Causes and consequences of Climate Change

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


 The course aims at giving an introduction to the science of climate change. It provides the basis for understanding the underlying physical processes and feedbacks governing climate variations on different timescales. How different anthropogenic emissions influences climate and what are the main factors driving the changes in emissions. In addition, physical and economical climate change impacts and risks will be presented along with an outline of international frameworks for climate assessment, adaptions and mitigation.  The course will give the student the perspective to discuss the UN's Societal Development Goals in the context of the ongoing changes in climate.


The course focuses on explaining the main external forcing mechanisms such as the sun, volcanoes, and changes in greenhouse gases and aerosols, which can contribute to changing the global energy budget and initiate climate changes. Through this course, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the complexities of the climate system, and be able to compare the observed, man-made changes in climate over the last century to past natural changes.

The course includes an introduction to different types of climate impacts and risks, including examples of physical and economical risks.The course answers to the UNs Societal Development Goals (in particular SDG13) by strengthening our knowledge of climate and climate-related hazards and will make the student conscious of the consequences of political and strategic choices made at a local, national and global level.

In addition to class room lectures, group work and colloquia, the course consists of web and classroom lectures as well as independent reading and exercises provided on an interactive online platform. The course is followed by term projects and presentation of project results.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student can

  • explain the fundamental physical mechanisms behind large scale climate variability
  • understand the basic external forcing mechanisms that initiate climate variations
  • explain and quantify the main feedback mechanisms in the climate system
  • provide an overview of different anthropogenic emissions sources
  • explain the main underlying drivers of changes in anthropogenic emissions
  • understand the concept of risk through event, exposure and vulnerability
  • understand possible physical and economical consequences of climate change for society
  • explain the main international frameworks for climate change assessment, adaption and mitigation
  • put UN's Societal Development Goal 13 in perspective with other SDG goals


The student can

  • use basic climate change terminology and expressions
  • perform calculations of the earth´s sensitivity to external forcings such as the Sun, volcanoes and changes in greenhouse gases
  • assess the physical and economical consequences of climate change and evaluate their impact on society through a risk framework
  • demonstrate their verbal and written scientific communication skills and ability to present scientific information to fellow students and others
  • demonstrate the ability to provide constructive reviews to fellow students
  • reflect on the linkages and interactions between the UN's Societal Development Goals

General competence

The student can

  • demonstrate the ability for critical thinking and physically based reasoning
  • show cross-disciplinary awareness through discussions on the interaction between humans and nature in the Earth system
  • summarize the link between environmental, socio-economic, demographic and social relationships through investigation into the effect of future man-made greenhouse gas emissions

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction


This course has a limited capacity, enrolment is based on application. Application deadline is Wednesday in week 33 for the spring semester. Please see this page for more information.

It is compulsory to attend the first lecture. Please contact the Study Section if you can't come to the first lecture:

Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge

Basic knowledge in mathematics, physics or geoscience is recommended.

It is an advantage to have studied at least two years at University level.

Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap



Access to the Course
Open to all students at the University of Bergen.
Teaching and learning methods

The teaching will include online lectures (Massive Open Online course; MOOC), classroom lectures and group exercises.

- MOOC course: 20 hours

- Lectures: 2 hours a week for 12 weeks

- Colloquia: 2 hours a week for 12 weeks

Make a poster or a video of a chosen topic related to the course, and present it in class, as well as produce a written report of a chosen topic related to the course.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Mandatory peer-review of fellow students. Mandatory  attendance in lectures and colloquia (at least 80% attendance). 

Completion of at least 80 % of the course steps and all the test questions in the MOOC course "Causes of Climate Change"

The compulsory assignments are valid for the teaching semester.

Forms of Assessment

The assessment form is evaluated based on:

  • presented poster or video (30%)
  • written and presented semester report/assignment (70%)

We add up scores from the partial assessments to determine the final grade in the course. All partial assessments must be passed to pass the course.

Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F.
Assessment Semester
Assessment only in semester with teaching
Reading List
Will be made available by 1st of July for the fall semester and 1st of December for the spring semester
Course Evaluation
The course will be evaluated by the students in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department
Examination Support Material
Programme Committee
The Program Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study program and courses.
Course Coordinator
The course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB, or you may contact
Course Administrator
Faculty of Mathematics and natural Sciences - Department of Earth Science