SOAS University of London

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

Climate Change and Development (30 credits)

30 credits

Climate Change and Development is a core module for the MSc Climate Change and Development.

The module pays attention to issues in both ‘developed’ and ‘emerging’ economies as well as in poor developing economies. Those concerned about climate change and development in poorer economies need to understand more about ‘northern’ issues. This is because the mitigation and adaptation policies in the north affect poor people in the south in terms of more ‘direct’ impacts on global emissions (in the case of mitigation policies) but also, and very importantly, in terms of their ‘indirect’ impacts on market and other livelihood/economic opportunities and constraints affecting individuals, communities, and national and regional economies.

Climate Change and Development Module Sample (pdf; 1605kb)  

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

  1. Detail and assess critically the relationships between climate change and development, in particular the major impacts of climate change on development and of development on climate change.
  2. Review critically processes and factors affecting the potential impacts and effectiveness of different policy responses to climate change, particularly with regard to their impacts on development.
  3. Develop independently their understanding of the points above with regard to specific issues in which they have particular interests.
  4. Apply this understanding to policy analysis, design and implementation tasks.
  5. Update and develop their critical understanding of climate change and development as climate science understanding, climate change, policies and related social conditions change, and maintain this understanding through knowledge and critical appreciation of key data and other information sources


We recommend students dedicate 15 - 20 hours of study time per week. This can be broken down to 15 - 20 hours per unit and 30 hours per assignment and 45 hours for exam revision.

Scope and syllabus

The module will comprise 15 units:

  1. Climate change and development: Challenges and brief policy history
  2. Concepts and responses to climate change problems
  3. Climate Science
  4. Climate Change Impacts and Ways Forward for Development
  5. Climate Change Policy Challenges and Ethics
  6. Climate Change economics and policy implications
  7. Mitigation Policies and Development
  8. Adaptation Policies in Development
  9. Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Agriculture
  10. Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Energy
  11. Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Transport
  12. Climate Change Impacts in Industry, Water and Settlements
  13. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption in Industry, Water and Settlements
  14. Climate Change and Disasters
  15. Climate Change, Health and Lifestyle


This module will be available to study twice a year in April and October.

Method of assessment

This module is assessed by:

  • a 500-word commentary and critical discussion on a key reading, and assessment of the commentaries of two other students (10%)
  • a 3000-word examined assignment (EA), with an element of online interaction and discussion, worth 40%
  • a two-hour written examination worth 50%.

Since the EA is an element of the formal examination process, please note the following:

  1. The EA questions and submission date will be available on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
  2. The EA is submitted by uploading it to the VLE.
  3. The EA is marked by the module tutor and students will receive a percentage mark and feedback.
  4. Answers submitted must be entirely the student’s own work and not a product of collaboration.
  5. Plagiarism is a breach of regulations. To ensure compliance with the specific University of London regulations, all students are advised to read the guidelines on referencing the work of other people. For more detailed information, see the FAQ on the VLE.

Suggested reading

There is one textbook for this module: Tanner, T. & Horn-Phathanothai, L. (2014) Climate Change and Development. Oxon, Routledge.

Climate Change and Development is written by two leading thinkers in the field of climate change and development. It provides an excellent overview of development issues in a changing climate. The book covers the climate and development nexus, the
international climate change regime and the need for adaptation, mitigation and climate finance. It also addresses solutions for a future ‘transformed’ world.

Key Study Materials

These are drawn mainly from the textbook, relevant academic journals and internationally respected reports. With the exception of textbooks, all Key Study Materials are provided digitally via the Online Library or weblinks. Readings add breadth and depth to the unit materials and are required reading as they contain material on which students may be examined. The notes under each resource indicate its scope and relevance. For some topics, multimedia has also been provided to summarise issues, provide case studies, or cover topics which are more challenging to understand. Feel free to use the VLE Discussion Forum to discuss any of the materials and their implications with other students and the tutor.

Further Study Materials

These texts and multimedia may not be provided via the Online Library, but weblinks have been included where possible. Further Study Materials are NOT examinable and are provided to enable students to pursue their own areas of interest.

The further readings listed below will be useful for the whole module.

IPCC. (2013) Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1535 pp.

Available from: and An overview of the latest 2013/2014 findings on climate change — the physical science — by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The ‘summary for policymakers’ is a Key Reading for some units. Available from:

IPCC. (2014) Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Geneva, Switzerland. [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea and L.L. White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 1132 pp. Available from:

An overview of the latest 2014 findings on climate change – impacts, adaptation and vulnerability – by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Please read at least the summary for policymakers: Available from:

IPCC. (2014) Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer, O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S.Schlomer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (Eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.Available from:

The synthesis report of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report is the most up-to-date and comprehensive report on climate science, climate impacts, mitigation and adaptation. Please read the summary for policymakers: Available from:


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules