Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit both introduces contemporary case studies from around the world, and looks at what part energy transitions, shifting modes of subsistence, and environmental changes have played in the human story, over millions of years. It does so in order to address what are the greatest challenges facing contemporary human societies: how to undertake wholesale energy transitions, and to develop sustainable food systems, in a context of climate emergency. Drawing on literature from across environmental and economic anthropology, it will examine how these challenges might be met, through re-imagining our ‘cultures of energy', by developing new modes of production, and by re-organising relations with our ‘discards' (i.e. rubbish) and, ultimately, by rethinking the very form of human connections with other parts of the living world (land, crops, fish, animals, bacteria and viruses). Climate change will force human societies to adapt, in ways that will generate new kinds of human sociality, and will require new modes of multi-species relations. This unit will give students the tools necessary not only for navigating, but for pro-actively influencing, how those changes will unfold for the generations ahead.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 1AlbanyFace to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Anthropology major sequence
  • Level 2 option in the Environmental Geography and Planning; Social and Environmental Sustainability major sequences
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of what part energy transitions, shifting modes of subsistence, and environmental changes, have played in the human story; (2) gain a critical understanding of how comparative perspectives may help us to better prepare for a future energy transition, and to develop more sustainable food systems; (3) critically analyse and evaluate key concepts and theories in: the anthropology of energy, inter-disciplinary discard studies, and multi-species ethnography; and (4) develop key research skills for modelling future human societies.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) online quiz; (2) short essay; and (3) case study essay. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Richard Vokes
Unit rules
Successful completion of
level 1 24 points Unit(s)
Contact hours
3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.