MSc Climate Change

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We have been awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for 50 years of ground-breaking environmental science at UEA. The royal accolade from the Queen is the UK’s most prestigious higher education award.

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Key facts

Environmental Sciences has been ranked 4th in the UK, 11th in Europe and 40th in the World according to the QS World University Rankings 2018.

Key facts

You will automatically be considered for one of our scholarships, such as the Amar-Frances and Foster-Jenkins Trust Scholarship worth £7000.

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Poor countries to bear brunt of climate change despite emitting least CO2.

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Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere have reached a milestone at the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Halley Research Station in Antarctica – according to UEA and BAS scientists.

Image: Tom Welsh, British Antarctic Survey

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Develop your scientific skills and knowledge and act on your concern about climate change through an MSc that’s never been more essential. Climate change and variability has played a major role in shaping human history – and the prospect of global warming as a result of human activity will present us with demanding challenges over the coming decades.

This MSc in Climate Change is designed to provide you with in-depth interdisciplinary knowledge of climate change science, society and policy. You’ll have the freedom to direct your studies depending on your interests and career destination.

As a graduate of this course you will have strong employability potential in many areas including academic research, business consultancies, industry, policy-making, or government research agencies.

Overview

Based in the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the School of Environmental Sciences (ENV), this course will give you an authoritative understanding of climate change – including recent climate history, present-day variations and climate prediction.

Through different modules you’ll discover the fundamentals of the changing climate, including the Earth’s energy balance, the general circulation of the atmosphere, causes of climate change and variability and the greenhouse effect. You will also learn about research methods, consisting of empirical approaches to climate reconstruction (e.g. tree ring analysis), data preparation and analysis, detection of anthropogenic changes and theoretical or model-based approaches to climate prediction. You will study the evidence and causes of recent climate change with a focus on the period from 1 AD to the present, including the atmospheric buildup of greenhouse gases and its consequences for the behaviour of the Earth system.

You’ll also explore how climate change impacts on the environment and society, understand the complex links between energy use and climate, and prospects for emissions control at the national and international level.

Course Structure

On this course you’ll take two compulsory modules each worth 20 credits.  “Physical basis of climate change” and “Energy and Climate”- which are designed so that together you’ll achieve an understanding of climate change from its origins in human activity, through the physical science underpinning its effects on our world, to the science behind the reduction of emissions to mitigate change.

“Physical Basis of climate change” covers the physical science of climate change and our current understanding of anthropogenic effects on climate, while “Energy and Climate” examines how current energy resources, technologies and services produce greenhouse gas emissions, drawing on both historical evidence and theories of change to explore prospects and potentials for transforming the energy system.

You’ll then choose three other 20-credit modules. Our setting within the school of Environmental Sciences is designed to provide you with both in-depth and interdisciplinary knowledge of climate science giving you the freedom to focus more on either the natural or social sciences.

You will also complete a research dissertation looking at the general area covered by the compulsory elements of the course. It’s worth 20 credits from the Research Skills module and 60 credits for the dissertation.

Teaching and Learning

Teaching

This high quality degree programme combines intellectual challenge with relevance to current environmental issues. Through choosing your own taught modules, you’ll create a course that suits your own interests and career goals. All of our teaching is informed by up to date research, helping you to become familiar with today’s most pressing issues.

You’ll be trained in the techniques of climate research and gain an authoritative and up-to-date view of natural and anthropogenic climatic change. You’ll also look at climate history, present-day climate variation and climate prediction, and the impacts of climate variability on human welfare and the natural world.

Independent study

This course will give you an excellent balance of independent thinking and study skills, helping you grow into a self-motivated learner, an expert researcher and an analytical thinker.

You will develop accuracy and precision in your written work through organising evidence, and become confident in time management, organisation and self-directed study.

Assessment

We’ll use a variety of assessment methods across different modules – ranging from 100% coursework to part-examination, depending on the modules you choose.

