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Global Climate Change: The past, present & future

Key information

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Module description

This module begins by exploring palaeoclimate processes, links between climate and culture and how we use past analogues to constrain future trajectories. We then explore the state-of-the-art theory around current trends and climate models and how we use their outputs and quantify sources of uncertainty to best inform policy and mitigation. The final portion of the module considers future climate change and extremes and possible impacts on society.

Topics covered in the lectures and practical sessions include:

  •  Tectonic, orbital and millennial scale climate variability
  •  Palaeoclimatological extremes
  •  Holocene climate & cultural responses
  •  Detection & attribution of recent climate change
  •  Predicting future climate change
  •  Future habitability on Earth

This module will be of particular interest to students interested in global climate change, the myriad sources of climate data and their potential applications and how projections are developed.
Students will develop relevant skills for careers in environmental consultancy, NGOs or government organisations dealing with environmental issues, especially focussed on climate change.

Assessment details

2 x coursework assessments (50% each): one 2000-word Essay and one 1500-word Briefing

Educational aims & objectives

This module will critically review the nature and drivers of global climate change over a range of timescales: geological, recent past, present day and potential future scenarios. Students will acquire in-depth exposure to theory and techniques, leading to a better understanding of the causes and consequences of global climate change in isolation and as a whole. We will consider the nature and drivers of global climate across multiple temporal and spatial scales as well as interactions between climate and culture. We will explore how palaeoclimate provides insights into understanding recent and future climate change, the cutting-edge tools used by climate scientists, sources of uncertainty within climate datasets, and predictions of future climate extremes.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should have a thorough understanding of the key factors affecting past and current climate change as well as future scenarios and associated uncertainty. The module will review the nature and drivers of global climate across multiple temporal and spatial scales. By covering variability and change within different parts of the Earth System and the respective influence of natural variability and anthropogenic activity, the module will provide the scientific background necessary to better understand the causes and consequences of global climate change in isolation and as a whole

Teaching pattern

20 hours lectures & practical classes

Module description disclaimer

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

Please note that the module descriptions above are related to the current academic year and are subject to change.