Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap None. Location Durham


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Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • This module will provide students with an introduction to contemporary climate change. It will provide an introduction to the physical science underpinning our understanding of past, present and future climate change, and explain some of the most serious impacts. The module also introduces mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change, and examines how climate action pertains to several United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals.


  • This module will provide an introduction to climate change through the following topics:
  • The science of climate change: the patterns and causes of climate change (both past and present)
  • The competing perspectives around climate change including major climate change controversies
  • The challenges in projecting future climate change
  • Mitigation and adaptation to climate change

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of the module students are expected to have knowledge of:
  • The key physical science that underpins our understanding how and why the climate has changed and is changing
  • The major controversies associated with climate change
  • The most important climate impacts on different earth systems
  • The main approaches to mitigation and adaptation
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
  • Describe the way climate change science is undertaken, and the ways in which future climate will change
  • Evaluate the importance of understanding uncertainty in future projections
  • Critically evaluate the communication of climate science
  • Outline potential climate change impacts
Key Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
  • Demonstrate expertise in the critical appraisal of multiple viewpoints and positions
  • Develop skills of written communication, including the synthesis of information and the development of a well-argued and evidenced position
  • Develop an ability to critically evaluate both qualitative and quantitative data relating to climate change

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures will be used to impart knowledge and information necessary to fulfil the aims of this module, introduce students to wider topics for reading, and to introduce areas of debate and wider reading
  • Problem-solving exercises will be used to explore areas of controversy and develop students’ ability to critically appraise and question a range of intellectual positions
  • Group/peer discussions will be used to develop students’ ability to debate and ask questions in a public forum and summarise information. This will enable students to develop their skills in understanding climate change.
  • Students will have an opportunity to critically evaluate selected climate change debates.
  • The short format/multiple choice test will assess student’s knowledge and understanding of underpinning principles of climate change and their ability to understand and interpret various data relating to climate change
  • The exam will enable students to demonstrate their interdisciplinary understanding of climate change and awareness of contemporary debates.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 Varies 2 hours 44
Group/peer work (formative feedback session) 2 Term 1 & 2 2 hours 4
Preparation and reading 152
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Short answer/multiple choice test Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Short answer/multiple choice test 1.5 hours 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Online 24 hour unseen examination 2 hours (recommended) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative version of short/answer multiple choice format test. Group discussions to analyse a contemporary issue or debate on climate science, mitigation or adaptation, with feedback from staff

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University