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The Challenge of Climate Change

  • Module code: GG6070
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 6
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This is a core Level 6 module for all Environmental Science and Environmental Science, Disasters and Management Students. This module tackles the key issues relating to climate change in the three main subject areas of science, policy and society. It aims to provide students with an understanding of the key concepts and processes of climate change and the various ways in which societies can respond. Core factual material is provided via Canvas with keynote lectures, seminars and workshops used to explain concepts. Fieldwork sessions are designed to complement the lecture series and give further practical demonstration of policy and practice complexities.

Aims

  • To synthesise the key components of the global climate system
  • To examine the impacts of climate change on various physical systems
  • To explore the responses of past and present human societies to climate
  • To examine international, national and local policies and practices responding to climate change.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Explain the complex components of the global climate system
  • Critically discuss models for global climate change scenarios
  • Assess how changes in climate will affect terrestrial and aquatic environments
  • Interpret and evaluate international, national and local scale legislation, policy and practice responding to climate change
  • Engage effectively in role-play debates and oral presentations, and produce detailed and coherent project reports.

Curriculum content

  • The global climate system - Concepts in climatology, general circulation of the oceans and atmosphere, AMOC.
  • Climate change and stability in Earth history - Mechanisms of change, (over millennia, submillenial to decadal), reconstructions using ice, ocean and terrestrial proxies. Natural vs anthropogenic warming.
  • Future Climate Change and predictions - Advances in modelling the climate system (eg. GCMs). Future climate scenarios and uncertainties.
  • The effect of climate change on terrestrial and aquatic systems (e.g. sea-level rise, hydrological changes, glaciological changes).
  • Seminar - Contemporary topics relating to climate change (UK and European perspective).
  • Methodology for carbon-reduction strategies; from building design to renewable energy to dietary change to behavioural change; what is the effective way forward?  An analysis of complexity and the need for interdisciplinary skills and knowledge.
  • Impacts of climate change and challenges faced.

Teaching and learning strategy

Lectures will introduce the key climate change themes and will be supported through workshops and seminars, whilst site visits will to give further practical demonstration. Independent learning will be facilitated by asking each student to explore a key aspect of the climate system for seminar presentations and a written assignment. A ‘public enquiry games' assessment will allow students to research, in depth, specific stakeholder viewpoints and the broad concerns pertinent to diverse major case study scenarios. A written exam paper will test the understanding of key aspects of the module.

Employability skills developed in this module integrate horizontally with other Level 6 modules and include communication skills (eg. discussion such as climate change debates), syethesising multiple information souces and the production and presentation authentic reports mimicking professional standards. Canvas VLE will be used to support all aspects of learning and teaching, providing a platform for articulating the module syllabus, assessment and feedback, archiving module-related resources (eg. specific reading materials) and a digital discussion platform.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lecture Workshop Seminar Fieldwork 50 10 12 10
Guided independent study 218
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Summative assessment consists of:

(A) Climate science report (30%, 2500 words) based on either climate modelling or utilising the outputs of a climate model and composing a report which discusses the outcomes and implications of the model's findings.

(B) Stakeholder Report (30%, 2500 words) critiquing climate policies and practices.

(C) End of year written exam (40%, 2 hour) answering two questions from a selection to assess their knowledge of both climate science and climate policies and practice.

Formative assessment will include:

(D) Practice examination based on sample questions in-class and receive feedback on this based on a 'model' answers.

(E) Seminar-based debate and discussions with associated feedback on a range of science, policy and practice issues that feedforward to the summative assessments.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1) Explain the complex components of the global climate system (A) Climate science report and (B) Climate policy report informed by (E).
2) Critically discuss models for global climate change scenarios (A) Climate science report and (B) Climate policy report informed by (E).
3) Assess how changes in climate will affect terrestrial and aquatic environments (A) Climate science report and (B) Climate policy report informed by (E).
4) Interpret and evaluate international, national and local scale legislation, policy and practice responding to climate change (B) Climate policy report informed by (E).
5) Engage effectively in role-play debates and oral presentations, and produce detailed and coherent project reports (A) Climate science report and (B) Climate policy report informed by (E).

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Written Exam Written Examination 40%
Climate Science report Coursework 30%
Climate Policy report Coursework 30%
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major element of assessment is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography core texts

Houghton J (2015) Global Warming: The Complete Briefing (5th edition), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Bibliography recommended reading

Adger NI, Lorenzoni, I and O'Brien K (eds) (2009) Adapting to Climate Change; Thresholds, Values and Governance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Boroughs WJ (2007) Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach (2nd edition), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Glavovic BC and Smith GP (eds) (2016) Adapting to Climate Change: Lessons from Natural Hazards Planning (Environmental Hazards). Springer, London.

Harris FMA (ed) (2004) Global Environmental Issues. Wiley, Chichester.

Hulme M (2009) Why We Disagree About Climate Change. Understanding Controversy, Inaction, and Opportunity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Ison S, Peake S and Wall S (2002) Environmental Issues and Policies. Pearson Education Ltd, Harlow.

Lowe JJ and Walker MJC (2014) Reconstructing Quaternary Environments (3rd edition), Longman, Harlow. 

Moser SC (ed) (2008) Creating a Climate for Change. Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Neelin JD (2011) Climate Change and Climate Modeling. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Ruddiman W (2001) Earth's Climate: Past and Future, WH Freeman, New York.

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