BSc Global Development

Year of entry: 2024

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
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit introduces natural and social scientific approaches to understanding anthropogenic climate change and its possible solutions. 

It begins by introducing the natural science of climate change, including drivers of change and future projections as well as impacts and risks. It will also introduce the social science of climate change, including the different ways in which it is framed and perceived. 

The unit will then introduce different options for tackling climate change, spanning adaptation to climate change impacts, mitigation options for reducing and removing carbon dioxide emissions, and solar geoengineering for reflecting sunlight back into space. It will examine the social and technical dimensions of these, before reflecting on questions of responsibility for tackling climate change. 

The unit emphasises the importance of interdisciplinarity in understanding and tackling this complex and uncertain problem, and the spacial place for geography in facilitating this learning.



  • To provide a background into the natural and social science of climate change, including drivers of change, future projections, impacts and risks, framings and perceptions.
  • To explore the technical and social dimensions of different climate change solutions spanning emissions reductions and removals, adaptation and solar geoengineering.



Contemporaty climate change and policy 

Physical science basis I

Physical science basis II

Framing climate change

Risks and perceptions of climate change 

Introducing mitigation: Approaches and challenges 

Implementing mitigation: Mechanisms, governance and justice

Carbon dioxide removal: Methods and challenges

The promise and perils of solar geoengineering

Responsibility for climate change

Teaching and learning methods

The unit is delivered through weekly two-hour interaction lecture sessions including discussions, debates and practical exercises. The lectures will be supported by weekly one-hour seminars.

Additional reading around the themes of the lectures is expected. Formative feedback will be given during lectures and seminars. 

The course is supported by a dedicated Blackboard site.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Explain drivers, projections, impacts and risks of climate change
  • Explain different framings and perceptions of climate change and societal responses to it

Intellectual skills

  • Synthesise and analyse information about climate change 
  • Critically reflect on and evaluate different options for tackling climate change

Practical skills

  • Plan and execute independent assignments
  • Use library, electronic and online resources to research and prepare for assignments

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Gather and synthesise research evidence for scientific and policy audiences
  • Use word processing software and the internet to research and prepare written assignments
  • Work in team by recognising the views of others and working constructively with them


Assessment methods

Summative Assessment

Group poster  A3  20%

Individual POST note-style essay  2000 words  80%

Formative Assessment     

Quizzes on Blackboard  Short multiple-choice questions

Feedback methods

Group poster: Feedback provided through Blackboard within 3 working weeks.

Individual POST note-style essay: Feedback provided through Blackboard within 3 working weeks. 

Quizzes: Correct answers provided at the end of each quiz. 

Recommended reading

IPCC (2023): Climate Change 2022: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC: Geneva, CH.

Key journals:

Climate Policy

Environmental Research Letters

Environmental Science & Policy

Frontiers in Climate

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
Rob Bellamy Unit coordinator

Return to course details