Skip to main content

Study information

Climate Change and Society

Module titleClimate Change and Society
Module codeGEO3437B
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Professor Catherine Leyshon (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The study of the human dimensions of climate change has been growing in momentum through research which attempts to describe and evaluate perceptions of climate change, understand more about risk and assess the construction of policy. Nevertheless, the work of social scientists in respect of climate change is clearly felt to be incomplete, judging by recent calls that important work still needs to be done to understand how individuals and communities respond to climate change based on ‘their needs, values, cultures, capacities, institutional forms and environmental features’. This module is of direct applied relevance to students interested in working in policy, government or consultancy.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module explores how as a society we imagine, understand, communicate and respond to climate change. It explores climate change as the object of study of social scientists and humanities scholars, looking in particular at the unique contribution of human geography to this work. It  explores some of the reasons why this global environmental problem has proved difficult to address, looking at key themes of adaptation, behaviour change, mitigation, attribution, scepticism and protest.

The social media campaign that forms part of the assessment is an example of applied learning that is research-led and puts employability at the heart of the module, giving you an opportunity to design, plan and deliver a climate change communication campaign suitable for the general public. The module draws explicitly on Prof Leyshon’s research into human geographies of climate change.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Analyse critically the social and cultural aspects of climate change
  • 2. Review and evaluate the key research developments in the social sciences and humanities in studying the human dimensions of climate change
  • 3. Outline the ways in which different social, political, economic and ecological processes are negotiated in the creation of policy for climate change
  • 4. Recognise and work with the methodological issues that attend the conduct of research from different theoretical perspectives including social and cultural geography

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Describe in detail and analyse essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of human geography
  • 6. Analyse and evaluate independently a range of research-informed literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 7. Identify and implement, with limited guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for solving a range of complex problems in human geography
  • 8. With minimal guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within human geography
  • 9. Describe and evaluate in detail approaches to our understanding of human geography with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 10. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 11. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 12. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data and complete a range of research-like tasks with very limited guidance
  • 13. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to graduate-level professional and practical skills, and act autonomously to develop new areas of skills as necessary
  • 14. Reflect effectively and independently on learning experiences and evaluate personal achievements
  • 15. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

  • Introduction
  • Adaptation and Behaviour Change
  • Mitigation
  • Attribution
  • Scepticism
  • Protest

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching10Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Workshops
Guided independent study130Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Student-led seminars5 hours in total across the moduleAllBrief written feedback for each group and general oral in class

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group project management (Trello)5Updated Trello boards reflecting the activity of the group over 3 weeks7-9, 14, 15Written
Pledge social media campaign45At least two social media sites created and maintained; one-page summary of the key points of the campaign.1, 3, 4, 6-8,10-13, 15Written
Coursework Essay501500 words1-14Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Group project management (Trello)Not applicableNot applicableNot applicable
Pledge social media campaignPlanning document describing the design of a social media campaign1, 3, 4, 6-8,10-13, 15Referral/Deferral Period
Coursework EssayCoursework Essay1-14Referral/Deferral Period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The group Trello project is not deferrable because of its practical nature and the requirement to work in a group. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (ie a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Adger, W.N., Dessai, S., Goulden, M., Hulme, M., Lorenzoni, I., and Nelson, D.R. (2009) ‘Are There Social Limits to Adaptation to Climate Change?’ Climatic Change 93, 335–54.
  • Aspinall, R. (2010) ‘Geographical Perspectives on Climate Change’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers [special issue: Climate Change] 100, 715–18. (Overview of environmental, human, social, political, and methodological issues of the geographical dimensions of climate change.)
  • Barnett, J. (2010) ‘Adapting to Climate Change: Three Key Challenges for Research and Policy – an Editorial Essay’, WIREs Climate Change 1, 314–17.
  • Behringer, W. (2009) A Cultural History of Climate, Cambridge: Polity.
  • Boykoff, M., Goodman, M. and Curtis, I. (2009) ‘Cultural Politics of Climate Change: Interactions in the Spaces of the Everyday, Environment, Politics and Development’, Working Paper Series: Department of Geography, King’s College London.
  • Brace, C. and Geoghegan, H. (2011) ‘Human Geographies of Climate Change: Landscape, Temporality, Lay Knowledge’, Progress in Human Geography 35, 284–302.
  • Brierley, G. (2010) ‘Landscape Memory: The Imprint of the Past on Contemporary Landscape Forms and Processes’, Area 42, 76–85.
  • Demeritt, D. (2001) ‘The Construction of Global Warming and the Politics of Science’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91, 307–37.
  • DeSilvey, C. (2012) ‘Making Sense of Transience: An Anticipatory History’, Cultural Geographies, 19, 31–54.
  • Devine-Wright, P. (2011) ‘Place Attachment and Public Acceptance of Renewable Energy: A Tidal Energy Case Study’, Journal of Environmental Psychology 31: 336–43.
  • Dockerty, T., Lovett, A., SuÃ?��Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½nnenberg, G., Appleton, K. and Parry, M. (2005) ‘Visualizing the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Rural Landscapes’, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems 29, 297–320.
  • Doyle, J. (2007) ‘Picturing the Clima(c)tic: Greenpeace and the Representational Politics of Climate Change Communication’, Science as Culture 16, 129–50.
  • Geoghegan, H. and Leyshon, C. (2012) ‘On Climate Change and Cultural Geography: Farming on the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, UK’, Climatic Change, 113(1) (2012), 55–66, available at DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0417-5.
  • Hulme, M. (2008) ‘Geographical Work at the Boundaries of Climate Change’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 33, 5–11.
  • Hulme, M. 2009) Why We Disagree about Climate Change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ingold, T. (2000) The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, London: Routledge.
  • Ingold, T. (2004) ‘Culture on the Ground: The World Perceived through the Feet’, Journal of Material Culture 9, 315–40.
  • Ingold, T. (2007) ‘Earth, Sky, Wind, and Weather’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13, S19–S38.
  • Moser, S.C. (2009) ‘Now More than Ever: The Need for More Societally-Relevant Research on Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change’, Applied Geography 30, 464–74.
  • Nadai, A. and Van Der Horst, D. (2010) ‘Introduction: Landscapes of Energies’ Landscape Research, 35, 143–55.
  • Nerlich, B., Koteyko, N., and Brown, B. (2010) ‘Theory and Language of Climate Change Communication’, WIREs Climate Change 1, 97–110.
  • Spence, A. and Pidgeon, N.F. (2010) ‘Framing and Communicating Climate Change: The Effects of Distance and Outcome Frame Manipulations’, Global Environmental Change 20, 656–67.
  • Strauss, S. and Orlove, B.S. (2003) Weather, Climate, Culture, Oxford: Berg.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE page:department to advise

Key words search

Climate change, landscape, society, culture

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date