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Climate Change (MSc)

MSc|Postgraduate Taught

Climate Change

Entry year
2023
Entry requirements
2.1
Duration
12 months (Full Time)
24 months (Part Time)
Places available
40 (Full Time)
(Part Time)

Climate change is one of the most pressing and challenging issues facing humanity. Extreme heat, flooding, and rising sea levels are leading to a number of dangerous and irreversible impacts on societies and economies. Avoiding the worst impacts depends on decisions we make today to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to find solutions to remove carbon from the atmosphere. A course in climate change has never been so important, as we attempt to tackle these fundamental issues facing humanity in the 21st century. This highly interdisciplinary course offers a specialised knowledge of climate change from multiple perspectives, addressing many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) around themes including climate science; impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; technological and nature-based mitigation; and the connections between climate change and human culture. Practical skills training is embedded in all modules and will provide vital hands-on experience in applying subject knowledge in the real world. There are also strong links with employers – notably through a careers module and an opportunity to undertake an employer-focused research project. This will ensure students graduate as the global citizens and leaders that society needs to help secure the future of our planet. This will open the doors to a wide variety of careers and pathways for future study – including the public sector (e.g. national meteorological and environmental agencies, and local councils), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charities; the private sector (e.g. environmental consultancies, energy and utilities companies, risk, finance and insurance providers); universities and research institutes; and many more.

Climate Change highlights

Top 200 in the World for Geography (QS World Rankings 2020) and Top 10 for Geography in the Russell Group (National Student Survey 2022)

Career Development

  • Multiple Perspectives Interdisciplinary approaches to one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.
  • Focus on Careers Skills training, a careers module, and an option for an employer-focused research project.

Internationally Renowned Experts

  • Taught by Experts Taught by a range of subject experts engaging in world-class research.

Course Structure

The MSc award will be made at the autumn board of examiners upon successful completion of 180 CATs in semester 1, 2 and 3 (80 CATs core modules, 40 CATs elective modules, and a 60 CATs core research project module).

The opportunity exists for students to complete or redeem failed taught modules in summer – successfully doing so will mean obtaining the MSc award at the autumn board of examiners (provided the research project module is also successfully completed). Students can complete or redeem an incomplete/failed research project module in the subsequent academic year (noting this may have fee implications) – successfully doing so will mean obtaining the MSc award at one of the board of examiners the following academic year. Students may also enter the MSc programme upon successful completion of the PG Dip, enrolling on the remaining 60 CATs (core Research Project module) of the 180 CATs MSc programme.

For part-time mode of study, students must take 80 CATs in the first academic year and 100 CATs in the second academic year, comprising any 80 CATs modules in the first year, followed by any 40 CATs modules and the 60 CATs core research project module in the second academic year.

The opportunity exists for students to complete or redeem failed taught modules in the summer of both academic years – successfully doing so will mean obtaining the MSc award at the autumn board of examiners of the second academic year (provided the research project module is also successfully completed). Students can complete or redeem an incomplete/failed research project module in the subsequent academic year (noting this may have fee implications) – successfully doing so will mean obtaining the MSc award at one of the board of examiners the following year.

Course DetailsCore Modules (CATS points in brackets):

GGY7004 The Science of Climate Change (20)
This module explores the science of climate change, specifically how and why the climate system changes across multiple timescales – ranging from reconstructed palaeoclimates to projected climates of the future. We will examine the natural forcing mechanisms that have driven climate change throughout geological time and assess their relevance to contemporary climate change. We will also explore the role of humans in driving climate change since the industrial revolution, and evaluate the concept of the Anthropocene as a proposed new geological epoch. Laboratory classes and computer modelling will provide practical skills to help in the application of theoretical knowledge and understanding behind the science of climate change. This module will ultimately provide vital scientific context in our efforts to respond to one of the biggest challenges facing humanity.

GGY7005 Living with Climate Change (20)
This module explores how our natural world and the socio-economic systems we have created are responding to climate change. We examine the risks and impacts of climate change for both people and planet, and evaluate how these systems are adapting to climate change in various geographical contexts. With an emphasis on case studies and applying practical skills, we examine many connected concepts including vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity. In a world where we are already committed to a certain temperature rise and accompanying set of impacts, this module is vital in providing a sound knowledge and understanding for how we are living with climate change – an important complement to our efforts in climate mitigation.

