Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

NATS2001 Creating an atmosphere: from pea-soupers to climate change

Module Overview

The chemical and photochemical processes that occur in the atmosphere at different altitudes have profound and fundamental effects on life. An understanding of the societal implications that may result from natural as well as anthropogenic perturbations of atmospheric processes is essential for the formulation and evaluation of mitigation actions.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • a broad overview of the evolution and composition of earth’s atmosphere
  • critical analysis skills in the application of chemical principles to explain concepts such as climate change and global warming
  • a sound understanding of cyclic chemical processes in different parts of the atmosphere (troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere)
  • a broad overview of the coupling between large scale circulation/transport and chemical processes
  • a good knowledge of photochemical and chemical reactions of atmospheric importance
  • a good understanding of the principles of chemical kinetics
  • a good understanding of the effect of anthropogenic chemical species on atmospheric processes (e.g. ozone depletion, photochemical smog)
  • a critical overview of predictions of the effect of changes in atmospheric processes on climate
  • a critical appreciation of the ethical issues and likely societal impacts that stem from different actions aimed at mitigating climate change and atmospheric pollution
  • strategies for acquiring, collating, interpreting, evaluating and presenting complex technical information from cutting-edge research publications


The philosophy underlying this module is to empower students to take charge of their own learning in the area of climate change and atmospheric science. As a consequence the course will make extensive use of directed and peer-assisted self-learning methods. This module will be delivered within the context of linked three focus areas: Composition & fundamental chemical processes Topics include: evolution of the earth’s atmosphere; composition of troposphere, stratosphere and mesosphere; cyclic chemical processes (carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur cycles); ozone; catalytic cycles; stratospheric pollution; tropospheric pollution/air pollution (smoke, sulphur, acid rain and photochemical smog). Fundamental physical processes Topics include: radiative heating; atmosphere temperature profiles; heat balance of the earth; large-scale circulation patterns (latitudinal and longitudinal circulation features); qualitative geophysical fluid dynamics. Atmosphere, climate and society Topics include how atmosphere affects climate climate and the biosphere; major sources of tropospheric pollution; climate models; climates of the future; climate change mitigation actions; societal effects of climate change mitigation.

Learning and Teaching

Independent Study100
Total study time150



Workshop activities


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 70%
Research proposal 30%
Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings