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1 years


Full Time


Degree of Master of Science

School of Study

Environmental Sciences

Course Organiser

Prof Philip Jones

The MSc in Climate Change is based in the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the School of Environmental Sciences (ENV). The course is designed to provide you with in-depth interdisciplinary knowledge of climate change science, society and policy. The course content equips our graduates for careers in areas as diverse as government agencies, business consultancies and academia.

Climate change and variability has played a major role in shaping human history and the prospect of global warming as a result of human activities presents society with increasing challenges over the coming decades.

This course provides an authoritative assessment of the subject, including recent climate history, present-day variations and climate prediction, the ways in which ideas of climate change impact on the environment, society and human welfare, and the role of climate science in policy development. Its temporal focus spans the Holocene period through to the year 2100, with particular emphasis on contemporary issues. You are encouraged to interact with the course content through a series of student-led debates.

The course covers the fundamentals of the changing climate, including the Earth’s energy balance, the general circulation of the atmosphere, causes of climate change and variability and the greenhouse effect. You will also learn about research methods, consisting of empirical approaches to climate reconstruction (e.g. tree ring analysis), data preparation and analysis, detection of anthropogenic changes and theoretical or model-based approaches to climate prediction. You will study the evidence and causes of recent climate change with a focus on the period from 1 AD to the present, including the atmospheric build-up of greenhouse gases and its consequences for the behaviour of the Earth system.

The ways in which climate change is understood by societies and how it influences the development of policy and stimulates social action is a key component of the course. This covers the social history of climate change, climate risk perception, climate economics, mitigation and adaptation. This includes an assessment of the Framework Convention of Climate Change, prospects for emissions control at the national and international level, climate geo-politics and equity and reconciling development issues with climate change.

Recent Dissertation Titles

  • Mainstreaming climate change adaptation policies within the National Development Plan in Egypt
  • UK tree phenology and its relationship to climate, past and present
  • Local community responses to climate change in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • The cement industry and climate change - motivations, drivers and barriers for change

“Studying the MSc in Climate Change at UEA was a great opportunity, both professionally and personally. Thanks to the experience, I found a job that really fulfils my expectations - and I also met some great people that have become some of my best friends.”

Javier Sabogal Mogollón Former Student.

"Spending a year studying with the experts in climate change at UEA and doing research for my dissertation has helped me perform better in my job. In addition, the relationships that I built during the course will be useful throughout my career working on climate change related issues in Egypt."

Saber Osman Former Student.

  • Our research has been ranked first for impact in the Time Higher Education REF league tables.
  • 88% of research activity classified as world-leading or internationally excellent in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.
  • Teaching of the highest quality; rated “ Excellent” in the most recent Teaching Quality Assessment.
  • With 62 faculty members, the School is the largest interdisciplinary Environmental Science department in the UK.
  • Extensive recent investment in buildings and laboratories provide excellent facilities for research.
  • A large community of researchers, including more than 150 research students, 72 research staff and 27 technicians.
  • “The School of Environmental Sciences is the strongest in the world” Prof Sir David King, UK Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, 2005.

Come and Visit Us

Our Open Days will give you the opportunity to experience the University of East Anglia's unique campus atmosphere.


Dr Tim Osborn is the Deputy Course Director.

Compulsory Study (120 credits)

Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits


Climate change and variability has played a major role in shaping human history and the prospect of a warming world as a result of human activities (principally via changing atmospheric composition) presents society with an increasing challenge over the coming decades. This module covers the science of climate change and our current understanding of anthropogenic effects on climate. It provides details about the approaches, methods and techniques for understanding the history of climate change and for developing climate projections for the next 100 years, supporting further study of the scientific or policy aspects of the subject in either an academic or applied context. Co-taught with ENV-3A51. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKE ENV-3A48, ENV-3A49, ENV-3A51 OR EQUIVALENT




The dissertation is an individual research project under the guidance of an academic supervisor within one of the research groups in the School. In addition, for project placement opportunities with outside organisations there may also be guidance from an outside collaborator. Research undertaken normally involves the analysis and interpretation of data collected in the field, from measurements of a sample in the laboratory or from data gathered from other sources including the media, questionnaire surveys, interviews, etc. This module is reserved for MSc students and all students must have taken ENV-MB3Y.