GGY7006 Careers in Climate Change (0)
This module is designed to get students thinking about life after graduation and to enhance student employability. The module offers (1) generic employability guidance around CVs, cover letters, job applications and interviews from QUB Careers, Employability and Skills; and (2) taster talks and networking opportunities with representatives from a range of potential employers in the climate change sector. The module is non-credit bearing, but will appear on the student’s degree transcript as Pass or Fail depending on the successful completion of a reflective video.

GGY7007 Culture and Climate Change (20)
This module explores the connections between climate change and culture. We examine how human culture plays an important role in climate change discourse, ranging from how climate change is represented and communicated to how culture shapes our beliefs and responses to climate change. Drawing on knowledge and methods from various areas of the humanities, behavioural and social sciences, we will show that understanding climate change and responding to the climate emergency requires much more than an appreciation of the science alone.

GGY7008 Mitigating Climate Change (20)
This module explores the techniques used to mitigate climate change, both in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing carbon from the atmosphere. We examine three broad areas where mitigation is achieved: (1) reducing consumption; (2) nature-based solutions; and (3) technological solutions. Through a range of teaching methods including case studies, fieldtrips and practical classes, we explore how these techniques work and evaluate their success. This module is vital in providing a sound knowledge and understanding for how we are mitigating climate change – an important complement to our efforts in climate adaptation and a fundamental step in tackling one of humanity’s greatest challenges.

GGY9100 Research Project (60)
This module is an independent research project completing original analysis in some aspect relating to climate change with the guidance of an academic supervisor and culminating in a written dissertation. There are two types of research project available: (1) academic-focused; and (2) employer-focused. In either case, students develop their own project proposals based on advertised research areas/themes set by a member of academic staff for the former and an employer for the latter. For employer-focused projects, academic staff are still heavily involved – first approving the advertised research area/theme created by the employer, then co-supervising the student alongside a member of staff from the employer, and finally marking the assessments. Both types of research project have identical learning outcomes, assessment and timelines – the only difference is the nature of the project involving something more adapted to the research needs of an employer and the additional employer supervision in the employer-focused project.

Elective Modules (CATS points in brackets):

CHE7301 Applied Renewable Energy and Low Carbon Technologies (20)
Fundamentals of renewable energy technologies including wind, solar, marine, geothermal and biomass; Integration and evaluation of renewable energy systems with other current and emerging low-carbon technologies; Application of low-carbon systems to either retrofit existing, or design new buildings, factories and infrastructure; Economics and other factors for supporting decision making in the deployment of low-carbon systems.

CHE7302 Sustainability and Net Zero Carbon Criteria (20)
Modelling mass, energy and carbon balances; Methods and tools for collection and analysis of environmental sustainability and carbon data; Applied life cycle analysis and carbon foot printing; Tools for energy and carbon management.

EVP7032 GIS and Spatial Analysis (20)
The module will be run for twelve weeks from September to December and examines two aspects of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Spatial Planning. The first part investigates the role of GIS in planning practice and research, looking in particular at key concepts in GIS, spatial literacy, data sources and the role of mapping and maps. The second part of the module involves the practical application of GIS and aims to teach students the basics of using GIS software (ArcGIS 9.2).

EVP7040 Urban Futures (20)
Critical debates in planning is seminar-based with students being continuously assessed on the independent research they complete during the semester. The main global challenges within the module will include the following: green infrastructure; the inclusive city; urban technological change; future demographics; low carbon transition; critical heritage perspectives; cities and the e-economy; planning the urban-rural dialectic; urban resource use; the future of urban housing; health in future cities.

CIV7012 Environmental Interaction of Assessment of Marine Renewables (10)
The module is a combination of lectures and practicals including a field trip that takes place at Portaferry. The aim is to introduce students to the environmental concerns of wave and tidal energy developments. Modelling, acoustic, telemetry and quantitative methods used to assess the environmental interactions will be evaluated. Analysis of flow velocity in the environment is fundamental to understanding envionmental interactions, therefore students will be introduced to tools such as numerical modelling and flow measurement devices. Individual reports will consider environmental barriers to consenting and the analysis and measurement of hydrodynamics.

