BSc Geography with International Study / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Climate Change: Science and Society

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG20091
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This unit introduces natural and social scientific approaches to understanding anthropogenic climate change and its possible solutions. It begins with an overview of the impacts, risks and risk perceptions of gradual and abrupt climate changes, including climate tipping points. It will outline world regional impacts and options for adapting to them. It then introduces the natural science of climate change, including drivers of change, the Earth system and biogeochemical cycles, and modelling future climate scenarios. The unit then examines the technical and social dimensions of mitigation options for reducing and removing greenhouse gas emissions, including for energy conservation, energy efficiency, low carbon energy, and carbon dioxide removal. It concludes by examining the technical and social dimensions of solar geoengineering ideas for reflecting sunlight back into space and cooling 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.

Aims

 

 

  • To provide a background on the impacts, risks and risk perceptions of climate change, including world regional impacts and climate tipping points.
  • Introduce the natural science of climate change, including drivers of change, the Earth system and biogeochemical cycles, and modelling future climate scenarios.
  • To explore the technical and social dimensions of different climate change solutions spanning emissions reductions and removals, adaptation and solar geoengineering.

 

Learning outcomes

 

On completion of this unit students should be able to:

  • Explain the natural science of climate change.
  • Discuss the risks of climate change facing society.
  • Explain different perceptions of climate change.
  • Assess different climate solutions against a range of criteria.
  • Collaborate in developing and presenting perspectives on climate change topics.
  • Formulate written arguments in relation to climate change topics.
  • Synthesise research evidence for a policy audience.

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 carbon dioxide removal and solar geoengineering solutions

Intellectual skills

 - Evaluate different adaptation solutions

- Evaluate mitigation solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across different sectors

- Evaluate carbon dioxide removal and solar geoengineering solutions

Practical skills

  • 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

 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

  • Formative feedback through Q&A, discussion and interactive activities within lectures and seminars.
  • Formative feedback on any course unit issue through consultation hours.
  • Summative written feedback on the coursework assignment and exam.

Recommended reading

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.

Key journals:

Climate Policy

Climatic Change

Ecological Economics

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

 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ami Crowther Unit coordinator
Rob Bellamy Unit coordinator
Gareth Clay Unit coordinator

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