Module DXX-2006:
Climate Change

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Graham Bird

Overall aims and purpose

Climate change is the environmental issue of our time. Society is understandably concerned with how climate is changing now and what the future holds. To fully understand the issue of climate change, this module looks at topic from three viewpoints: 1) how has climate has changed in past and how do we determine this? 2) How is climate predicted to change in future and how we model this? And 3) what impacts those future changes may have on society. The module aims to place the contemporary climate change debate in a longer-term scientific context and explore debates around the causes and consequences of historic and contemporary climate change. Particular focus will be placed on the interactions between people and the environment at a range of geographical and temporal scales.

Course content

  1. Major concepts: climate and environmental change and 'global warming'.
  2. Temporal and spatial patterns of historical climate change. Hot House and Ice House climates, glacial/interglacial cycles, Quaternary climate change (Last Glacial Maximum, Younger Dryas Hypsithermal, Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age).
  3. Drivers of climate change at a range of temporal scales.
  4. Use of environmental proxies. The course will cover the use of a range of environmental proxies for reconstructing past climate at a range of temporal and spatial scales. This will include the use of dendrochronological records, palaeo-atmospheric chemistry (ice-cores), speleotherms, varved sedimentary deposits, documentary records, primary climate observations.
  5. The contemporary climate change debate. Depiction in the popular media, causes, magnitude. Evidence presented in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature.
  6. Future predictions of climate change. IPCC, GCMs.
  7. Socio-economic impacts of climate change and the mitigation and adaption to climate change. Focus on both attempts to address potential causes (e.g. COP conferences) and impacts.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Grades D- to D+: Basic knowledge of the concept of climate change, but lacking a clear multidisciplinary approach to the issues. Presentation of limited examples to illustrate the spatial and temporal variability in climate change and the evidence that highlights this, the predictions for future trends in climate and the suggested socio-environmental implications. Structured, mostly accurate and relevant description. Limited quantification and basic level of critical evaluation expected.

excellent

Grades A- to A**: Clear understanding, wide and thorough knowledge of the concept of climate change. Evidence of substantial reading, and knowledge of recent developments in the understanding of historical and future climate change at a range of spatial and temporal scales. Clear awareness of multidisciplinary issues with greater social, cultural and economic emphasis. Detailed quantification and explanation of derivations. Critical evaluation with well reasoned opinion. Elegant and flowing presentation, with flair for subject.

good

Grades B- to B+: Clear understanding and thorough knowledge of the concept of climate change, with evidence of reading and knowledge of recent developments in the subject . Multidisciplinary issues emphasised, and thoroughly described with a clear appreciation of concepts of spatial and temporal scales. Balanced review of natural and anthropogenic processes. Thorough quantification and critical evaluation of case studies. High standard of presentation.

C- to C+

Grades C- to C+: Adequate knowledge of the concept of climate change with a basic multidisciplinary approach to the issues. Presentation of appropriate examples to illustrate the spatial and temporal variability in climate change and the evidence that highlights this, the predictions for future trends in climate and the suggested socio-environmental implications. Structured, accurate and relevant description. Some quantification and basic level of critical evaluation expected.

Learning outcomes

  1. Outline major patterns of past global and regional climate change at a range of temporal scales.

  2. Describe the major regional and global trends in predicted future climate.

  3. Present an evidenced argument in relation to a key topic associated with climate change.

  4. Outline the impacts of predicted climate change and the proposed approaches to mitigation or adaptation.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
EXAM Exam 50
ESSAY Individual essay 40
GROUP PRESENTATION Group Presentation 10

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study

Private and guided self-study

140
Lecture

10*2 hour lectures

20
Practical classes and workshops

1*2 hour computer practical

2
Seminar

1*3 hour presentation session

3
Seminar

1*3 hour debate session

3
Study group

Preparing for group debate exercise (hours) and for the group presentation assessment (20 hours)

32

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Engagement with current subject developments and their application.
  • Engage in debate and/or discussion with specialists and non-specialists using appropriate language.
  • Demonstrate the independence and skills required for continuing professional development

Resources

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: