This course will equip you with the transdisciplinary knowledge and tools to become facilitators of innovative climate action. The course breaks new ground in the race to understand, mitigate and adapt to twenty-first century climate change.
Through our programme of active learning, you’ll engage with multiple perspectives from world-leading climate experts across campus, directly tapping into the unique depth and breadth of climate research at the University of Leeds. You'll acquire a trailblazing ability to see and tackle climate-posed problems from multiple angles, becoming a holistic, strategic thinker, uniquely equipped to facilitate transformative action. No pre-requisite knowledge is required for this course.
Semester 1 provides an interdisciplinary landing platform for you to begin your journey into the complexities and challenges of climate change as a whole. Diversity in students’ experiences and knowledges will be celebrated, adding breadth to your existing knowledge and skill base, while building onto your current expertise.
Teaching in this semester will equip you with the core conceptual, empirical and analytical skills in social, political and natural science disciplines required to undertake subsequent specialist modules. This will include a residential field course that will immerse you in practical climate-based solutions, building strong relationships with your peers and instructors and practicing core transdisciplinary knowledge and skills. The rest of the semester will be devoted to following up this knowledge with drop-in skills workshops and two compulsory 30-credit modules.
The second semester is geared around problem-based learning, provoking you to start creating your own innovative approaches to challenges posed by climate change. You'll select two modules from a choice of 30-credit electives based on the outcomes you want to achieve and roles you want to play in addressing climate change. These modules will build on the interdisciplinary foundation already established to directly address transdisciplinary themes from the public, private or third sectors, and achieve deeper specialisation within chosen topics.
In semester 3, the capstone project equips you to actively address a climate challenge with mentorship from an interdisciplinary team. The module is designed to guide you through building a track record in identifying and enacting positive solutions in a team, while developing and showcasing your unique individual strengths and professional skills.
Residential fieldwork in the UK will immerse you in multi-disciplinary methods, language and cultures. Embedded in the physical, social and political sciences, the course will foster effective communication and collaboration between individuals, maximising different strengths and backgrounds.
You'll undertake observational and experimental activities to characterise environmental conditions and will conduct social science research into interventions for acting on climate change, including related policy and planning processes, and public acceptance issues.
Additional fieldwork will continue the programme of experiential learning. This will give you further opportunities to specialise in using industry-grade equipment and cutting-edge approaches to understanding and communicating climate change as a natural and social challenge, for example in conjunction with the University of Leeds farm and woodlands, renewable energy and transport infrastructure projects, and various conservation/re-wilding projects.
The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.
<p><h3>Modules</h3><p><strong>Compulsory modules</strong></p><p>The compulsory modules will develop your core practical and critical analytical skills and methods in social, political and natural sciences to enable deeper cross-disciplinary specialisation later in the course. Learning in the semester 1 modules will be kept in step, and the topics will be regularly bridged, through the residential field course and interdisciplinary challenge-based workshops as part of the 60-credit capstone project module.</p><p><strong>Physical Climate Change, Impacts and Mitigation </strong>– <strong>30 credits</strong></p><p>You’ll be introduced to the natural sciences behind climate change, the history of climatology and the philosophy and sociology of science, establishing a scientific literacy that is essential for understanding and responding to climate change. Teaching will be immersive and practical, taking a problem-solving approach to equip you with a range of methods and strategies to understand the physical and natural science behind climate change.</p><p><strong>Social and Political Dimensions of the Climate Challenge </strong>– <strong>30 credits</strong></p><p>You’ll be equipped to reflect critically on current approaches to tackling climate change, including mitigation, adaptation and governance. The module introduces essential social analytical tools for navigating diverse climate knowledge disciplines and understanding and critiquing competing approaches to social and technical transformation.</p><p><strong>Engaging with Climate Change: Capstone Project </strong>– <strong>60 credits</strong></p><p>You’ll take part in a residential field course and regular practical and problem-solving workshops to develop your research and communications skills. The module will enhance your opportunity to put into practice the language, theory and research methods to communicate and enact change across disciplines, with a focus on employability skills. Building on these skills and drawing upon your individual strengths, you’ll undertake a capstone project, with support from mentors, to pursue and develop your specific interests, shedding new light on a climate-related challenge of your choice.</p><p><strong>Optional modules</strong></p><p>You’ll study any two of the following four optional modules, each exploring a particular perspective on the climate challenge facing society today. This will build on the breadth of knowledge, approaches and methods gained in semester 1, providing more focused subject specialism and expertise. You’ll engage with specific case studies to learn about the underpinning scientific, social and political concepts, covering the response of the natural world to climate change, relevant climate technologies and communications, social mobilisations and issues of policy and governance. No pre-requisite knowledge is required for any of these modules.</p><p><strong>Climate Risk </strong>– <strong>30 credits</strong></p><p>This module explores the science and politics of climate change as a risk management challenge and how it’s framed in terms of probabilistic future scenarios involving assessments of impacts, vulnerabilities and approaches to risk mitigation and adaptation that balance costs and benefits. It will also give you a critical understanding of the dominant approach of climate change policy.</p><p><strong>Climate Security </strong>– <strong>30 credits</strong></p><p>This module explores the challenge of navigating perils of a climate emergency. Understanding climate change as a question of securing threatened natural and social systems directs attention towards worst case impacts and scenarios (including tipping points), potential extraordinary and emergency measures.</p><p><strong>Climate and Development </strong>– <strong>30 credits</strong></p><p>This module explores the many ways in which climate change intersects with the challenge of global development, sustainable livelihoods and related goals like poverty reduction, equality, health and food security with a focus on the Global South. It critiques colonial notions of modernisation and climate action.</p><p><strong>Climate Justice </strong>– <strong>30 credits</strong></p><p>This module explores how climate change – and plans to tackle it – inevitably have complex repercussions for social and natural systems, and therefore involve multi-dimensional questions of justice and fairness. This includes the (re)distribution of goods, resources, risks and power between and within nation states. It considers a range of solutions coming from governance approaches, legislation and grass roots action/activism.</p></p>
Learning and teaching
The programme will adopt a blended approach to learning, developing digital offerings alongside immersive face-to-face teaching.
