Political Science (POLI) 325

Canadian Environmental Policy and Politics (Revision 4)

POLI 325 course cover

View previous version

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Political Science home page

POLI 325 has a Challenge for Credit option.

check availability


This course examines how the environmental policy process in Canada works. In the course, students will become familiar with Canadian environmental organizations and government structures, the courts’ interpretation of environmental legislation, and the historic development of, and changes associated with, the environmental movement in Canada and in North America.

The course will identify and evaluate some of the environmental-policy tools that governments have used, or might use in the future. These policy tools include regulation, environmental assessment, and mediation (multi-stakeholder discussions and bargaining) as well as market-based tools such as environmental taxes and user fees, green products, environmental subsidies (to recycling, for example), and subsidy removals (from extractive industries or energy-inefficient modes of transportation, for example).

The study of environmental policy will also help students to understand the policy-making process as a whole—that is, how governments make decisions. Political Science 325 situates environmental policy within selected, real-world examples of environmental decision making in Canada. It also considers some of the connections between environmental protection and issues such as urban planning, employment, and social equity, which governments must resolve or oversee in some way. There are close connections between environmental protection and each of these concerns. For example, urban planning virtually determines transportation patterns and systems, which, in turn, affect such things as air quality and habitat protection.


Political Science 325: Canadian Environmental Policy and Politics is organized into seventeen units divided into seven parts:

Part I: Environmental Values

  • Unit 1: An Introduction to Environmental Values, Policy, and Politics
  • Unit 2: Environment and the Law in a Federal System

Part II: The Environment and Legal Systems at Various Levels

  • Unit 3: Canada’s Judicial System
  • Unit 4: Aboriginal Law and the Environment
  • Unit 5: Political Parties, Political Movements, and Public and Special Interest Groups
  • Unit 6: Environmental Law in the Global Context

Part III: Environmental Policy and Its Tools

  • Unit 7: Private and Public Law
  • Unit 8: Environmental-Policy Tools: Persuasive, Regulatory, and Coercive
  • Unit 9: Market-Based Environmental-Policy Tools

Part IV: Specific Environmental Issues

  • Unit 10: The Tar Sands and Climate Change
  • Unit 11: Water Quality, Agriculture, and Aquaculture

Part V: Environmental Assessment and Other Tools of Analysis

  • Unit 12: Environmental Assessment, Life-Cycle Analysis, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and other Sustainability Indicators

Part VI: Crown Lands and Urban Planning

  • Unit 13: Crown Lands and the Species at Risk Act
  • Unit 14: Urban Planning

Part VII: Protecting Environmental Rights

  • Unit 15: Using the Courts
  • Unit 16: Administrative Decision-Making Processes
  • Unit 17: Environmental Rights in Canada


To receive credit for POLI 325, you must complete all of the assignments, and achieve a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent) and a grade of at least 50 percent on the final examination.

Assignment Weight
Internet Research Assignment 20%
Mid-Term Assignment 20%
Research Essay 25%
Final Exam 35%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Muldoon, P., et al. (2015). An introduction to environmental law and policy in Canada (2nd ed.). Toronto: Emond Montgomery Publications.

Other Materials

All other course materials are available online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the POLI 325 challenge registration, you must achieve an overall grade of at least D (50 percent) on the challenge examination.

Assignment Weight
Challenge Exam 100%
Total 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, June 6, 2018.

View previous syllabus