The politics, science, and future of climate change

Module details

  • Offered to 2nd Year students in Autumn term
  • Mondays 16:00-18:00
  • Planned delivery: Online - Live
  • 1-term module worth 5 ECTS 
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore 

In recent years, climate change has become an urgent and contentious topic within the environmental science community and the world at large. This module aims to bring students together from across the College to teach the latest climate science and create a community of creative problem solvers. Each week will focus on a different aspect of climate science, with topics ranging from atmospheric physics to policy, and governance to the energy transition. Given that this is a global issue, you will come away with an understanding of how the impacts are being felt in different regions and communities.  

The module will teach you how to construct arguments on the urgency, implications and impacts of climate, and to understand the nature of the climate crisis. You will be able to reflect on solutions or mitigation strategies and apply scientific methods to evaluate arguments in support of climate action. The module will also help you identify opportunities to use your own expertise to make a positive impact. 


Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, you will better be able to:  

  • Construct evidence-based arguments demonstrating the urgency, implications and impacts of climate change 
  • Explain the multidisciplinary nature of the climate crisis and identify opportunities for change across disciplines  
  • Reflect critically on solutions, adaptation or mitigation strategies  
  • Apply the scientific methods in order to critically evaluate and formulate arguments in support of climate actions 
  • Identify opportunities to leverage one's own expertise to make a positive impact towards solving the climate crisis 

Indicative core content

The module will introduce why there is a need to act on climate change by firstly covering the committed and forecasted physical impacts. This is a presentation of the symptoms of climate change and ways to treat them. Secondly, we will look at how to treat the disease itself, that is energy production and consumption. This second part will address the need for an energy transition and discuss the challenges and opportunities involved in this transition. Finally, the course will explore ways to implement and empower changes by investigating the role, responsibilities and opportunities of different actors. 

Part I: Physical transition. This section will look at the evidence for change in the physical environment and present the forecasts for the future. The following topics will be covered: heat and rain, water resources, drought, extreme weather, adaptation/mitigation strategies to sea level, flooding, acidification, biodiversity reduction, agricultural challenges. 

Part II: Energy transition. This section will introduce the concept of energy system, address the problems of supply and demand, including in the context of population growth, and finally discuss various energetic options, focusing particularly on renewables. 

Part III: Societal, economic and political transition: Part I and II will look at the symptoms and the disease, Part III will look at the patient; that is discuss the human element of climate change. The topics covered will include population growth and migration, sustainable development, climate finance, just transition, discuss various social, economic and political solutions and evaluate responsibilities and implementation strategies and challenges. 

Learning and teaching approach

Learning will take place through a mixture of: 

  • Online lectures 
  • Webinars 
  • Pre-recorded interviews 
  • Discussion groups  
  • Self-study 

Feedback will be given on weekly quizzes and peers will give both formative oral feedback and summative feedback on the critical analysis. Individual feedback will be given by a member of the teaching team for the essay. 


  • Weekly quizzes (0% weighting but must be completed to pass the module)
  • Overview quiz (75% passing grade) (20% weighting)
  • Self-reflective essay (40% passing grade) (80% weighting) 

Key information

  • Requirements: It is compulsory to take an I-Explore module during your degree (you’ll take an I-Explore module in either your 2nd or 3rd year, depending on your department). You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 105 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes for example reading and preparation for classes, researching and writing coursework assignments, project work and preparing for other assessments
  • I-Explore modules are worth 5 ECTS credit towards your degree; to receive these you will have to pass the module. The numerical mark that you obtain will not be included in the calculation of your final degree result, but it will appear on your transcript
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 6 course
  • This module is offered by the Centre for Environmental Policy