Socioeconomic scenarios of the 21st century are widely used to explore the prospects, potentials and implications of mitigating and adapting to climate change. Transformative change in the energy system is a hallmark of such scenarios. This module will explore and evaluate the projections of social change and technological change represented in climate change mitigation scenarios, with an emphasis on energy systems. Evidence from history on the drivers and dynamics of energy transitions will be used to feasibility-test these future assumptions. The module will go on to cover the climate change impacts associated with future socioeconomic scenarios, looking particularly at impacts on hydrology and agricultural systems. These interact with both mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change and make necessary an integrated assessment of the complex relationships between energy, land and water. This links climate change impacts and responses back to mitigation in the energy system




Semester 1 teaching is compulsory for all MSc students, while semester 2 is for students to attend the classes they need. The primary purpose of this module is to provide support and training for the dissertation to ensure that the necessary research is well planned in advance. To get the best possible start for the dissertation, advice is given on how to make the best use of UEA library resources, and how to undertake a literature review and the ethics procedures. There is also a discussion about the assessment for this module, which is the dissertation proposal. A substantial part of semester 1 is devoted to how to use statistics for the analysis of different types of projects. For students who are undertaking social science dissertations, supporting lectures and practicals are provided in semester 2. These include: social science research design to ensure there is a sound understanding of the fundamental concept and requirements of good research; questionnaire survey design; interviewing techniques; focus groups methods; and techniques analysing qualitative data. This module must be taken before the ENV-MB4X Dissertation.



Option A Study (60 credits)

Students will select 60 credits from the following modules:

Name Code Credits


Emissions of gases and other pollutants from human activities are critical drivers of phenomena such as climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, degradation of air quality in urban and rural areas, long-range transport of air pollution, and changes in aerosol and cloud physical properties. To understand these impacts it is necessary to make atmospheric measurements of chemical composition and physical parameters, and to interpret these observations with a range of statistical, conceptual, and computer-based models. In this module you will be introduced to a range of modern atmospheric measurements techniques, both those used in the field and in the laboratory. Consideration will be given to the relevant chemical and physical processes that are required to understand these observations. You will also learn about a range of interpretive techniques including numerical models, and you will put some of these in to practice. Co-taught with ENV-3A80. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-3A80 OR EQUIVALENT




This module will adopt an integrated approach to studying surface water and groundwater resources in river basins. Approaches to catchment management will be considered in the context of improving water-dependent terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Topics of climate change impacts on water resources in terms of droughts and floods, as well as water quality issues arising from changing land-use patterns will be considered, together with the engineering and socio-economic methods necessary to adapt to future pressures on water resources. Co-taught with ENV-3A60. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-3A60 OR EQUIVALENT




This module introduces students to the phenomenon of climate change, interconnections between climate change and development and theory and practice for adapting to climate change, in the context of developing countries. The first part of the module covers key aspects of climate change science necessary for a basic understanding of the causes of climate change, future projections of climate change and key impacts as well as methods for assessing these. The second part of the module focuses on adaptation to climate change by introducing the concepts of adaptation, vulnerability and resilience. National and sectoral policy making for adapting to climate change is then explored with reference to case studies. Finally the interconnections between disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation are explored. Seminars explore climate science and adaptation topics.




This module critically examines international/national climate change governance and policy and societal impacts from and responses to climate change and climate change policy. The first half of the semester (Section A) will discuss the history and politics of the international climate change negotiations and then critically examine the way the climate regime (UNFCCC) operates. The following three lectures will look in detail at two items under negotiation with significant implications for developing countries. Finally we will discuss global carbon markets. The second half of the semester (Section B) will turn to the interface of climate change and society. It will start by discussing urban responses to climate change before critically examining geoengineering and other ethical/justice related debates before examining the role of energy demand and lifestyle in tackling climate change and ending with a session on conflict and human security implications from climate change. The seminars will be interactive and enable students to better understand the international negotiating process and ways to engage positively with climate change.




