857-0103-00L  Topics in Public Policy: Governing the Energy Transition

SemesterAutumn Semester 2018
LecturersT. Schmidt, S. Sewerin
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentOnly for MA Comparative and International Studies.


851-0609-06 VGoverning the Energy Transition2 hrs
Thu17:15-19:00IFW B 42 »
17:15-19:00IFW C 42 »
22.11.17:15-19:00IFW D 42 »
T. Schmidt, S. Sewerin
857-0103-00 STopics in Public Policy: Governing the Energy Transition2 hrsS. Sewerin, T. Schmidt

Catalogue data

AbstractThis course addresses the role of policy and its underlying politics in the transformation of the energy sector. It covers historical, socio-economic, and political perspectives and applies various theoretical concepts to specific aspects of governing the energy transition. On this basis, students develop their own research project and produce a research paper.
Objective- To gain an overview of the history of the transition of large technical systems
- To recognize current challenges in the energy system to understand the theoretical frameworks and concepts for studying transitions
- To demonstrate knowledge on the role of policy and politics in energy transitions
- To develop own research question and address it in research paper
ContentClimate change, access to energy and other societal challenges are directly linked to the way we use and create energy. Both the recent United Nations Paris climate change agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals make a fast and extensive transition of the energy system necessary.
This course introduces the social and environmental challenges involved in the energy sector and discusses the implications of these challenges for the rate and direction of technical change in the energy sector. It compares the current situation with historical socio-technical transitions and derives the consequences for policy-making. It then introduces theoretical frameworks and concepts for studying innovation and transitions. It then focuses on the role of public policy and policy change in governing the energy transitions, considering the role of political actors, institutions and policy feedback.
The course has a highly interactive (seminar-like) character. Students are expected to actively engage in the weekly discussions and to give a presentation (15-20 minutes) on one of the weekly topics during that particular session. In addition to weekly lectures and student presentations, students will write a research paper of approximately 6000 words.
The presentation and participation in the discussions will form one part of the final grade (20%), the final exam another (20%), with the research paper forming the rest (60%).
Lecture notesSlides and reading material will be made available via moodle.ethz.ch (only for registered students).
LiteratureA reading list will be provided via moodle.ethz.ch at the beginning of the semester.
Prerequisites / NoticeThis course is intended for the MA Comparative International Studies programme.

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits8 credits
ExaminersT. Schmidt, S. Sewerin
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition only possible after re-enrolling for the course unit.

Learning materials

No public learning materials available.
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


PriorityRegistration for the course unit is only possible for the primary target group
Primary target groupComparative and International Studies MA (863100)

Offered in

Comparative and International Studies MasterResearch SeminarsWInformation