You'll be provided with the basis material you’ll need to give you the core level of knowledge and understanding needed for the course, no matter what your background, followed up with digital materials to assess your own level of learning.
Traditional lecture-style content will be delivered digitally (e.g., as screencasts) and through the reinforcement of clearly structured core preparatory reading that maps onto the online and face-to-face activities directly. Your time with teaching staff will be spent in face-to-face group sessions, including research skills & Continuing Professional Development (CPD) tutorials, challenge-based workshops (e.g. seminars, debates, hackathons, discussions), practical work (e.g. laboratory work, fieldwork and computer-based sessions) and oral/poster presentations.
Recognising the diversity in student backgrounds, learning will be supported with opt-in drop-in sessions to offer additional help with academic skills, as well as opt-in blended delivery of employability-related training.
Specialist facilities and resources
As a university, we are heavily involved in sustainability and tackling climate change, which means we have a range of specialist facilities and industry-grade equipment, much of which is used to inform our research.
Through our programme of immersive teaching, you’ll engage with our observational and experimental facilities; such as farms, woodlands, rewilding projects, renewable energy projects, remote and in-situ instrumentation operated in conjunction with the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and our outdoor centre situated in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. You’ll also have access to the Atmosphere and Critical Zone Observatory, laboratories and high-performance computation too.
Our Virtual Learning Environment will help to support your studies: it’s a central place where you can find all the information and resources for the School, your programme and modules.
You can also benefit from support to develop your academic skills, within the curriculum and through online resources, workshops, one-to-one appointments and drop-in sessions.
Active research environment
Learn from and work with the experts. The University of Leeds is home to several world leading research institutes on climate change and sustainability, working to tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges. Throughout your degree you'll be taught by leaders in their fields and will be directly engaged with their cutting-edge research.
Academics and researchers teaching on this course are based in or working with:
- Priestley International Centre for Climate Change, a world-leading centre for policy-relevant, solution-driven climate research advising the vast majority of UK Government departments, large corporations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UN climate negotiations (UNFCCC COPs), including Action for Climate Empowerment, i.e. on climate change education, training and public participation.
- Place-based Climate Action Network, working to deliver climate policies on a global to local scale and the Centre for Global Development which addresses the transformation of human societies in response to critical global challenges such as poverty, inequality and climate change.
- Transformational projects on climate and environmental action, such as Living Labs, Sustainability Service and Geosolutions.
- United Bank of Carbon and the White Rose Forest who are protecting, planting and restoring trees and forests both in the UK and across the world.
- Climate Commissions for Leeds and Yorkshire and Humber, which bring together public, private and third sector stakeholders to facilitate ambitious steps towards a low carbon, climate-resilient future.
- Centre for Global Security Challenges, which fosters interdisciplinary links across the university around the theme of security as it relates to issues including climate change, global health and political violence.
- National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, both based in Leeds and two of only six research centres funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, providing its core research into atmospheric and polar research.
- Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, which is the UK’s most diverse academic institute for atmospheric research, and the UK Met Office, who provide concrete meteorological information for making short and long-term decisions on environmental resilience.
The wider programme team is made up of experts from a variety of relevant disciplines such as climate science, social studies and politics.
On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.
You’ll be assessed using a broad range of methods that will not only test your knowledge but will give you first-hand experience in producing and completing ‘real-world’ tasks.
Each assessment has been carefully designed to provide you with diverse opportunities to develop and demonstrate key transferrable skills that will prepare you for your career, whilst gaining deeper insights into the topics being discussed in each module.