Sustainable development, climate and climate action

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

  • understand the basic mechanisms behind the greenhouse effect
  • understand the external climate drivers and the cause of natural and man-made climate variability
  • explain and elaborate on the basic physical feedback mechanisms in the climate system
  • explain different man-made sources of emissions and reasons for changes in these
  • explain what climate risk is, and how it can be calculated and taken into account
  • understand possible physical and economic causes and consequences of climate change
  • understand how one can map greenhouse gas emissions and use greenhouse gas accounts
  • explain the UN's sustainability goal no. 13 and put it in context with the other sustainability goals


The student can

  • use basic terminology and expressions for climate and climate change
  • reflect on climate sensitivity and estimate the significance of external climate impacts from the sun, volcanoes and changes in greenhouse gases by using simple climate models
  • argue the consequences of climate change
  • demonstrate the ability to think critically together with an understanding of the physical climate system
  • reflect on the connections between the UN's sustainability goals
  • summarize the connection between climate, environment, economy, and demography
  • discuss how human actions affect the climate and nature

General competence

The student can

  • strengthen their skills in oral presentation, scientific writing, and discussion
  • present scientific knowledge to fellow students and others
  • contribute with constructive feedback to fellow students (peer-review)
  • use problem-solving methodology on a sustainability problem

ECTS Credits


Semester of Instruction

Autumn and spring semester (from September to March)

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
SDG213: 10 ECTS ¿MNF344: 5 ECTS
Access to the Course
The program is designed for teachers in junior high and high school who want greater knowledge about climate and sustainability. The program is open to everyone across teaching subjects, but we recommend that you have basic knowledge in mathematics, physics or natural sciences. If the course is full, teachers who teach in upper secondary school will be given priority, with an equal distribution between science teachers and social studies teachers. Thereafter, places are offered to science teachers at the lower secondary level.
Teaching and learning methods
The course is online and the teaching takes place via UiB's learning platform Mitt UiB, which you get access to when you are admitted as a student. Here you will find video lessons, exercises, discussion forums, articles and other learning resources.
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
It is compulsory to participate in exercises and to deliver a final project assignment which is assessed as pass/fail.
Forms of Assessment
Portfolio assessment: Group project
Grading Scale
Pass / Fail
Assessment Semester
spring semester.
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
not applicable
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