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BA Geography / Course details
Year of entry: 2021
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Course unit details:
Climate Change: Science and Society
|Unit level||Level 2|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Available as a free choice unit?||Yes|
This unit introduces social and natural scientific approaches to understanding the phenomenon of anthropogenic climate change and its possible solutions. It begins with an overview of the physical science basis for climate change, including gradual changes over time as well as more abrupt changes and climate tipping points. It will outline the physical impacts threatened by climate change, and how human and natural systems might adapt to them. It then examines climate change mitigation strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including setting targets, transforming energy supply and demand, decarbonising different sectors, and exploring alternative low carbon pathways. It concludes with an examination of new, unconventional solutions to climate change including negative emissions technologies for removing greenhouse gases directly from the atmosphere, natural and nature-based solutions and solar geoengineering technologies for reflecting sunlight away from the Earth. The unit emphasises the importance of interdisciplinarity in understanding and responding to this complex and uncertain problem, and the special place for geography in facilitating this learning.
- To introduce the physical science basis for gradual and abrupt climate change
- To examine the impacts of climate change and solutions for adaptation
- To examine mitigation solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- To examine unconventional technological and nature-based solutions
Teaching and learning methods
The unit is delivered through weekly two-hour interaction lecture sessions including discussions, debates and practical exercises. The lecture sessions will be supported by weekly one-hour seminars. A high level of student participation is required from all students throughout the unit. Reading prior to the lectures is required and additional reading around the themes of the lectures is expected.
The course is supported by a dedicated Blackboard site. This offers a variety of online resources including a repository of the lecture notes used in class, a course syllabus, any other forms of course-specific materials as well as a discussion forum.
Knowledge and understanding
- Understand the fundamental physical science of gradual and abrupt climate changes
- Understand climate change impacts and adaptation solutions
- Understand mitigation solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across different sectors
- Understand unconventional technological and nature-based solutions
- Evaluate different adaptation solutions
- Evaluate mitigation solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across different sectors
- Evaluate unconventional technological and nature-based solutions
- Skills in discussion and debate
- Experience with practical research methods, including carbon accounting, multi-criteria analysis and psychometrics
- Synthesise research evidence for use in decision making
Transferable skills and personal qualities
- Critical thinking, reflection and self-awareness
- Taking responsibility for self-directed learning
- Information handling skills, utilising materials from a variety of source
- An ability to assess the merits of contrasting theories, explanations and their policy implications
|Written assignment (inc essay)||50%|
Feedback is provided in the following ways during this course unit:
- extensive verbal feedback through Q&A, discussion and interactive activities within lectures and seminars;
- verbal feedback on any course unit issue through consultation hours;
- detailed written feedback on the coursework assignment.
Blackstock, J. and Low, S. (2018): Geoengineering Our Climate: Ethics, Politics and Governance. Routledge: Oxon, UK.
Hulme, M (2019): Contemporary Climate Change Debates: A Student Primer. Routledge: Oxon, UK.
IPCC (2018): Global Warming of 1.5°C. World Meteorological Organization: Geneva, Switzerland.
Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering (2018): Greenhouse gas removal. Available at https://royalsociety.org/-/media/policy/projects/greenhouse-gas-removal/royal-society-greenhouse-gas-removal-report-2018.pdf
IPCC Fifth Assessment (AR5) reports, synthesised in IPCC (2014): Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)]. IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland.
Environmental Research Letters
Environmental Science & Policy
Frontiers in Climate
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Global Environmental Change
Public Understanding of Science
Nature Climate Change
Science, Technology and Human Values
WIREs Climate Change
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Independent study hours|
|Gareth Clay||Unit coordinator|