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The Politics of Energy: Power, Profit and the Green Transition


Admission requirements

This course is available for students of the Honours College Humanities Lab.
Students in the first year of their bachelor’s programme who achieve good academic results and are very motivated, may apply for a place in Humanities Lab.


This course, The Politics of Energy: Power, Profit and the Green Transition, focuses on the intersection of geopolitics, climate change, energy-driven conflicts, and the ongoing energy transition. First, the concept of geopolitics and the role played in it by energy resources will be examined. We will then proceed to explore the key drivers behind the current energy transition, as well as the potential opportunities and obstacles. Furthermore, an emphasis will be placed on the challenges created by energy conflicts as well as those faced by energy producing states in light of the current geopolitical environment.

The course will follow the current preliminary format:
Session 1: Geopolitics and the Role of Energy: views from Russia, China, the United States and the Middle East
Session 2: The New Green Transition: Necessities, Opportunities, Risks and Alternatives
Session 3: Energy Conflicts and a Diplomatic Simulation on Geopolitics in the Eastern Mediterranean
Session 4: Visit to an Embassy of a Major Energy Producer and a Lecture on Eurasian Energy Security by the Ambassador
Session 5: Energy Relations in Practice: A History of Russian-Ukrainian Energy Bilateral Affairs, From the End of the Soviet Union until the Present Day
Session 6: The Future of European Energy Conference

Course objectives

The primary objective is to analyze ideas, concepts and texts in international energy politics (both older and more contemporary) in their historical context;

The secondary objective is learn to think critically about alternative ways of explaining, understanding and judging international energy politics;

The third objective is to acquire skills in verbal communication and presentation, teamwork and flexibility, expository and analytical writing, and independent research.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Humanities Lab courses are usually scheduled on Friday afternoon from 13.30 to 17h.

Mode of instruction

Seminar, Lectures and Student Presentations.

Assessment method


  • Class Participation and in-class group activities: 20%

  • Energy Conflict Brief: 30%

  • Energy Conference Presentation: 50%

Students are fully expected to actively participate in the class discussion and to contribute their own ideas to it. Effective and active participation is key to grasping and analyzing the plethora of interacting and simultaneously intersecting factors and themes that will be presented throughout the course.

Energy Conflict Policy Brief:
The written component requires the submission of a policy brief which explores and analyzes an armed conflict where competition over energy and energy-related minerals has played a key role. Five key matters need to be covered:
1) Historical Background of the Conflict
2) Role of Energy Resources in the Conflict
3) Participants of the Conflict and their Goals
4) Role and Impact of Outside Powers and International Organizations
5) Resolution of Conflict, or if ongoing, how it should be resolved in your opinion.
The length of the policy paper should be approximately 1200 words +/- 10% and it will be due before the beginning of the fifth class.

Final Assessment:
The Final Assessment will be a model conference simulating a hearing in front of the European Commission. Students will be expected to act as lobbyists for a particular energy industry and they will argue for why their industry should be favored and incentivized as a part of the EU’s long term energy strategy. Students will be assigned an industry from a pool which includes coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, solar and wind. In addition to emphasizing the benefits of their given industry, students will also have to describe the drawbacks, particularly in the long run. These may be financial, environmental, geopolitical or of a completely different nature. The goal of this assessment is to encourage creativity, critical analysis and an appreciation of the pivotal challenges that policymakers must contend with.

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of these three components.


As shown above


Attendance is compulsory for all meetings (lectures, seminars, excursions, etc.). If you are unable to attend, notify the lecturer (listed in the information bar on the right) in advance. Being absent may result in lower grades or exclusion from the course.


  • A re-sit option is offered only for the final presentation assignment in case of a failing grade or a valid medical excuse. The presentation will be given later at an agreed time and will follow the same guidelines as the assignment that was to be performed during the normally scheduled class time. Retaking a passing grade is not possible for this course.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

In this course, we draw on a broad array of readings to understand the empirical and normative challenges posed by global energy politics. The readings will be provided by the lecturer on Brightspace and are designed to be manageable. This is because we will be discussing each assigned text in detail during class. I therefore expect that you carefully read all assignments for each session.


Students participating in this module will be enrolled in MyStudymap by the Education Administration Office of Humanities Lab. Students can register for the Humanities Lab modules about two to three weeks before the start of the module through an online form provided by Umail. On this form students indicate the modules in order of their preference. The coordinators assign students to a module based on their preference and bachelor’s programme, in order to create a diverse group of students and equal amount of students per module Usually students get assigned to the module of their first or second choice.
General information about MyStudymap is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


This course is part of the Humanities Lab programme, visit the website for more information.

Visit the Honours Academy website for more information about the Honours College.