MPhys Physics with Astrophysics / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Climate Change & Society

Course unit fact file
Unit code HSTM33201
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Why does climate change policy, despite attracting a worldwide interest, remain a disappointment? Is it because the world is not working hard enough to implement decisions, or because the issue is so extraordinarily difficult that no amount of good will be sufficient to control the rising greenhouse emissions? This unit is a meeting place of climate optimists and climate pessimists: the unit’s readings, research assignments, and weekly group debates will help you see a bigger picture, clear a fog of media clichés and platitudes, and help you scratch under the surface of generic policy buzz words: IPCC, consensus, mitigation, sustainability, clean development mechanism, climate governance, COP, green investments, climate policy, geongineering etc. 


Students will be able to understand the scientific information and key concepts that

underlie climate change, and incorporate current events and new scientific information into what they

have learned to foster critical thinking on future global climate change. They will:

  • understand the basic scientific foundation, key concepts and current scenarios that underlie global climate change science
  • Have an appreciation for the effect of climate variability and change on society throughout history
  • Become aware of climate change impacts, including possible meanings for both the
  • natural and the social world
  • incorporate current events (eg Brexit, Trump, Climate Finance) into the greater context of climate change impacts and policy
  • recognize the limits of current science-policy nexus, in particular of the use of modelling techniques in predicting and acting on climate change.
  • analyze climate change from multiple perspectives including analysis of stakeholders
  • analyze climate change from the perspectives of other people and nations
  • learn how to make explicit their own personal views regarding climate change 

This course is also available as a 20-credit version as HSTM33501.

Assessment methods

  • Essay 1500 words 50%
  • Expedition Photo Essay 1000 words 50%

Feedback methods

Students will receive to formative feedbacks during the course of the unit: (1) individual feedback to their presentations and debate and (2) individual feedback on their essay assignment. They will also have access to full feedback on their projects and exams. All submitted coursework will be returned with annotations and comments on Blackboard explaining the rationale for the marks given. All feedback on written coursework will be given within two weeks time, unless otherwise specified

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 12
Seminars 12
Independent study hours
Independent study 76

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Vladimir Jankovic Unit coordinator

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