Governing Energy Transitions (MEE210)

The course Governing Energy Transitions uses the ‘solar turn’ in energy transition as an entry point to understand the conjuncture of institutional, relational, and material change. Varying spatial and scalar configurations of solar uptake are unpacked and analysed (a) in relation to the diverse effects they imply within particular political economic contexts, and (b) the insights they provide about these contexts.

Students discuss different conceptual and analytical approaches to apprehend the relationship between energy and society, and problematise the nature of participation, engagement, and decision-making in energy transitions.

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


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The course is organised as three modules during the spring semester and a final meeting for reflection. The first module focusses on theorising the ‘solar turn’ in energy transition through three constituent changes: institutional, relational, and material. Students must draw on course texts and are encouraged to identify additional pertinent literature. Particular emphasis is laid on historical institutional energy sector structures, the evolution of energy infrastructure, and changing social imaginaries of energy transitions over time and also across the spatial scale. This module aims to equip students with a basic but holistic appreciation of the structural, relational, and material context of solar energy.

The second module requires each student to pick a context within which to map the drivers and inhibitors of solar energy uptake, mobilising the vectors of change covered in the first module. Students undertake a mapping of the political economy of solar uptake in their context of choice, building a customised list of readings and conducting desk-based research on policy trends, media coverage, public discourse, and socio-technical aspects. This feeds into the mandatory oral presentation delivered to peers and discussed in the classroom.

The third module introduces prominent analytical frameworks from energy transitions research, as well as an accountability analysis approach developed by the course coordinator. The necessity of interdisciplinarity and bridging between environmental humanities and social science frameworks on energy governance is a key topic for discussion. Students are challenged to come up with their own synthesised approaches to analyse energy transitions, in productive tension with the proposition that energy transitions require resolving accountability crises that characterise most energy sectors.

Learning outcome

Course participants will gain the following new knowledge, skills, and general competencies:


  • A deeper understanding of scholarly literature on energy transitions governance.
  • Explication of the relationship between accountability, governance, and energy transitions.
  • An understanding of the scope for and challenge of generating actionable knowledge.


  • Application of state-of-the-art theoretical and analytical frameworks to a specific energy transition.
  • A refined approach to crafting a robust argument on a practical theme anchored in scholarly literature.

General competencies

  • The ability to make a formal oral presentation and engage in structured discussion on debates.
  • Facilitated experience in applying research insights to a real-world problem in an independent process.

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended prerequisites

MEE100 Societal Transition and Transformation - Energy and Climate Change


Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Term paper 1/1 Letter grades

Students are graded on a 3,000 word term paper on a topic of their choice within the course theme of energy transitions governance. The paper is developed throughout the course with both oral and written feedback. Submission date is at the end of the course, and exact date will be announced on Canvas. The course will balance the delivery of substantive content on governing energy transitions with training on how to construct a robust written argument anchored in this thematic literature and explain it to peers. Detailed instructions for the tasks are shared in classroom sessions and via Canvas.

Coursework requirements

Draft/essay outline, Two peer reviews of essay outlines, An oral presentation

There are several mandatory assignments to be delivered and passed during the course:

• Draft/essay outline, 1,000 words

• Two peer reviews of essay outlines, 500 words each

• An oral presentation based on the essay outline and feedback, followed by a short discussion

All information will be given in Canvas.

Active classroom participation in all modules is expected. Most classroom sessions do not clash with other M-EES courses on offer during the spring semester.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Siddharth Sareen

Head of Department:

Oluf Langhelle

Method of work

Classroom sessions will take a knowledge co-production approach and embody research-based teaching, while the workshops will be classroom discussion based on course texts and participants' drafts/outlines and presentations. The course coordinator will ease participants' engagement with course texts but expect participants to contribute perspectives based on detailed reading ahead of the sessions.

The course aims to address two aspects of student learning through an innovative approach:

(i) Deeper substantive engagement with the scholarly literature on energy transitions governance. This is ensured through classroom discussions and composing an individual long-form thematic essay, with inputs from the course coordinator on state-of-the-art thematic debates and frameworks.

(ii) The ability to craft a robust argument and relate it to wider scholarship. This is addressed through oral presentations by students in the classroom and discussion with peers grounded in thematic scholarship.

Open for

Digital Society and Societal Transformations - Master's Degree Programme Energy, Environment and Society - Master's Degree Programme

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.


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