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Climate Change: Science and Mitigation


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7 
  • Convenor: Dr Becky Briant
  • Assessment: a take-home examination (40%) and 3000-word essay (60%)

Module description

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of recent times. According to Birkbeck’s Dr Becky Briant, ‘The evidence is pretty strong that we are causing the changes we’re seeing.’

In this module you will gain an overview of the science and politics of past climate change, future climate change modelling and climate change mitigation. Not only will you have the chance to study the science behind climate change and the role of human activity in creating this phenomenon, you will also learn about the key issues in tackling the rise in global temperature and ways in which we can mitigate and adapt to its impacts.

Indicative syllabus

  • Greenhouse gases: impacts, concentrations, changes
  • Evidence for past climate changes: geological timescales and hockey stick; evidence for recent human-induced changes and the ‘slowdown’
  • The climate system
  • Climate modelling
  • The science behind sea level rise
  • Mitigation: setting targets, negative emissions and net zero/planetary boundaries/geoengineering
  • International political climate change institutions
  • UNFCCC Conference of the Parties negotiation role play

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • understand the functioning of the climate system and the parameters within which change happens
  • critically evaluate the evidence for human-induced climate change
  • understand the principles of climate modelling and projections and evaluate model output
  • understand the science of climate change mitigation
  • critically engage with the political institutions and ethical issues associated with mitigating climate change.