Our coursework assessment methods include essays, written discussions, class tests, problem sheets, laboratory reports, field exercises, and seminar presentations. Skills-based modules and field modules are assessed by 100% coursework.

Essays and reports give us the chance to assess how well your bibliographic material has been obtained and discussed, problem solving and project-based work allows us to assess your numerical and practical skills, while field-based modules help us assess your practical skills.

After the course

Our MSc Climate Change programme will open the doors to a wide variety of careers. You could go into environmental consultancy, postgraduate research (ie PhDs), fundamental or applied academic research, local government, utilities, health, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), climate impacts and policy, scientific publishing, or government research agencies, to name a few.

Career destinations

Examples of careers that you could entre include;

  • Australian Bureau of Meteorology
  • Barclays
  • National Grid
  • University of Oxford
  • Nature Publishing Group
  • WWF Nepal

Course related costs

Please see Additional Course Fees for details of course-related costs.

Course Modules 2018/9

Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits

CLIMATE CHANGE: PHYSICAL SCIENCE BASIS

Climate change and variability have played major roles in shaping human history, and the prospect of human-caused global warming is a pressing challenge for society. But how and why has climate changed, how do we predict future climate and how do our choices affect future climate? Throughout this module, you will learn how climate science can answer these questions. Discover the approaches, methods and techniques for understanding the history of climate change and for developing climate projections for the next 100 years. You'll also explore the scientific evidence about climate change and where the uncertainties lie. Starting with an introduction to the changing climate and the main themes in current climate research, your study will be structured around three topics. (1) Fundamentals of the changing climate including the Earth's energy balance, causes of climate change and the greenhouse effect. (2) Research methods, consisting of empirical approaches to climate reconstruction (such as tree-ring research), analysis of observational data (focusing on the global temperature record and causes of recent climate change), and an introduction to energy balance models and general circulation models. (3) Climate change and causal mechanisms, concentrating on the period from 1000 CE to the present and climate projections out to 2100 CE. Studying the physical science basis of climate change will enable you to understand what controls our climate, to explain the causes of the changes we have observed, and to interpret projections of future climate change.

ENV-7014A

20

DISSERTATION

The dissertation is an individual research project which you will complete independently under the guidance of an academic supervisor within one of the research groups in the School. In addition, you may also choose to undertake a project placement with an outside organisation, with the possible guidance from an outside collaborator. Research undertaken normally involves the analysis and interpretation of data collected in the field, from measurements of a sample in the laboratory or from data gathered from other sources including the media, questionnaire surveys, interviews, etc. This module is reserved for MSc students and requires you to have completed the Research Skills Module as a prerequisite.

ENV-7120X

60

ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

The premise from which this module starts is that Climate Change is fundamentally an energy systems problem. It will equip you with an in depth understanding of the complexities of changing energy systems, enabling you to critically engage with debates around future "energy transitions" and the role that various technologies might play. Drawing on historical evidence, you will learn about the key relationships between energy, fossil fuels and the economy. Looking forward, you will learn about the role of energy scenarios and the different ways of intervening in energy systems. A key purpose of the module is to explore the significance and potential of technological change, drawing on different theories of innovation to assess the likely effects of emergent technologies. You will learn through lectures, 'hands on' workshops and lively class debates which will equip you with an in-depth understanding of energy system change and its role in addressing climate change.

ENV-7029B

20

RESEARCH SKILLS

This module provides support and training for the Dissertation to ensure that the necessary research is well planned in advance. Advice is given on how to make the best use of UEA library resources, how to undertake a literature review, ethics procedures and how to write a dissertation proposal. A substantial part of semester one is devoted to how to use statistics for the analysis of different types of projects. Supporting lectures and practicals in social science research skills are provided in semester two. These include: social science research design; questionnaire survey design; interviewing techniques; focus groups methods; and techniques analysing qualitative data. This module must be taken before the Dissertation module.

