SOAS University of London

Centre for Development, Environment and Policy (CeDEP)

Climate Change and Development

Module Code:
P108 (P524)

About this Module

This module provides a multi-disciplinary understanding of climate change processes and of their direct and indirect interactions with development. It describes the main climate change processes, scenarios and vulnerabilities, and international and national policy responses. Different sectors’ contributions and sensitivities to climate change (and to mitigation and adaptation responses) are identified, with their implications for policies and outcomes for different economies and for people’s livelihoods within them.

This is an introductory postgraduate module. It aims to provide students with a basic multi-disciplinary understanding of core issues and processes, and their interactions with development and with poverty and poverty reduction.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Develop independently their understanding of the points above with regard to specific issues in which they have particular interests.
  • Apply this understanding to policy analysis, design and implementation tasks.
  • 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.

Scope and syllabus

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 how mitigation and adaptation policies in developed economies affect poor people globally in terms not only of their more ‘direct’ impacts (eg on global emissions) but also, and very importantly, in terms of their ‘indirect’ impacts on market and other livelihood / economic opportunities and constrains affecting individuals, communities, national and regional economies. 

An emphasis on development and poverty is also highly relevant to those with more exclusive developed country interests, as global integration means that problems in poorer countries affect richer countries (for example through global climate / ocean processes, through policy demands from emerging economies, through migration pressures). There are also major ethical issues regarding developed economy emissions, national mitigation and adaptation policies, and negotiations in international and regional fora. 

Students will be best equipped to respond to the changing science and environmental and social / political / economic contexts of climate change by an education in integrative core processes. Learning about these core processes is contextualised with relevant applied explanations and illustrations / cases.

The module includes:

  • Climate science to provide an understanding of the main natural processes involved in climate change, of the main factors affecting it, and of the likely nature and extent of future climate change (and of the basis and uncertainties involved in climate change predictions).
  • The main issues affecting climate change policies and policy processes. This builds on scientific understanding (as above) to identify (a) major policy goals, (b) major difficulties inherent in both the political economy processes and technical policy formulation, and (c) ways forward to address those difficulties.
  • Implications of climate change and responses for development policies and outcomes for poor people with different livelihoods in different parts of the world.
  • Climate change interactions with particular sectors with regard to (a) their contribution to climate change, (b) potential mitigation of contributions, (c) their sensitivity to climate change, and (d) potential adaptation to climate change.
Part I Introduction – Core unit

  (1) Climate change and development challenges

Part II Understanding climate change – Core units

  (2) Climate science
  (3) Climate change: evidence and projections

Part III Responding to climate change – Core units

  (4) Policy issues, ethics, and economics
  (5) Mitigation polices and development
  (6) Adaptation policies in development

Part IV Sectors and climate change – Choice of elective units

Students should choose two elective sectoral units from Units 7–10 below. In the examination there will be elective questions that students should select based on their elective units. Students can, however, study all four units for their own interest if they wish.

  (7) Climate change interactions in agriculture
  (8) Energy and transport
  (9) Industry, settlements and water
  (10) Disasters, health and lifestyles

Module sample

This module uses a core text which is specially written and will take you through your self-directed study. Exercises, assignments and other activities, such as self-assessment questions, film clips and animations are included to help you with learning. Most module study guides are now provided in electronic format on a USB flash memory stick, but can also be downloaded from the online learning environment. Click the linked image below to view a sample of our e-study guide:

Click to start a demo of (Climate Change and Development)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules