SOEE2160 Climate Change: Science and Impacts

Reading List
  • Taught: Semester 1 View timetable
  • Credits: 10
  • Class Size: 150
  • Module Manager: Prof Ken Carslaw
  • Email:
  • This Module is approved as a Discovery Module
  • This module replaces SOEE2150 (50%)

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

Module Summary

Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing mankind today.
In this module, you will discover the fundamental natural processes driving the Earth's climate system from orbital forcing, biosphere-climate interactions to El Nino. You will also learn about the human influence on current and future climate, and the science behind the attribution of climate change to human activities.
The module examines previous changes in climate from historical and climate proxy data, and puts them into context with the current changes being faced. You will also investigate the science behind 'geo-engineering', future climate predictions and regional and global impacts of predicted climate change.
Assessment is in the form of a written review exercise and an exam.


  • 1. Basic understanding of the complexity of the climate system and links with the Earth system.
  • 2. Basic understanding of climate science.
  • 3. Understanding of why climate has changed in the past and the use and limitations of climate proxies.
  • 4. An understanding of the natural and anthropogenic influences on the climate system over various time-scales.
  • 5. Knowledge of current modelling techniques used to understand and predict Earth's climate.
  • 6. Understanding of the potential and predicted impacts of future climate change on the environment and society.
  • 7. Development of key skills in critical thinking, objective analysis, data interpretation.


  • - Observed climate variability and change: Recent centuries; climate reconstruction; the last 100 Myears.
  • - Climate science: Energy balance; heat fluxes; the carbon cycle, physical climate interactions; natural modes and coupled systems; climate sensitivity; climate system feedbacks.
  • - Chemistry, biogeochemistry- and biosphere-climate interactions.
  • - Human perturbation of climate: Climate forcing agents; GHG and aerosol forcing of climate.
  • - Climate change detection and attribution; climate models and modelling present climate.
  • - Future climate: Future emission projections; future climate predictions; Geo-engineering; non-linear responses & 'tipping points'.
  • - Global and regional impacts of climate change: extreme weather, cryosphere, water cycle, crop yields, ocean acidification.
  • - Objective analysis and critical thinking in climate change science.

Skills Outcomes

Key skills in research: literature searching and review techniques, objective analysis, interpretation, critical thinking, and written composition.

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching


Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Report Written Report 1000 words 60
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 60


Exam type Exam duration % of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc) (S1) 1 hr 0 mins 40
Total Percentage (Assesment Exams) 40

Private Study

  • - 12 hours: preparing report
  • - 25 hours: preparing for exam
  • - 43 hours: independent background reading.

Progress Monitoring

Formative feedback in preparation for the coursework assignment and exam will be provided throughout the module in the group activity lectures. Detailed summative and formative feedback will be provided on the written report at the end of term and prior to exam.

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
Lecture 20 1 20
Private Study Hours 80
Total Contact Hours 20
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 100

Reading List

Reading List
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