ENV-7119Y

20

Students will select 60 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits

CLIMATE CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT II: GOVERNANCE, POLICY AND SOCIETY

This module critically examines international/national climate change governance, policy and societal impacts from and responses to climate change and climate change policy. The first half of the semester will discuss the history and politics of the international climate change negotiations and then critically examine the way the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change operates. You'll look in detail at several items under negotiation with significant implications for developing countries and we will discuss global carbon markets. The second half of the semester will turn to the interface of climate change and society. It will discuss participatory governance and urban responses to climate change as well as critically examining ethical/justice related debates, the role of energy demand and lifestyle in tackling climate change. The seminars will be interactive and enable you to understand the international negotiating process and ways to engage positively with climate change.

DEV-7051B

20

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT EFFECTIVENESS

Environmental Assessment is considered to be more effective when conducted at strategic levels of decision making, and is usually perceived to have a goal of achieving sustainable development. This module provides experience of conducting a particular form of strategic assessment, Sustainability Appraisal (SA), which incorporates environmental, social and economic considerations into plan making. Through practice of SA, a field course involving hands-on application of environmental assessment techniques, and consideration of effectiveness theory, this module will examine what makes assessment effective. Please note that there will be a charge for attending this field course (in the range of GBP300-GBP400) to cover attendance.

ENV-7021K

20

ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION - SCIENCE, POLICY AND MANAGEMENT

This module engages you in understanding complex interdisciplinary challenges associated with environmental pollution management via detailed studies of selected pollution issues. You will develop skills in quantifying and analysing problems and developing and presenting effective policy responses. Environmental pollution is a growing human footprint on the Earth system and is a contributing factor to major environmental challenges we face today, for example: provision of clean water; the sustainable production of safe food, and; mitigation of impacts on health human and ecological receptors. We will examine 3 major types of environmental pollution, involving the atmosphere, aquatic systems and soils, in depth. Your learning will come through lectures, seminars and self-directed study. There is also some practical work to help you to develop hands-on skills. The seminar discussions will give you the chance to discuss and debate your ideas on competing societal priorities, such as the conflicts between food production and the pollution arising from the use of fertilisers. The assessments are a short essay aimed at a general science audience (33%) and a report (67%). On successful completion of this module you will be able to evaluate complex arguments relating the chemistry and toxicology of pollutants to policy issues, political decisions and social perceptions of the environment. You will develop chemical understanding of pollutants as well as numerical skills and an understanding of how mathematical models assist in predictions of pollutant behaviour. You will also improve your communication of complex evidence and your ideas, empathise with other viewpoints and give balanced evaluation.

ENV-7030B

20

GEOENGINEERING THE CLIMATE: SCIENCE AND POLICY

Study a set of proposed techniques, collective known as geoengineering, that seek to modify the Earth's climate by reducing the degree of anthropogenic radiative forcing, either by reflecting more sunlight back to space or removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This complex, controversial and highly uncertain area of science requires a strongly interdisciplinary approach. The potential role of geoengineering techniques as a complement to mitigation and adaptation in tackling future climate change raises a number of important questions - not least for international policy making - that you will explore.

ENV-7031A

20

GIS AND ITS APPLICATIONS FOR MODELLING ECOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

This module will provide essential GIS tools and principles that will be applied to modelling ecological responses to environmental change. Core GIS skills will be delivered. These include field data collection and extraction of data from national and global databases. It will include the manipulation of such files and particular attention will be paid to understanding the uncertainties associated with such analyses. These skills are important in many areas of ecological and environmental research, but are particularly useful for the creation of variables needed for modelling environmental change. There will be extensive emphasis on practical GIS skills.

ENV-7034A

20

MODELLING ENVIRONMENTAL PROCESSES

The aim of the module is to show how environmental problems may be solved from the initial problem, to mathematical formulation and numerical solution. Problems will be described conceptually, then defined mathematically, then solved numerically via computer programming. The module consists of lectures on numerical methods and computing practicals; the practicals being designed to illustrate the solution of problems using the methods covered in lectures. The module will guide students through the solution of a model of an environmental process of their own choosing. The skills developed in this module are highly valued by prospective employers.

ENV-7003A

20

MODERN METHODS IN AIR POLLUTION SCIENCE

Air pollution is one of the most significant environmental problems of the 21st century, with serious implications for human health, ecosystem and infrastructure damage, as well as global atmospheric and climate change. In this module, you'll study the methods used to monitor air pollutants at urban, regional and global scales, and explore how these measurements are interpreted using a variety of numerical models and graphical tools.

ENV-7040B

20

NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL ECONOMICS

Environmental economics provides a set of tools and principles which can be useful in understanding natural resource management issues. This module introduces you to key principles and tools of environmental economics for students who have not studied the subject previously. It then explores how these principles can be applied to address a number of complex economy-environment problems including climate change, over-fishing and water resources management. In this module you will have the opportunity to practically apply cost-benefit analysis as a framework for decision-making and will gain knowledge on the key non-market valuation techniques that are used to monetarily value environmental goods and services. At the end of the module you will have gained insights into how environmental economics is used in developing natural resource management policy as well as some of the challenges in using environmental economics in policy-making.

ENV-7116B

20

RESEARCH TOPICS IN EARTH SCIENCE

You will engage in Earth science topics at an advanced level and utilise advanced study skills. The module will be strongly research lead and based around your learning. It will involve engagement with appropriate research seminars in the School of Environmental Sciences and directed research on key topics with discussions and seminars. The topics included vary from year to year but they are likely to include topics in sedimentology, palaeoclimate, geological hazards, Earth history, the Earth system. The module will develop your research and communication skills in addition to imparting specialist knowledge. To take this module, you should either be taking MSci in one of the following or already have a BSc degree in Earth Science, Geology, Geophysics, Physical Geography or similar.

ENV-7018A

20

SCIENCE, SOCIETY AND SUSTAINABILITY

How can science and society work better together to solve sustainability challenges? How can society be properly engaged and accounted for in addressing pressing issues like climate change, energy transitions and natural hazards? These questions, that lie at the core of this module, have become major concerns for scientists, governments, businesses, NGOs and citizens the world over. Throughout the module you will gain a rich appreciation of key theories, approaches and practical methods for understanding and improving relations between science, technology and society in sustainability settings. You'll explore the nature of science and how it relates to society. You'll discover a wealth of approaches for public engagement with science, and consider how sustainability can be more effectively governed. You'll also learn how to critically evaluate and communicate these ideas through written, oral and self-reflective means. You'll begin the module by considering how relations between science and society have evolved over time and are viewed differently by different disciplines. The fascinating interdisciplinary field called science and technology studies (STS) will provide a key resource that you will become an expert in as you progress. The module's three main parts will take you on a journey to develop your own critical insights. In part 1 you will consider the nature of science and its relation to society, through examining science controversies like 'climategate' and GM crops. In part 2 you will explore new forms of public engagement with science and technology, such as science communication, deliberative democracy, citizen science, and smart technologies in the home. In part 3 you will study pioneering new ways of governing science and sustainability in fairer and more socially responsible ways, through responsible innovation of climate geoengineering for example. You'll learn through a mixture of lectures, practical classes, in-class debates, and self-directed study. Your new knowledge and skills will be put into practice by creating a blog to communicate your ideas, as well as through written work and presentations. You'll also benefit from the module being taught by staff in the Science, Society and Sustainability (3S) Research Group, which houses some of the world's leading experts on societal engagement with sustainability.

ENV-7038B

20

STABLE ISOTOPE GEOCHEMISTRY

From supernovae and the early condensation of the solar system, through the climate history of the planet and on to studies of stratospheric chemistry, research using stable isotopes has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the processes that shape the Earth. You'll explore the theory and practice of isotope geochemistry, covering analytical methods and mass spectrometry, fractionation processes, and isotope behaviour in chemical cycles in the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere. Teaching is by a mix lectures, student led seminars and practicals, including hands-on experience in the stable isotope laboratory.

ENV-7024A

20

STATISTICS AND MODELLING FOR SCIENTISTS USING R

How do you test a hypothesis? How do you compare biological traits between wild populations? And how do you best test and visualise differences between samples? Scientists use a wide array of methods for statistical analysis and plotting data, and increasingly, these tasks are carried out using R. R is a free programming language for statistical computing and graphics, including general and generalised linear models, time-series analysis, and community analysis, and also specialised analyses in many scientific subfields. Learning R will equip you with a flexible statistical, modelling, and graphics tool. Learning the basics of running R in the RStudio programming environment, you'll spend most of your time on general and generalised linear models, which unify the range of statistical tests that are classically taught separately: t-test, ANOVA, regression, logistic regression, and chi-square, plus residuals analysis. Additionally, you'll learn how to use R to write simple programs and carry out community analyses such as principal components analysis. Finally, throughout the class, you'll learn R methods for data formatting, graphics, and documentation. On successful completion of this module you'll be able to use R to carry out and present results from the most widely used statistical tests in current scientific practice, giving you sufficient knowledge to continue learning statistical analysis on your own. A pre-requisite of first and/or second year statistical modules is required.

ENV-7033B

20

SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION

If everyone on Earth lived like a typical UK citizen we'd need three planets-worth of resources. But we only have one. Why do we consume the way we do? What drives our behaviour and how might we persuade people to live more sustainably? What do we mean by a sustainable lifestyle, anyway? These are questions academics, businesspeople, campaigners and policymakers struggle with every day and there are no easy answers. In this module you'll get to grips with competing visions about what sustainable consumption is. You'll gain an understanding of a range of theoretical approaches to understanding consumption behaviour and you'll learn how to apply these theories to develop strategies for achieving sustainable consumption. You'll begin by examining the impacts of western-style consumerism on the Earth's social, economic and environmental systems. Using concepts such as ecological footprinting, needs and wellbeing, you'll take a closer look at how economic and environmental systems interact. You'll contrast a 'green growth' approach to sustainable consumption with a more radical 'de-growth' model. Drawing on interdisciplinary social science theories from economics, psychology, sociology and ethnography, you'll go on to investigate a range of strategies for achieving change, by government, business, civil society, and individual consumers. You'll get hands-on experience testing and applying these ideas yourselves, in participative workshops, alongside award-winning innovative teaching methods. In lectures, you'll learn about topics such as Ethical Consumption, Limits to Growth, Collaborative Consumption, Community-based initiatives, Life Cycle Analysis and Behaviour-change campaigns. Understanding the theoretical debates behind everyday actions for sustainability will make you better able to design and implement sustainability strategies in the workplace - whether in the public or private sector, or civil society. You'll be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses in sustainable consumption campaigns and policies, and offer theoretically-informed solutions.

ENV-7025A

20

THEORY OF ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

Environmental assessment is a term used to describe procedures for evaluating the potential environmental consequences of policies, programmes, plans and projects. It is a well established tool for environmental policy integration, being routinely employed in more than 100 nations and by many international aid and funding agencies. This multidisciplinary module focuses on the theory and methods of environmental assessment and the decision-making contexts in which they are employed. It explains the procedural stages of, and selected methodologies for, environmental assessment and provides practical experience in applying them.

ENV-7020A

20

Disclaimer

Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject This programme is open to students with a good first degree in environmental science or a related discipline.
  • Degree Classification Good first degree (minimum 2.1 or equivalent)

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 62 (minimum 55 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact intopre-sessional@uea.ac.uk

Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees for 2018/19

Tuition fees for the academic year 2018/19 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,550
  • International Students: £15,800

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

International applicants from outside the EU may need to pay a deposit.

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.

Scholarships

A variety of Scholarships may be offered to UK/EU and International students. Scholarships are normally awarded to students on the basis of academic merit and are usually for the duration of the period of study. Please click here for more detailed information about funding for prospective students.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

You can apply online, or by downloading the application form.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515
Email: admissions@uea.ac.uk

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries:
    admissions@uea.ac.uk or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515