Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules


  • This module aims to provide students with an overview of contemporary climate change as an issue that transcends science and social science boundaries, and one that requires different understanding and responses at different scales.
  • It will include an overview of a range of contemporary climate change issues, governance of these issues and wider debates. The module aims to link an understanding of the physical processes underpinning climate change with an appreciation of the multiple ways in which these are manifested as climate impacts, and aims to use case studies and in-depth analysis to enable students to assess the range of social and economic responses to climate change.


  • This module will develop a geographical perspective on climate change through addressing the following topics:
  • The science of climate change: the patterns and causes of climate change, and the challenges in projecting future climate change
  • The competing perspectives around climate change including major climate change controversies
  • Social and economic responses to climate change including carbon trading
  • Policy instruments and institutions for climate change governance
  • Case studies for national and corporate response to climate change
  • The importance of scale for understanding response to climate change

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • On successful completion of the module students are expected to have knowledge of:
  • Climate change as an issue that cuts across science and social science boundaries
  • The range of challenges associated with understanding and managing climate change at different scales: from global to local
  • An understanding of the major controversies associated with climate change
  • A range of examples of social and economic responses to climate change, and at different scales
Subject-specific Skills:
  • On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
  • Describe the way climate change science works, its major controversies, the ways in which future climate will change, and the importance of understanding uncertainty.
  • Compare and critically analyse different approaches to responding to climate change at a variety of scales and in a range of settings
  • Demonstrate their understanding of both theoretical debates and empirical issues through case studies and grounded examples
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 a variety of verbal and written communication skills, including the synthesis of information, communication via visual media, and the development of a well-argued and evidenced position

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

  • Lectures will be used to impart basic facts and information necessary to fulfill the aims of this module, introduce students to wider topics for reading, and to introduce areas of debate and controversy
  • Tutorials will be used to explore areas of controversy and develop students’ ability to critically appraise and question a range of intellectual positions
  • A workshop will be used to deepen students’ understanding and to assess a range of perspectives on climate change governance
  • Group discussions and workshops will be used to develop students’ ability to debate and ask questions in a public forum. This will enable students to develop their skills in understanding the relationship between climate science and climate policy, critically analysing the approach developed to respond to climate change in one nation-state and placing this in a comparative context. They will start to develop the connections between theoretical debates and their explanatory power in relation to a range of empirical contexts
  • In the summative group video project, students will describe, contextualise, and critically analyse a contemporary issue or debate and demonstrate their ability to comprehend module content and to approach climate change issues in an interdisciplinary manner
  • The annotated bibliography will enable the students to demonstrate critical thinking and demonstrate how they approached and developed an interdisciplinary understanding of the climate change issue or debate raised in the group video through detailed engagement with the themes of the module
  • The exam will enable students to demonstrate their interdisciplinary understanding of climate change, including the mechanisms of climate science, its uncertainties and controversies, the ways in which the challenges of responding to climate change vary between actors and across different scales, and their knowledge of the dynamics and consequences of a variety of social and economic responses

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 14 Varies 2 hours 28
Tutorials 2 1 in Term 1; 1 in Term 2 1 hour 2
Tutorial (linked to formative assessment) 1 Once (Term 1) 1 hour 1
Workshop 1 Mid-Term 2 4 hours 4
Groupwork (formative assessment session) 1 End Term 1 2 hours 2
Groupwork (self-guided practicals) 4 Terms 1 and 2 1 hour 4
Workshop (drop-in sessions) 2 End Term 1; Start Term 2 1 hour 2
Preparation and reading 157
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Group project (video) Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Group project (video) 8 minutes 100%
Component: Individual annotated bibliography Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Individual annotated bibliography Max 2 pages A4 100%
Component: Examination Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Online 24 hour unseen examination 2 hours (recommended) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Term 1: Group analysis of a case study of national-level climate change responses. Students will receive feedback during a discussion session at the end of Term 1.

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