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Module DXX-3800:
Living w our Changing Climate

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Simon Willcock

Overall aims and purpose

The world is changing faster than ever before – natural resources are being depleted, land use is rapidly changing and climate patterns are shifting. This module explores the different dimensions of our changing planet and how humans can adapt to such changes. The interdisciplinary module will introduce key concepts from natural science and social science. Alongside theory, the module will introduce practical skills in computer modelling, enabling potential adaptations to be tested.

Course content

Key topics will include:

  • Environmental change and its drivers – including land use change, climate change, and tipping points.
  • Ecosystem service – the interface between people and the nature.
  • Livelihoods and coping strategies
  • The laws of migration
  • Push-pull-mooring migration theory.

Computer practices to explore the different dimensions and impacts of coping with a changing planet, including:

  • Changing Livelihoods
  • Urbanisation
  • Segregation
  • Migration
  • Social networks

Assessment Criteria


Grade B- to B+ In addition to the above, demonstrate an ability think critically about the interactions between people and the environment and be able to suggest strategies for adapting to environmental change. Such strategies should be supported with highly structured, accurate and relevant descriptions of appropriate examples linking social science theory (i.e. livelihoods & migration) with natural science theory (i.e. ecosystem services & tipping points). High standard of presentation. Evidence of reading and knowledge of recent developments in the subject.


Grade D- to C+ Be able to demonstrate, with few factual errors, knowledge of environmental change and discuss their impacts on livelihood strategies. Basic application of the key concepts of the laws of migration and push-pull-migration theory.


Grade A- and above In addition to the above, evidence of substantial reading from a variety of sources (e.g. books, journal articles and research reports), and advanced knowledge of recent developments in the subject. Advanced critical evaluation of concepts and case studies, showing an ability to analyse and synthesise arguments and information. Elegant and flowing presentation.

Learning outcomes

  1. To be able to identify and critically evaluate different livelihood strategies and adaptation strategies to environmental change.

  2. To be able to effectively apply case studies to accurately evaluate the laws of migration.

  3. To be able to create and adapt simple computer models.

  4. To be able to describe the major drivers of global environmental change and its impacts.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
GROUP PRESENTATION Group presentation 25
EXAM Exam 75

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Study group

Group study in preparation for the Group Presentation assessment

Practical classes and workshops

10 * 2 Hours

Private study

Reading time, forums, preparing and taking assessments


7 * 2 Hours 3 * 1 Hour


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
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Develop and identify research question(s) and/or hypotheses as the basis for investigation.
  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Awareness of the concepts of spatial and temporal scale in understanding processes and relationships.
  • Appreciation of the reciprocal nature of human-environmental relationships.
  • Apply appropriate techniques for presenting spatial and/or temporal trends in data.
  • Preparation of effective maps, diagrams and visualizations.
  • Engage in debate and/or discussion with specialists and non-specialists using appropriate language.
  • Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.
  • Recognize the moral, ethical and social issues relating to the subject.


Resource implications for students

Students will be encouraged to access appropriate text provided in the library, and to install NetLogo on their personal computer. However, NetLogo is open-access and will also be provided on computers within the School.

Reading list

Recommended reading includes:

  • Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) "Ecosystems and human well-being: biodiversity synthesis." World resources institute, Washington, DC 86
  • De Haan, Arjan. "Livelihoods and poverty: The role of migration‐a critical review of the migration literature." The journal of development studies 36.2 (1999): 1-47.
  • Raleigh, C., Jordan, L. and Salehyan, I., (2008) Assessing the impact of climate change on migration and conflict. In Paper commissioned by the World Bank Group for the Social Dimensions of Climate Change workshop, Washington, DC (pp. 5-6).
  • Adger, W. N., Huq, S., Brown, K., Conway, D., & Hulme, M. (2003). Adaptation to climate change in the developing world. Progress in development studies, 3(3), 179-195.

See the slides for further (more up-to-date) reading. Hyperlinks to all papers reference in the lectures will be available on the slides.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules


Courses including this module