This module introduces Earth system science, taking a top-down approach to the Earth as a whole system, and tracing its development since its formation 4.5 billion years ago. The main focus is on the coupled evolution of life and its environment through a series of revolutions. Theoretical approaches are introduced, including Gaia, feedback mechanisms and systems theory, and practical sessions use models to build up conceptual understanding. The subject is inherently inter-disciplinary, including aspects of biology, chemistry and physics, and unifying the study of climate and global biogeochemical cycles. Co-taught with ENV-3A38. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-3A38 OR EQUIVALENT




Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have significant environmental and societal impacts. This module focuses on the physical basis and analysis of each hazard, their global range of occurrence and their global impact. The module also addresses approaches towards hazard mitigation and minimising vulnerability, with an emphasis on their practical implication. Scenarios and probabilities of mega-disasters are also investigated. This module is co-taught with ENV-3A04. MSci STUDENTS NOTE,TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-3A04 OR EQUIVALENT




Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have significant environmental and societal impacts. This module focuses on the physical basis and analysis of each hazard, their global range of occurrence and their global impact. The module also addresses approaches towards hazard mitigation and minimising vulnerability, with an emphasis on their practical implication. Scenarios and probabilities of occurrence of mega-disasters are also investigated. A one week field trip in Scotland takes place to introduce you to various aspects of natural hazards and in particular to faulting and earthquake hazards. This module is co-taught with ENV-3A04K. The total Field Course module's cap of 25 is inclusive of ENV-3A04K. Please note that there will be a charge for attending this field course. The overall field course charge is heavily subsidised by the School, but students enrolling must understand that they will commit to paying a sum to cover attendance. Further information is available from the module organiser. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-3A04K OR EQUIVALENT




Statistical modelling is a methodology for interpreting experimental data and field observations and for making predictions. The aim of this module is to introduce students to statistical modelling and to some basic techniques for writing population models. After completion of this module, students will understand how to use R to conduct linear model hypothesis testing and community analyses, become familiar with some techniques used to develop ecological population models, be better able to read and understand ecological and statistical models that are found in the literature, and develop written communication skills. This module is primarily reserved for those students studying on the European MSc in Applied Ecology. Limited students from the MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation can also enrol into this module.




The aim of this module is to examine biological responses to climate change over a range of levels from species to ecosystems. In this module students will examine the most recent literature on the effects of global environmental change on biological systems and will become familiar with different approaches and methods used for modelling biological responses to climate change. Students are recommended to take ENV-MA51.




BEFORE TAKING THIS MODULE YOU MUST HAVE TAKEN ENV-MA65 Environmental Assessment is considered to be more effective when conducted at strategic levels of decision making, and is usually perceived to have a goal of achieving sustainable development. This module provides experience of conducting a particular form of strategic assessment, Sustainability Appraisal (SA), which incorporates environmental, social and economic considerations into plan making. Through practice of SA, a field course involving hands-on application of environmental assessment techniques, and consideration of effectiveness theory, this module will examine what makes assessment effective. Please note that there will be a charge for attending this field course. The overall field course charge is heavily subsidised by the School, but students enrolling must understand that they will commit to paying a sum (in the region of GBP300) to cover attendance. Further information is available from the module organiser




CO-TAUGHT WITH ENV-3A35. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-3A33/3A35. This module explains the formation and accumulation of fossil fuel (oil, natural gas and coal). Geological, economic and political aspects of fossil fuel exploration and production are introduced and used to discuss environmental concerns arising from the use of fossil fuels, and the potentially profound implications of future fuel scarcity.




Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are computer programs for the capture, management, analysis and display of spatially referenced data. They are now increasingly widely used in ecology and environmental management, both in the organisation and analysis of pre-existing data sets and for analysis of data collected during fieldwork. This module aims to introduce their basic principles, capabilities, applications and limitations. Only basic familiarity with a PC is required and there will be weekly practical classes using the ArcGIS software. The main emphasis will be on imparting an understanding of what a GIS is, the strengths and weaknesses of such systems, and their practical use in research contexts (including MSc dissertations).