CIV7038 Introduction to Renewable Technologies (10)
The objectives of the module are to provide an introduction to Renewable Energy Technologies, their applications and legislative framework. The subject is presented in weekly lectures supplemented by self-directed group work, allowing for the practical application of the presented theoretical framework. The lecture syllabus will include introductions to a variety of principal renewable energy technologies, such as wind (inland and offshore), solar, tidal and wave power as well as geothermal and biomass energy. A focus is provided on tidal energy with a 1-week course that includes theory and practical work as part of the module syllabus. The module will explore drivers for tidal and ocean currents, overview of extraction of energy from tidal power, assessment of tidal resource, measurement and analysis of flow velocity in a tidal stream environment (day trip to Queen’s University Marine Laboratory in Portaferry), environmental implications of harnessing tidal power and numerical tools to predict tidal energy resource. Additionally, the lecture syllabus will include an introduction to the policy framework for renewable energies within the UK & Ireland. The lecture syllabus and practical will be complemented by a group project in which students will transfer the basic principles introduced during the lectures to a real-life case study example. Offshore wind (both floating and bottom-fixed) is emphasized in the lectures and group project will reflect the new technologies in the offshore wind field. Individual reports will consider the different types of renewable energy sources such as wind, wave, geothermal and solar energy.

CIV7059 Assessment of Environmental Impacts (20)
This module aims to introduce students to how the impacts of engineering projects are assessed within the framework Life Cycle Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment and sustainability evaluations. Particular emphasis is given to environmental impacts, although societal impacts will also be considered. Students will be introduced to the regulatory drivers for Environmental Impact Assessment/Strategic Environmental Assessment and will receive lectures on the stages of Environmental Impact Assessment for major developments. The use of sustainability assessments (CEEQUAL, BREAM etc) will also be explored. Students will be introduced to current standards and guidance for quantifying environmental impacts through Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), including defining the scope of an LCA, inventory analysis and interpretation of results. Case studies will explore how life cycle approaches are employed in industry (resource management, low carbon construction, carbon/energy/water foot printing and the circular economy). Finally students will examine multi criteria analysis for evaluating and balancing diverse criteria during decision making. Solid waste and resource management will then be studied in detail within this context. Students will gain an understanding of the science and technology behind advanced waste management processes and an appreciation of the financial, social and institutional factors that may restrict the adoption of particular technologies.

EVP7043 Planning for Sustainable Communities (20)
The module is designed to provide a theoretical and a practical basis for the process of community plan preparation. It will involve detailed consideration of the spatial implications of service provision and meeting local aspirations reflected in new 'community plans'. The theoretical material will include consideration of the following: existing demographic analysis; physical and ethnographic survey research; policy and institutional analysis; best practice community engagement and consultation practice; the changing roles of city/local centres; and the links between physical, social, economic and cultural renewal in urban environments. The module is based on a combination of seminars and studio work. A real-world project has been commissioned to allow students to consider how planning and urban design practice can successfully engage with local communities to instigate inclusive regeneration. Working in groups, students will prepare thematic plans that consider the physical, social and economic context of study area before devising specific policies and proposals to inform the future development of this area. The allocated group themes will incorporate the main facets of community infrastructure provision including: housing and community initiatives; transport, pathways and connections; education and health; open space, parks and leisure; and retailing and economic development. The project aims to take a strategic view of how an area can develop a sustainable socio-economic and physical environment that can be shared and accessed by everyone. It will offer the opportunity for students to develop both the consultation and analysis skills that are necessary to understand the views of local communities in the planning process.

PAI7036 Political Economy of Energy and Low Carbon Energy Transition (20)
This module will take as its starting the concept of ‘Carbon Literacy’, its definition, measurement and development. Students will study policy making, governance and institutional structures at International, national, regional and local levels through the selection of relevant case studies. They will gain an understanding of the spectrum of carbon literacy and the challenges of identifying knowledge and capacity building needs for stakeholders, policy and decision makers at all levels, from global to local and individual.

Teaching Times

Teaching takes place throughout the week from Monday-Friday between 9am-6pm. Timetabling requests for teaching in longer blocks over fewer days will be made but cannot be guaranteed.

