursework requirements

Mandatory assignments
One individually written essay and an oral presentation.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Thomas Michael Sattich

Method of work

Course activities include lectures, guest lectures, and seminars. The latter include the use of an online learning tool about the geopolitics of renewables ( Moreover, the seminars aim at strengthening the skills necessary for studying the international aspects of the energy transition. Additionally, discussions and written assignments are also important parts of the course activities.

Open for

Energy, Environment and Society - Master's Degree Programme Change Management - Master's Degree Programme Societal Safety - Master's Degree Programme
Exchange programmes at UIS Business School
Exchange programme at Faculty of Social Sciences

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course supervisor, the student union representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital subject evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


Search for literature in Leganto