Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Climate Change: Science, Social Impacts and Regulation

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Environmental Management and Planning

DESCRIPTION The unit will address both the scientific aspects of this global environmental issue, as well as dimensions of management, policy and governance. This unit of study is aimed at introducing students to the global climate as a continuous change of flux, to the current rate and direction of recent changes and of predicted changes. The physical mechanisms by which climate change occurs will be explained, and the extent of changes in climate reviewed. The distinction between historical climate change and present-day phenomena of climate change will be explained. This unit also examines the probable causes of climatic change, and its impacts on a variety of receptors. Amongst other aspects, the unit will outline the health and social impacts of climate change, with reference to issues of environmental justice. Current strategies for adaptation and mitigation will also be discussed, together with the economic implications of both climate change phenomena themselves as well as of attempts at mitigation. Recent developments in regional and international negotiations relating to climate change will be reviewed, with specific reference to the role of Malta in such discussions.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to provide students with:
- an understanding of global climatic cycles which have affected Earth through geological time;
- an understanding of the relationship between resource utilisation by humans and the global carbon cycle;
- an appreciation of the scale and potential severity of climate change impacts;
- an understanding of atmospheric feedback cycles;
- an understanding of strategies and processes that may mitigate or accelerate climatic change;
- an appreciation of the urgency and complexity of the climate change issue;
- an understanding of international diplomatic and regulatory frameworks relating to climate change.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

a. Outline known changes in climate throughout Earth history and describe the basis of the Milankovitch cycles of climatic change;
b. Describe global carbon fluxes;
c. Describe the role of feedback cycles in the atmosphere;
d. Describe the probable mechanisms of climate change including the role of greenhouse gases;
e. Explain the importance of the science underpinning the consequences of climate change;
f. Describe strategies that may reduce the rate of climate change;
g. Discuss ongoing political efforts towards mitigation of climate change;
h. Explain the link between climate change and resource usage by humans, including economic dimensions of the issue;
i. Describe, discuss and evaluate existing and proposed legal mechanisms for managing climate change.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

a. Critically appraise the various viewpoints concerning global climate change;
b. Critically evaluate climate data used to predict various scenarios for future climate states;
c. Participate in discussions relating to international negotiations and local regulation of climate change.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:
State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World (State of the World). The Worldwatch Institute. 1st Edition. ISBN: 978-039-333-418-0.
Burroughs, W. J., 2007. Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach.UK: Cambridge University Press. 2nd Edition. ISBN: 0-521-567-71-8.
Barry, R. G. 2003. Atmosphere, Weather and Climate. UK: Routledge. 9th Edition. ISBN: 0-415-27171-1.
Rayner, J., 2000. Dynamic Climatology. 1st Edition. US: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. ISBN: 978-157-718-016-6.
Dessler, A.E., 2006. The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate. UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-052-153-941-8.


ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-Requisite Study-unit: EMP2001

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Practicum & Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 30%
Examination (2 Hours) SEM1 Yes 70%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.