Career Prospects

Introduction
In addition to the subject-specific skills acquired on the programme, considerable care has been taken to ensure students are equipped with employability skills and are supported in their career development. Most notably, the programme includes a bespoke “Careers in Climate Change” module providing employability support and opportunities to network with employers in the climate change arena. Practical skills training is central in all core modules, ensuring students graduate with a range of technical hard skills (e.g. climate modelling, GIS, quantitative and qualitative data analysis) and transferable soft skills (e.g. presentations and report writing) that are highly valued by employers. The Research Project module includes an employer-focused option, involving a project co-designed and co-supervised by a member of staff from an external organisation. This is another way students can boost their career prospects, through working on a project of direct relevance and importance in the workplace, and by networking with staff within that organisation. Finally, students can avail of central University support through the QUB Careers, Employability and Skills department.

Employment after the Course
Where could you be in five years?

• Developing climate and flood risk scenarios in the public sector at national meteorological and environmental agencies such as the Met Office or Northern Ireland Environment Agency
• Formulating climate adaptation strategies and sustainability policies within local governments / councils
• Implementing conservation and climate action within NGOs and charities like Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace
• Leading change within the private sector at environmental consultancies such as Atkins or RPS; energy and utilities companies such as SSE Airtricity or Thames Water; and risk, finance and insurance providers such as AXA or the World Bank
• Working as a Scientific Officer within research institutes such as the Agri-Food Biosciences Institute or the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
• Pursuing further study at PhD level in various areas relating to climate change

Employment Links
Employers interested in people like you:

• National meteorological and environmental agencies such as the Met Office or Northern Ireland Environment Agency
• Local governments / councils – e.g. Belfast City Council
• NGOs and charities like Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace
• Environmental consultancies such as Atkins or RPS
• Energy and utilities companies such as SSE Airtricity or Thames Water
• Risk, finance and insurance providers such as AXA or the World Bank
• Research institutes such as the Agri-Food Biosciences Institute or the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
• Universities for further study (PhD)

Learning and Teaching

Learning opportunities associated with this course are outlined below:

Learning and Teaching

You’ll be part of a relatively small, informal and engaging class. You’ll get to know your classmates and your lecturers well during seminars, practical classes and field trips. Students will be assigned an Advisor of Studies who will offer support with study-related issues and will signpost to wider University services and support. Module coordinators will provide study support for issues relating to specific modules. Supervisors for the Research Project will provide 1-to-1 supervision and guidance relating to the Research Project. Students will have access to a number of school-wide and programme-specific resources on Canvas, including the School PGT Handbook for written information on the teaching, learning and pastoral support infrastructure in the school; and module content to support with learning and assessments within modules. Students will also have access to a number of discipline-specific physical resources within Geography, including the Centre for GIS and Geomatics (by keypad) for project work involving GIS; the Map Library (by appointment) for project work involving print maps; and a number of laboratories for project work involving physical analysis of primary data in the labs. Since the programme is open to applicants from any subject, we will also support those students with a less scientific/practical/technical background by offering online “help surgeries” as part of any core module practical classes (e.g. using ArcGIS Pro, Microsoft Excel, R Studio). Students will also be encouraged to make use of faculty support services on technical aspects of the course, including the EPS Mathematics and Statistics Helpdesk (MASH).

Assessment

Assessments associated with the course are outlined below:

The MSc is coursework only. The core modules are assessed as follows:

GGY7004: Popular Media Article (50%) and Presentation (50%)
GGY7005: Literature Review (50%) and GIS StoryMap (50%)
GGY7006: Reflective Video (Pass/Fail)
GGY7007: Essay (50%) and Video (50%)
GGY7008: Report (50%) and Policy Brief (50%)
GGY9100: Project Proposal (20%) and Report (80%).

The elective modules are also assessed by coursework only using a range of different assessment types.

Prizes and Awards

  • PERG offers an annual postgraduate prize (£100) for the best taught Masters dissertation on any issue relating to environmental issues and their management, environmental policy, politics, planning or governance.
  • Students are eligible to apply for the Planning and Environment Research Group (PERG) Prize through the Royal Geographical Society (RGS).

