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The University of Southampton

GEOG2032 Global Climate Change: Science, Impacts and Policy

Module Overview

The topic is addressed from three perspectives: the science of climate change, impact and adaptation, and policy towards adaptation and mitigation. One of the pre-requisites for GEOG3057

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the nature of long-term change in the climate system and the ways this can be represented.
  • Abstract and synthesize information on climate change from a range of different sources.
  • Understand the importance of spatial variation in projected climate change and its anticipated societal impacts
  • Appreciate particular issues and challenges of multidisciplinary approaches to climate change studies.
  • Produce a fluent written topical synthesis.
  • Be acquainted with the concepts of experimentation, data assessment, and the visualization of complex data
  • Pursue knowledge in an in-depth, ordered, and motivated way.
  • Marshall and retrieve data from library and internet sources.
  • Understand the effect of choice of temporal scale when representing climate change, and the critical role of spatial scale in climate processes and climate modelling
  • Understand the role of climate change in affecting past, present and future variability in environmental conditions.
  • Understand how physical and human processes interact to affect the state of the climate system
  • Understand the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems and how they can be assessed
  • Understand how consequences of and adaptations to climate change can be managed within specific biophysical systems.
  • Understand the major policy implications of climate change
  • Critically review primary literature on climate change and its impacts.
  • Assess merits of contrasting explanations of climate change.


There are three sections to this module: the science of climate change; impacts of climate change; mitigation and politics. The science section covers the nature and basic physics of global climate and climate change, a systems approach to climate (feedbacks and tipping points) and an introduction to climate modelling. It concludes with an examination of the findings of the IPCC working group 1 (science), including observations of climate change and climate change simulations. The impacts section uses reponses of biological systems (e.g., phenology, reef systems, the Arctic system) and key systems that support human society (e.g., food production and food security, water resources) as example of climate change impacts, current or anticipated. Topics vary yearly. The final section covers the politics of climate change, which is a critical and contentious area. It assesses legislation, international agreements, adaptation, mitigation, and societal and personal attitudes to the issue of climate change. Topics vary yearly. For example, in 2015, there was a focus on the COP21 Paris Climate Summit and its outcomes.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module uses lectures as the primary teaching and learning mode. Slides are strongly visual. Students are provided with study notes that indicate references and readings that support lecture material.

Independent Study120
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Dessler, A. E (2012). Introduction to modern climate change. 

Boyd E, and Tompkins EL. (2010). Climate Change. A Beginner’s Guide. 

Houghton, J. (2015). Global warming: the complete briefing. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Coursework 20%
Coursework  () 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Prerequisites: GEOG1001 OR GEOG1002 OR SOES1008

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