Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5860M Physical climate change, impacts and mitigation

30 creditsClass Size: 200

Module manager: Piers Forster

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module introduces students to core scientific principles and processes of climate science, impacts of climate change, sources of emission and their reduction strategies. The aim is to establish a scientific literacy that is essential for quantifying and responding to the climate crisis. The course will give learners the ability to communicate the connection between emissions, global warming and impacts to a broad range of policy, business and public stakeholders.


Learners will develop a deep understanding of the connection between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, the main drivers of these emissions, and how climate change influences wider aspects of the Earth System, resulting in societal and ecological impacts. They will explore how global warming levels such as 1.5°C and 2°C will manifest across the Earth system, delving into the detail of carbon budgets, net zero, risk around climate overshoot and potential irreversible changes in the natural world. Learners will draw on engineering, economic and social science viewpoints (including national and global emission mitigation technologies and social transformation strategies) to gain a multidisciplinary perspective.

The module covers modelling and hypothesis testing (developing both fieldwork observation and climate modelling tools). Learning is immersive, using interactive lectures, digital resources, and core literature as a springboard for hands-on training in the practical acquisition and application of natural science and engineering knowledge. The module will be broadly informative with a strong emphasis on problem solving and scientific method, yet it allows those with existing related knowledge and skills to explore topics of interest in greater detail, interacting with world leading researchers to gain expert depth of understanding. Authentic assessments and projects will develop learners' ability to communicate complex scientific knowledge to a variety of policy, public and business stakeholders.

Learning outcomes
1. Describe the connection between greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, climate impacts and climate mitigation, including, carbon budgets, key climate risks, sector mitigation and energy demand decarbonisation pathways.
2. Analyse and synthesise real world climate observations and their uncertainties
3. Design and run reduced complexity climate modelling simulations in Python
4. Formulate credible climate change, impacts and mitigation arguments using science, critical thinking, and literature sources.
5. Communicate these arguments to different stakeholders, which may include the public, policymakers, business and academics.

Skills outcomes
1. Run a reduced complexity climate model and design original experiments with the model. Graphically present results. All within Python 

2. Rapid appraisal, contextualizing and critical evaluation of evidence from published literature and government reports

3. Record climate observations, manipulate and analyse datasets: their statistical analysis and synthesis 

4. Design and communicate results to stakeholders through a poster presentation


History of climate science
Making and analysing original climate observations
Understanding the policy contexts for climate change, adaptation and mitigation
The theoretical basis for quantifying climate change and its causes
The carbon cycle
The theoretical basis for quantifying climate change and its causes
The basis of climate modelling
Evaluating climate extremes and climate impacts
Linking human activity to emissions
Technology driven mitigation; societal driven mitigation
Carbon budgets and net zero

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours129.00
Private study hours100.00
Total Contact hours71.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Verbal feedback during computer practical laboratories and fieldwork
Written Turnitin feedback on observational analysis, mid semester
Verbal and written feedback on Poster presentation at end of the semester
Written Turnitin feedback on 2000 word rapid review assignment, end of semester

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportPolicy focussed Rapid Review: total 2000 words.30.00
ReportPrimary data figures and justification of approach20.00
Group ProjectTeam poster (A0) presentation of climate modelling experiments with peer-assessment.50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The resits for the Reports (Policy focussed Rapid Review and Primary data figures) takes the same form as the first attempts; a Rapid Evidence Review, but on a new topic, and analysis of primary field data, respectively. The Group Project (team poster) builds on the previous other two assignments, representing the culmination of the module and preparing students for their Capstone project contributions. The resit for this assignment is a personal statement (max. 2,500 words), including reflection on the individual’s participation in the teamwork, reflection on their positionality, and a report of the concrete contributions that they could/should have made to the broader piece.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 15/04/2024


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019