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Modules

Modules

The information below is intended as an example only, featuring module details for the current year of study (2022/23). Modules are reviewed on an annual basis and may be subject to future changes – revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year.

Entrance requirements


Normally a 2.1 Honours Degree (or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University) in any subject.

Applicants with 2.2 Honours degree (or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University) will be considered if they can demonstrate at least one year of professional work experience in an environmental / sustainability role acceptable to the School.

The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2023. However, we encourage applicants to apply as early as possible. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

Please note: A deposit will be required to secure a place on this course.

International Students

Our country/region pages include information on entry requirements, tuition fees, scholarships, student profiles, upcoming events and contacts for your country/region. Use the dropdown list below for specific information for your country/region.

English Language Requirements

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

  • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

Career Prospects

Introduction
In addition to the subject-specific skills acquired on the programme, considerable care has been taken to ensure students are equipped with employability skills and are supported in their career development. Most notably, the programme includes a bespoke “Careers in Climate Change” module providing employability support and opportunities to network with employers in the climate change arena. Practical skills training is central in all core modules, ensuring students graduate with a range of technical hard skills (e.g. climate modelling, GIS, quantitative and qualitative data analysis) and transferable soft skills (e.g. presentations and report writing) that are highly valued by employers. The Research Project module includes an employer-focused option, involving a project co-designed and co-supervised by a member of staff from an external organisation. This is another way students can boost their career prospects, through working on a project of direct relevance and importance in the workplace, and by networking with staff within that organisation. Finally, students can avail of central University support through the QUB Careers, Employability and Skills department.

Employment after the Course
Where could you be in five years?

• Developing climate and flood risk scenarios in the public sector at national meteorological and environmental agencies such as the Met Office or Northern Ireland Environment Agency
• Formulating climate adaptation strategies and sustainability policies within local governments / councils
• Implementing conservation and climate action within NGOs and charities like Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace
• Leading change within the private sector at environmental consultancies such as Atkins or RPS; energy and utilities companies such as SSE Airtricity or Thames Water; and risk, finance and insurance providers such as AXA or the World Bank
• Working as a Scientific Officer within research institutes such as the Agri-Food Biosciences Institute or the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
• Pursuing further study at PhD level in various areas relating to climate change

Employment Links
Employers interested in people like you:

• National meteorological and environmental agencies such as the Met Office or Northern Ireland Environment Agency
• Local governments / councils – e.g. Belfast City Council
• NGOs and charities like Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace
• Environmental consultancies such as Atkins or RPS
• Energy and utilities companies such as SSE Airtricity or Thames Water
• Risk, finance and insurance providers such as AXA or the World Bank
• Research institutes such as the Agri-Food Biosciences Institute or the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
• Universities for further study (PhD)

Additional Awards Gained

Students may incur additional costs for small items of clothing and/or equipment necessary for lab or field work.

Prizes and Awards

PERG offers an annual postgraduate prize (£100) for the best taught Masters dissertation on any issue relating to environmental issues and their management, environmental policy, politics, planning or governance.

Students are eligible to apply for the Planning and Environment Research Group (PERG) Prize through the Royal Geographical Society (RGS).

Graduate plus award for extra-curricular skills

In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Graduate Plus. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £6,980
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £6,980
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £8,360
EU Other 3 £23,150
International £23,150

1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled status, will be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB will be charged the GB fee.

2 EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI are eligible for NI tuition fees.

3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2023-24, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

Additional course costs

All Students

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.

Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

If a programme includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

How do I fund my study?

The Department for the Economy will provide a tuition fee loan of up to £6,500 per NI / EU student for postgraduate study. Tuition fee loan information.

A postgraduate loans system in the UK offers government-backed student loans of up to £11,836 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas. Criteria, eligibility, repayment and application information are available on the UK government website.

More information on funding options and financial assistance.

International Scholarships

Information on scholarships for international students, is available at www.qub.ac.uk/Study/international-students/international-scholarships/.

How to Apply

Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

Apply now

When to Apply

The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2021. In the event that any programme receives a high volume of applications, the university reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Entry Portal (DAP) against the programme application page.

Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions that apply when you accept an offer of a place at the University on a taught programme of study.
Queen's University Belfast Terms and Conditions.


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