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2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Programme Catalogue

MSc Climate Futures: Science, Society and Politics

Programme code:MSC-CF/SS&PUCAS code:
Duration:12 Months Method of Attendance: Full Time
Programme manager:PL Ruza Ivanovic Co-PLs Susi Lorenz and Olaf Corry Contact

Total credits: 180

Entry requirements:

A bachelor’s degree with a 2:1 (hons) in any subject.

School/Unit responsible for the parenting of students and programme:

School of Earth & Environment

Examination board through which the programme will be considered:

School of Earth & Environment

Relevant QAA Subject Benchmark Groups:

The programme closely aligns with the standards outlined in the two most relevant QAA benchmark statements, i.e. on Earth Sciences, Environmental Science and Environmental Studies (‘ES3’), see: ; and on Politics and International Relations, see:

Programme specification:

This programme aims to produce dextrous, effective and reflexive climate actors. Uniquely, the programme will empower graduates to navigate and intervene in the rapidly evolving transdisciplinary agenda and processes that climate change is engendering across multiple sectors, regions and globally. Learning opportunities will be consistent and coherent with this aim, with an emphasis on first laying the groundwork of necessary expertise and knowledges, and then bringing together, through various prisms, these disparate perspectives in ways that enable more effective, just and timely climate action.

While scientists know ever more about the physical climate and how humans are disrupting it, societal and political understandings and decisive action on climate change remain as elusive as ever. Beginning from this difficult truth, MSc Climate Futures is motivated by a desire and need to begin moving beyond current approaches to climate action by first giving learners a better grasp of the interdisciplinary dynamics and depths of the challenge, bringing together and going beyond existing siloed approaches, offering conceptual understanding and practical tools to move forward in new ways – not simply rehearsing existing frameworks of problems and solutions.
Leeds has a tradition for being an externally facing impact-driven organisation, and is uniquely positioned to offer this innovate MSc due to our unparalleled level of climate expertise compared to any other UK University. The Priestley International Centre for Climate, advises the vast majority of UK Government departments, UN climate negotiations and big business. Furthermore, Leeds hosts the New Centre for Transdisciplinary Methodology. In short, Leeds is an international leader in research-led science-and-society climate scholarship, and is the historical home of ‘post-normal science’ ideas about knowledge creation in high-risk, high uncertainty arenas.

The proposed programme is distinctive because existing climate Master’s degrees usually sit within one discipline or cluster of disciplines that share many assumptions and methods and are neither mainstreamed, nor transdisciplinary (see Thew et al., 2021). Some inter-disciplinary climate Masters programmes exist, but these are usually structured into ‘pathways’ of specialism that fall within one disciplinary tradition, often heavily skewed towards science-led policy with only a small number of Arts and Humanities-focused offerings. MSc Climate Futures spans and integrates both the social and natural dimensions of climate change. Our bespoke modules have been specifically designed to authentically reflect interactions between diverse perspectives in concrete societal contexts.

The programme will equip learners with the transdisciplinary knowledge and tools to become facilitators of climate action. The programme’s transdisciplinary construction breaks new ground in understanding and tackling twenty-first century climate change. Learners will be exposed to multiple perspectives from world-leading climate experts across campus, directly tapping into the unique depth and breadth of climate research at the University of Leeds. Learners will be trained in the ability to see and tackle climate-posed problems from multiple angles, producing holistic, strategic thinkers who are uniquely equipped to facilitate transformative action.
Escaping the restrictive and traditional model of UK Higher Education, which is often di sciplinarily bounded aiming to achieve narrower specialism at postgraduate level within a single subject area, this programme seeks to broaden learners’ knowledge base and equip them with the lifelong skills for collaborative, iterative, critical, problem-solving and teamwork. No pre-requisite knowledge is required for this programme.
This programme integrates the traditionally disparate fields of climate science, social science and politics, roughly in equal measure. Semester 1 provides an interdisciplinary landing platform for all learners to begin their journeys into the complexities and challenges of climate change as a ‘wicked problem’ involving mutual interactions between social and natural systems. Diversity in learners’ experiences and knowledges will be celebrated, adding breadth to existing knowledge and skill bases, while building onto learners’ existing expertise. Students will be equipped with the core empirical knowledge, and conceptual and analytical skills in social, political and natural science disciplines required to undertake the thematic modules in Semester 2 and the Capstone Project in Semester 3.

The first semester is devoted to broadening and deepening learners’ knowledge with two compulsory 30-credit modules and applied activities designed to develop learners’ interdisciplinary team working and academic skills. The Capstone Project also begins in this semester, including a residential field course for students to get to know their instructors and peers in a cross-disciplinary setting.
Semester 2 is geared around problem-based themes, in which students start to shape their perspective on and approaches to challenges posed by climate change. Learners will select two modules from a choice of four 30-credit electives. These build on the interdisciplinary climate literacy established in Semester 1 to address directly transdisciplinary themes from the public, private or third sectors, and achieve deeper specialisation within chosen topics, centred around the four key concepts of risk, development, security and justice, respectively.
Focusing solely on the capstone project in Semester 3, students will work individually and in teams on their particular interest with guidance from an interdisciplinary supervisory (‘mentor’) team. This marks the culmination of the programme, encapsulating multi-faceted, real-life working culture and skills in a flexible and diverse framework.

The programme will adopt a blended approach to learning, developing digital offerings alongside immersive face-to-face teaching. Digital teaching will include the provision of basis material to bring students from a range of backgrounds up to an expected core level of knowledge and understanding, which they can access flexibly to suit their needs and existing knowledge. Face-to-face activities with teaching staff will develop depth of knowledge and the ability to apply it in a range of practical and theoretical situations. Thus,student contact time focuses on experiential learning, including research skills & Continuing Professional Development (CPD) tutorials, challenge-based workshops (e.g. seminars, debates, hackathons, discussions, role-play), practical work (e.g. field work and computer analysis), oral/poster presentations. Recognising the diversity in student backgrounds, learning will be supported with additional academic skills and employability-related training.

Residential fieldwork will immerse learners in multi-disciplinary methods, language and cultures. Embedded in the physical, social and political sciences, the course will foster effective communication and collaboration between individuals, maximising different strengths and backgrounds. Additional fieldwork will continue the programme of experiential learning, providing further opportunities to specialise in using industry-grade equipment and cutting-edge approaches to understanding and communicati a natural and social challenge, for example in conjunction with the University of Leeds farm and woodlands, renewable energy and transport infrastructure projects, and various conservation/re-wilding projects.

Year1 - View timetable

[Learning Outcomes, Transferable (Key) Skills, Assessment]

Compulsory modules:

Candidates will be required to study the following compulsory modules: 

SOEE5860MPhysical climate change, impacts and mitigation30 creditsSemester 1 (Sep to Jan)
SOEE5870MSocial and Political Dimensions of the Climate Challenge30 creditsSemester 1 (Sep to Jan)
SOEE5880MEngaging with Climate Change: Capstone Project60 credits1 Sep to 31 Aug (12mth)

Optional modules:

Basket 1: Candidates will be required to study TWO modules from the following optional modules: 

SOEE5862MClimate and Development30 creditsSemester 2 (Jan to Jun)
SOEE5864MClimate Justice30 creditsSemester 2 (Jan to Jun)
SOEE5866MClimate Security30 creditsSemester 2 (Jan to Jun)
SOEE5868MClimate Risk30 creditsSemester 2 (Jan to Jun)

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:09:45


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