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BSc Zoology with Industrial/Professional Experience / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Living with Climate Change (L)

Unit code BIOL31541
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Global climate change presents a wide range of impacts and challenges for the organisms that live on this earth. This unit will explore the challenges and uncertainties climate change presents in terms of its potential impacts on living systems and organisms; from vector-borne diseases, to food security and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Each week the course will cover a different aspect of climate change and its impact on plants, animals and ecosystems delivered by experts in their field. It will also explore how climate science information in portrayed in the media and the issues around misinformation, complexity, uncertainty and risk.




Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Ecology & Ecosystems BIOL21211 Pre-Requisite Recommended


Anthropogenic global climate change presents a wide range of impacts and challenges for the organisms that live on this earth. This unit will explore the impact of climate change on organisms, in both terrestrial and aquatic systems. Students will develop the ability to process information from scientific papers, reports, the web & the media, in the field of climate change. This unit will encourage independent thinking and an analytical approach to these environmental issues using a series of lectures and discussion seminars.


Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will be able to:


  • Describe how a rapidly changing climate can affect individual organisms, populations and ecosystems and assess the possibilities and potentials of adaptation and mitigation.
  • Critically appraise and discuss research literature regarding contemporary and controversial issues related to impacts of climate change on living systems.
  • Understand the impact of climate change on crop production, food security and soil processes.
  • Understand the impact of climate change on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Describe the impact of climate change on vector-borne diseases and their distribution
  • Critically appraise the media representation of climate change science



•       Climate change at a global level: Climate system components/indicators and changing climate patterns. Shifting biomes and species migration, evolutionary and ecosystem level responses - effects on species competition, effects on the carbon cycle

•       Food security:We will examine the  capability of agriculture to deal with climate change: Challenges for food security & sustainability; impacts on the development, yield and quality of crops; adaptation and mitigation to maintain food security into the future.

•        Impact of climate change on vector-borne disease: The seasonal and spatial distributions of vector-borne disease, e.g. malaria and dengue, are largely determined by the presence of environmental conditions favourable for the vector. We will examine the extent to which climatic change, in the context of other factors such as land use change, is expected to affect the future impacts of vector-borne diseases. 

•        Impact of climate change on the Artic: We will examine the climatic, biological and economic implications of loss of sea ice.

•       Climate change mitigation: How to mitigate the effects of climate change brought about by increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, especially CO2. Biological strategies for carbon sequestration, including the storage of carbon in soil.

Employability skills

Analysis of media stories.
Research topics in literature for essay.
Written communication
Essay on 'The science behind the media story'.
Presentation skills in seminars.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 80%
Written assignment (inc essay) 20%

Written examination: 2 hour written examination (80%) consisting of 2 sections with 3 essay titles in each section, one essay from each section to be completed.


 Written assignment: Written analysis of the research behind an aspect of biological impact of climate change in the media i.e. ‘The Science Behind the Media Story’’ (20%- max 3 pages)



Feedback methods

Written feedback is given on Research/media story analysis, formative oral feedback in class during seminars via discussions and/or verbal feedback on presentations. Verbal feedback on exams in a drop-in session in semester 2.



Recommended reading


  • Mostly primary research literature based with articles and links provided on Blackboard
  • J.A. Newman, M. Anand, H.A.L. Henry, S. Hunt, Z. Gedalof, (2011) Climate Change Biology CAB International, Wallingford (UK) -  Recommended

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 18
Independent study hours
Independent study 80

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Amanda Bamford Unit coordinator

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