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Global Climate Change: Science, Environment and Society

This module explores the scientific, environmental and societal issues surrounding global climate change.  While the basic science underpinning human-caused climate change is not in dispute, this field has acquired political and societal implications way beyond its scientific basis in atmospheric physics.  For this reason, it provides an excellent case study in the overlapping fields of science, the environment, politics, engineering, international law, and society. Some of the key questions we will address in this module include:

  • What is the Greenhouse Effect and how does it function?
  • How is human activity changing the atmosphere?
  • How do past climates on Earth and climate systems on other planets compare iwthour present day climate?
  • What are the potential impacts of climate change on the Earth's water cycle?
  • How do we build models that allow us to predict future changes in the climate?
  • How do renewable energy technologies work and how can they be implemented in policy?
  • What are the cultural and societal implications of climate change?
  • What are the combined impacts of climate change fisheries on marine ecosystems?

We will explore these issues within a multidisciplinary framework with lectures, workshops and practical exercises led by world-class researchers in the physical, biological, environmental and social sciences. We are also planning three exciting virtual fields trips:

  • a field trip to sites on the Cornish coast to see evidence of past sea level change
  • a trip to the world famous Eden Project, guided by experts in the relationship between climate and ecosystems
  • a trip to the Met Office (the UK's weather and climate service), including the fascinating story of the development of weather forecasting and the subsequent development of climate modelling.

This module aims to give you a broad vision and perspective on global climate change: its mechanisms and underlying science, a look at impacts upon society and the environment, and the technologies that can be employed to mitigate its effects. While it is not required to have a scientific background, you should expect to come across scientific and technical terminology during this course.

Module at a Glance

Module Title Global Climate Change: Science, Environment and Science
Module Code ISS3002
Module Convenor Dr Paul Butler
Credit Value 7.5 ECTS
Live Sessions 10 x 2 Hour Sessions
Total Module Hours 150 Hours
Guided Independent Study

Pre-Reading Before Arrival
Preparatory readings for lectures and seminars
Researching, preparing and delivering a group presentation
Researching and completing two written assignments

Pre-recorded lectures and activities

Formative Assessment

Justification of choice of extract for commentary – 300 words -verbal and written feedback

Summative Assessment

Critical Commentary on an extract from a module text – 1500 words – 60% of credit – written feedback

Group Presentation – 20 minutes – 40% of credit – verbal and written feedback

Sample Pre Reading

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2014 (AR5): Synthesis Report

Sample Lecture Sessions

Climate Change outside the Earth System

Renewable Energy Technologies for Climate Change Mitigation