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The University of Southampton

CENV6147 Climate Change, Energy and Settlements

Module Overview

Sustainable development is a major international challenge and relates to historical, environmental and economic changes. This module focuses on the relationships between settlements, resources, climate and energy through history. It introduces students to the basics of human evolution, from the pre-industrial world to today’s high fossil fuel society. Building on this knowledge, students will develop ideas and concepts towards sustainable lifestyles and resource and energy efficiency. Only students enrolled on programme codes 3081MSc Energy and Sustainability, Pathway 3086 Energy Resources and Climate Change and 3081 MSc Energy and Sustainability, Pathway 3087 Energy Environment and Buildings will be permitted to register on this module.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To establish the basics of the evolution of society and human settlements in relation to the wider climate and environment. It will focus on the relationships of society and settlements and how these relate to energy availability and energy consumption throughout history up to today. It will include the analysis of the potential implications of climate change on society, addressing climate theory, observational evidence and mitigation / adaptation strategies. Students will analyse and critically assess human settlements and buildings in their socio-economical context in order to be able to develop concepts for the future that address aspects of climate and energy efficiency in relation to today’s society. Furthermore, they will be able to deepen their understanding of the interrelation of society, climate and energy in a design project.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The importance of learning from vernacular structures as well as the climatic and environmental conditions for developing modern design solutions which consume minimal resources. [SM7M, SM9M, EA6M, EA7M]
  • Current climate change science predictions and the potential impacts of climate change on buildings, settlements, energy demand and supply systems. [SM7M, P9m]
  • Desk based research using various forms of media spanning the fields of architecture, engineering, history and social sciences. [EA7M, G1]
  • The relationship of climate, environment, technology, society and its manifestation in buildings and settlement structures Intellectual skills. [SM7M, SM9M, EL9M, P12M]
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically review climate change science predictions. [SM7M]
  • Conduct a thorough literature research of a given research topic. [G1, G2]
  • Analyse and critically assess the climatic, environmental, technical and societal conditions that have led to specific building designs and settlement forms. [SM9M, D10M, EL9M]
  • Defend a chosen engineering solution in terms of its relationship with the climate and environment. [SM7M, SM9M, EA6M, EA7M, D9M, D10M, D11M, EL9M, EL10M, EL11M, P12M, P10m]
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Problem analysis and problem solving. [G1]
  • Research and independent study. [G1, G2]
  • Exercise independent judgement. [EA6M, D11M, EL9M]
  • Oral presentation. [G1]
  • Plan and organise both time and resources. [EL10M, G1..G4]
  • Group work. [G4]
  • Graphical presentation of a design concept/approach. [G1]
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to present and defend individual research. [SM7M, SM9M, EA6M, EA7M, D9M, D10M, D11M, EL9M, EL10M, EL11M, P12M, P10m]
  • Develop and present a poster design to convey a design/engineering concept/approach. [G1, G4]
  • Write a well-structured, clear and concise research report. [G1..G4]


This module links the development of society to the surrounding climatic conditions and investigates its use of energy to achieve comfortable living and working conditions in its buildings and settlements. It will comprise the following: 1. An introduction to the Earth’s climate system and climatic zones as basis for human activity and settlements. 2. The development of society in relation to the local climatic and topographic conditions, resources availability (food, building material, energy), technical skills and the societal framework. 3. The conditions for development, evolution and collapse of civilisations. 4. The development and organisation of human settlements addressing aspects of location, society, advantages to individuals, form, function, design and organisation principles. 5. An assessment of population development and its implications on settlements, buildings and resource consumption with particular focus on energy consumption. 6. Discussion of how energy systems contribute to the shaping of society and the conditions that resulted in the agricultural and industrial revolution. 7. An introduction to climate science looking at historical and recent observations, climate modelling and climate change predictions. 8. The assessment of global and regional climate change implications and associated mitigation / adaptation strategies. 9. The concepts of sustainability, ecological and carbon foot printing.

Special Features

Field trips to Weald and Downland Open Air Museum and Eling Tide Mill can be adapted as required.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module consists of lectures and tutorial sessions related to the assignments detailed below. Lectures will concentrate on the themes given above with the expectation that the students conduct further private study. A selected field trip will complement the lecture content. This is usually to the Weald and Downland open air museum near Chichester.

Wider reading or practice20
External visits5
Completion of assessment task90
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

IPCC (2007). Climate Change 2007: Contributions of Working Groups I, 2 and 3 to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.. 

Pelsmakers S (2012). The Environmental Design Pocketbook. 

Roaf, S. Crichton, D. & Nicol, F., 2005. Adapting Buildings and Cities for Climate Change - A 21st century survival guide.Oxford: Architectural Press - An Imprint of Elsevier.. 

Santamouris, M. (2000). Energy and Climate in the Urban Built Environment.. 

Heywood H., (2012). 101 Rules of Thumb for Low Energy Architecture. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Group presentation 20%
Group report 40%
Individual report 20%
Individual report 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual report 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

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