The aim of this course is to show how physical environmental problems may be solved from the initial problem, to mathematical formulation and numerical solution. There is a focus on examples within meteorology, oceanography and the solid earth. The course consists of lectures on numerical methods and computing practicals. These concentrate on the solution of ordinary and partial differential equations. The computing practicals will be run in Matlab. The module will guide students through the solution of a geophysical problem of their own choosing. The problem will be discussed and placed into context through an essay, and then solved and written up in a project report. Co-taught with ENV-3A11. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-3A11 OR EQUIVALENT




The aim of this Module is to introduce students to a range of different narratives of environmental change which have been influential in Western thought and action over the last 200 years and especially the last 50 years. It also aims to show how different narratives of past changes can be used to shape different environmental policy futures. The Module draws upon the sub-disciplines of environmental history, cultural geography, futures studies and systems theory and is taught by three experts in these fields. The Module is divided into two parts. In Part 1, through lectures and seminars students are introduced to seven different narratives of environmental change: for example, limits to growth, planetary boundaries, social-ecological resilience. In Part 2, students working in pairs lead a series of assessed seminars on allocated topics which bring together the historical narratives with areas of live policy debate.




Have you ever wondered why human economic activity seems to be so bad for the environment? Does it have to be like that? Is it possible for human beings to enjoy high standards of living and a high quality environment? Through the study of the principles of Environmental Economics this course sets out to answer those questions. Addressing a wide-range of economy-environment problems including car pollution, over-fishing, climate change and declining oil stocks, the course shows that most environmental problems can be solved through the adoption of policies crafted with the careful application of economic reasoning. Co-taught with ENV-3A84. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-3A44 OR EQUIVALENT




The module allows engagement in Earth science research topics at an advanced level and involves advanced study skills. The module will be strongly research lead and based around student-centred learning. The module will involve a) engagement with appropriate research seminars in the School of Environmental Sciences and b) directed research based around key topics with discussions and student seminars. The topics included will vary from year to year, depending on current research programmes, but they are likely to include topics in sedimentary geology, sedimentology, palaeoclimate, geological resources, Earth history, the Earth system, nuclear waste repository sites, carbon dioxide sequestration.




Advances in science and technology have transformed the world we live in and have increasing potential to disrupt environment and society for good and bad. This situation is particularly problematic in addressing pressing sustainability challenges. Science remains one of the main means of understanding environmental problems and technology can offer important possible solutions to them. Yet, science and technology are also causes of these problems in the first place, with some unintended consequences and effects only just being realised. This, coupled with unacknowledged social and ethical implications, fuels problems of public trust, controversy and resistance to certain forms of science and technology. It is increasingly realised that these problematic relations between science, society and politics form one of the main barriers to action on environmental and sustainability issues from global to local scales. This module provides an essential grounding in understanding these relationships and ways to improve them, explored through grand challenges such as energy, climate change, and natural hazards. The module provides students with an advanced introduction to the field of science and technology studies and its links with geography and environmental science. It is taught through lectures, seminars, practical exercises and in class discussions and debates in three sections: Part 1: Science, politics and power; Part 2. Science, society and the public; and Part 3: Governing science and sustainability.




From supernovae and the early condensation of the solar system, through the climate history of the planet and on to modern stratospheric chemistry, studies using stable isotopes have made a significant contribution to our understanding of the processes that shape the Earth. In this module we look at the theory and practice of isotope geochemistry, covering analytical methods and mass spectrometry, fractionation processes, and isotope behaviour in chemical cycles in the geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere. The course consists of lectures, practicals, including hands-on experience in the stable isotope laboratory, and student led seminars.




This module investigates the impacts of consumption on social and environmental systems, and how these might be reduced. It presents the key theories and debates around sustainable consumption, and critically examines a range of strategies for achieving it, covering governmental, business, community and individual actors. A mainstream 'green growth' policy approach to sustainable consumption is contrasted with an alternative 'new economics' or 'steady state economy' model, and we examine a range of perspectives on what drives consumption patterns. Using innovative teaching methods and workshop exercises we apply these theories to real world examples, providing engaging, experiential learning opportunities. We then critically assess a selection of sustainable consumption initiatives in detail, for example local organic food, eco-housing, Transition Towns, local currencies and community-based behaviour-change campaigns. Students will be required to engage with and critically evaluate various theories of consumption behaviour and social change, so some background in social science is strongly recommended (although not compulsory).




Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the greenhouse gas that has, by far, the greatest impact on climate change. CO2 is becoming even more important to climate owing to continued, escalating use of fossil fuel energy and CO2's very long lifetime in the atmosphere. Predicting future climate or defining 'dangerous' climate change is challenging, in large part because the Earth's carbon cycle is very complex and not fully understood. You will learn about the atmospheric, oceanic and land components of the carbon cycle, how they interact with each other, and how they interact with climate in so-called 'feedbacks'. We also cover pressing global issues such as ocean acidification, ocean deoxygenation, geo-engineering the climate and how to get off our fossil fuel 'addiction'. The understanding of the carbon cycle gained from this module is an important foundation for all climate change research. Emphasis is given to the most recent, cutting-edge research in the field. Co-taught with ENV-3A31. MSci STUDENTS NOTE, TO TAKE THIS MODULE YOU CANNOT HAVE PREVIOUSLY TAKEN ENV-3A31 OR EQUIVALENT




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject: This programme is open to students with a good first degree in environmental science or a related discipline.
  • Degree Classification: Good first degree (minimum 2.1 or equivalent)

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 62 (minimum 55 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact


Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees for 2015/16:

  • Home/EU: £7,000 
  • Overseas: £14,200


50% Final Year Undergraduate Continuation Scholarship

Current final year UEA undergraduate students who gain a First class degree and progress onto a postgraduate course in September 2015 will receive a 50% fee reduction scholarship. Who do not gain a First class degree will be eligible for the 10% UEA Alumni Scholarship outlined below. Terms and conditions apply.

UEA Alumni 10% Scholarship

A scholarship of 10% fee reduction is available to UEA Alumni looking to return for postgraduate study at UEA in September 2015. Terms and conditions apply.


Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme

  • Eligibility: International applicants from developing Commonwealth countries
  • Application deadline: 16 March 2015
  • How to apply: All eligible candidates to whom the School have made an offer are automatically considered for nomination. The successful candidate and a reserve will be notified by 31 March 2015. If you have not been contacted by this date then unfortunately you have been unsuccessful. The appropriate application forms will be sent to the successful student.
  • Please note that all applicants are expected to have met the School's English language requirements and been offered and accepted a place on the course by 16 March 2015. Successful applicants will be contacted by the admissions department. Please refer to for further details. 


Simon Wharmby Scholarship

  • Value: £3,000
  • Eligibility: Home, EU and Overseas applicants who have applied for an MSc course in the School of Environmental Sciences and been offered a place to begin in September 2015
  • How to apply: Applicants should read the scholarship’s terms and conditions carefully before submitting a statement of no more than 500 words highlighting how they meet the selection criteria and the strengths they will bring to the course. Please send your statement via email to quoting your full name, course offered and application number.
  • Closing date: 22 July 2015


Faculty of Science International Scholarship Fund (ISF) Awards

  • Number of awards: Four £2000 awards and one £1500 award
  • Eligibility: Self-funded non-EU applicants who have applied for an MSc course in the School of Environmental Sciences and been offered a place to begin in September 2015
  • How to apply: Applicants should submit an essay highlighting how they meet the selection criteria (below) and answering the following two questions:
    • In approximately 250 words, please tell us your reasons for applying to the University of East Anglia.
    • In approximately 250 words, please explain how a postgraduate degree from the University of East Anglia would enable you to make a difference in the future.

Please send your statement via email to quoting your full name, course offered and application number.

  • Closing date: 15 May 2015
  • Selection criteria: 
    • Academic standing (level of qualification, content covered, grade 2:i or above obtained).

    • Relevance of previous study to UEA course applied to.

    • Previous experience relevant to the course applied to (evident from e.g. paid/unpaid work or hobbies or roles of responsibility held in clubs, societies, NGOs or professional organisations). 


Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

You can apply online, or by downloading the application form.

Further Information

To request further information & to be kept up to date with news & events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.