Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

SOES6079 Climate and Climate Change

Module Overview

This module is designed to give a fundamental understanding of the Earth's climate and use this to examine topical issues in climate change research. A hands-on approach enables you to apply your newly learned skills to real-world problems quickly.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Outline the fundamental processes that control equilibrium climate and are relevant to past and ongoing climate change.
  • Identify mechanisms that stabilise or destabilise the climate system and relate this to climate sensitivity and irreversible climate change.
  • Critically analyse the recent literature on a range of topical issues in climate science.
  • Compare and critically evaluate uncertainties in different tools and evidence types for investigating the climate system, including climate models, geological archives and observational datasets.
  • Identify, discuss and compare natural and anthropogenic periods of climate change, including future climate projections.


Fundamental Thermodynamics of atmosphere and ocean - Laws of thermodynamics applied to the atmosphere and ocean - Static stability, lapse rates and the structure of the atmosphere The Earth’s Energy balance, - Albedo and greenhouse effect - Climate feedbacks and sensitivity Climate as a System - Stable and unstable steady states - Bifurcation, hysteresis and chaos Hysteresis in the climate system: fundamentals, and examples such as: - Greenland ice sheet - Snowball Earth - How Hysteresis can give rise to ‘tipping points’ during periods of climate change Dynamics of the atmosphere and ocean - Laws of motion applied to the atmosphere and ocean - Large-scale circulation and variability of atmosphere and ocean Meridional Overturning Circulation of the ocean - Driving processes and control on climate - Instability, hysteresis, past and future change The global climate system from the geological past to the anthropogenic future - Evidence from observations and models - Variability on a range of timescales - Future climate change

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

- A series of short (less than 15 minute) lectures introducing new topics - A series of short interactive sessions building on these using e.g. online quizzes and feedback, small group online discussion and feedback - A series of short (less than 15 minute) lectures adding depth to key topics, and providing key references - 11 remote practical Teams sessions. Class sizes will be managed to ensure effective on-line teaching - Independent reading of scientific literature - Teaching staff will offer optional one-to-one sessions with students throughout the module

Independent Study94
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Formative assessment is provided during practical classes.


MethodPercentage contribution
Literature review  (2000 words) 50%
Practical assignment 50%
Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings