Climate change is one of the most pressing and challenging issues facing humanity. Extreme heat, flooding, and rising sea levels are leading to a number of dangerous and irreversible impacts on societies and economies. Avoiding the worst impacts depends on decisions we make today to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to find solutions to remove carbon from the atmosphere. A course in climate change has never been so important, as we attempt to tackle these fundamental issues facing humanity in the 21st century. This highly interdisciplinary course offers a specialised knowledge of climate change from multiple perspectives, addressing many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) around themes including climate science; impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; technological and nature-based mitigation; and the connections between climate change and human culture. Practical skills training is embedded in all modules and will provide vital hands-on experience in applying subject knowledge in the real world. There are also strong links with employers – notably through a careers module and an opportunity to undertake an employer-focused research project. This will ensure students graduate as the global citizens and leaders that society needs to help secure the future of our planet. This will open the doors to a wide variety of careers and pathways for future study – including the public sector (e.g. national meteorological and environmental agencies, and local councils), non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charities; the private sector (e.g. environmental consultancies, energy and utilities companies, risk, finance and insurance providers); universities and research institutes; and many more.
The PG Dip exit award will be made at the June board of examiners upon successful completion of 120 CATs in semester 1 and 2 (80 CATs core modules and 40 CATs elective modules).
The opportunity also exists for students to complete or redeem incomplete/failed modules in summer – successfully doing so will mean obtaining the PG Dip award at the August board of examiners. Students may also enter the PG Dip programme upon successful completion of the PG Cert, enrolling on the remaining 60 CATs of the 120 CATs PG Dip programme.
For part-time mode of study, students must take 60 CATs each across two academic years, comprising 40 CATs core modules and 20 CATs elective modules in each academic year. The opportunity also exists for students to complete or redeem incomplete/failed modules in the summer of both academic years – successfully doing so will mean obtaining the PG Dip award at the August board of examiners of the second academic year.
Climate Change Highlights
Top 200 in the World for Geography (QS World Rankings 2020) and Top 10 for Geography in the Russell Group (National Student Survey 2022)
• Multiple Perspectives Interdisciplinary approaches to one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.
• Focus on Careers Skills training, a careers module, and an option for an employer-focused research project.
Internationally Renowned Experts
• Taught by Experts Taught by a range of subject experts engaging in world-class research.
Learning and Teaching
Learning opportunities associated with this course are outlined below:
Learning and Teaching
You'll be part of a relatively small, informal and engaging class. You'll get to know your classmates and your lecturers well during seminars, practical classes and field trips. Students will be assigned an Advisor of Studies who will offer support with study-related issues and will signpost to wider University services and support. Module coordinators will provide study support for issues relating to specific modules. Supervisors for the Research Project will provide 1-to-1 supervision and guidance relating to the Research Project. Students will have access to a number of school-wide and programme-specific resources on Canvas, including the School PGT Handbook for written information on the teaching, learning and pastoral support infrastructure in the school; and module content to support with learning and assessments within modules. Students will also have access to a number of discipline-specific physical resources within Geography, including the Centre for GIS and Geomatics (by keypad) for project work involving GIS; the Map Library (by appointment) for project work involving print maps; and a number of laboratories for project work involving physical analysis of primary data in the labs. Since the programme is open to applicants from any subject, we will also support those students with a less scientific/practical/technical background by offering online "help surgeries" as part of any core module practical classes (e.g. using ArcGIS Pro, Microsoft Excel, R Studio). Students will also be encouraged to make use of faculty support services on technical aspects of the course, including the EPS Mathematics and Statistics Helpdesk (MASH).
Core Modules (CATS points in brackets):
GGY7004 The Science of Climate Change (20)
This module explores the science of climate change, specifically how and why the climate system changes across multiple timescales – ranging from reconstructed palaeoclimates to projected climates of the future. We will examine the natural forcing mechanisms that have driven climate change throughout geological time and assess their relevance to contemporary climate change. We will also explore the role of humans in driving climate change since the industrial revolution, and evaluate the concept of the Anthropocene as a proposed new geological epoch. Laboratory classes and computer modelling will provide practical skills to help in the application of theoretical knowledge and understanding behind the science of climate change. This module will ultimately provide vital scientific context in our efforts to respond to one of the biggest challenges facing humanity.
GGY7005 Living with Climate Change (20)
This module explores how our natural world and the socio-economic systems we have created are responding to climate change. We examine the risks and impacts of climate change for both people and planet, and evaluate how these systems are adapting to climate change in various geographical contexts. With an emphasis on case studies and applying practical skills, we examine many connected concepts including vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity. In a world where we are already committed to a certain temperature rise and accompanying set of impacts, this module is vital in providing a sound knowledge and understanding for how we are living with climate change – an important complement to our efforts in climate mitigation.
GGY7006 Careers in Climate Change (0)
This module is designed to get students thinking about life after graduation and to enhance student employability. The module offers (1) generic employability guidance around CVs, cover letters, job applications and interviews from QUB Careers, Employability and Skills; and (2) taster talks and networking opportunities with representatives from a range of potential employers in the climate change sector. The module is non-credit bearing, but will appear on the student's degree transcript as Pass or Fail depending on the successful completion of a reflective video.
GGY7007 Culture and Climate Change (20)
This module explores the connections between climate change and culture. We examine how human culture plays an important role in climate change discourse, ranging from how climate change is represented and communicated to how culture shapes our beliefs and responses to climate change. Drawing on knowledge and methods from various areas of the humanities, behavioural and social sciences, we will show that understanding climate change and responding to the climate emergency requires much more than an appreciation of the science alone.
GGY7008 Mitigating Climate Change (20)
This module explores the techniques used to mitigate climate change, both in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing carbon from the atmosphere. We examine three broad areas where mitigation is achieved: (1) reducing consumption; (2) nature-based solutions; and (3) technological solutions. Through a range of teaching methods including case studies, fieldtrips and practical classes, we explore how these techniques work and evaluate their success. This module is vital in providing a sound knowledge and understanding for how we are mitigating climate change – an important complement to our efforts in climate adaptation and a fundamental step in tackling one of humanity's greatest challenges.
Elective Modules (CATS points in brackets):
CHE7301 Applied Renewable Energy and Low Carbon Technologies (20)
CHE7302 Sustainability and Net Zero Carbon Criteria (20)
EVP7032 GIS and Spatial Analysis (20)
EVP7040 Urban Futures (20)
CIV7012 Environmental Interaction of Assessment of Marine Renewables (10)
CIV7038 Introduction to Renewable Technologies (10)
CIV7059 Assessment of Environmental Impacts (20)
EVP7043 Planning for Sustainable Communities (20)
PAI7036 Political Economy of Energy and Low Carbon Energy Transition (20)
Normally a 2.1 Honours Degree (or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University) in any subject.
Applicants with 2.2 Honours degree (or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University) will be considered if they can demonstrate at least one year of professional work experience in an environmental / sustainability role acceptable to the School.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
• Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
• Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.
The deadline for applications is normally 30th June 2023. However, we encourage applicants to apply as early as possible. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal earlier than 30th June deadline. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.
Please note: A deposit will be required to secure a place on this course.
How to Apply
Applications should be submitted online via the Postgraduate Applications Portal for admission to the vast majority of postgraduate programmes.
New applicants will need to register via the Portal to create an application account. If you are already a Queen's student with an active Qsis account, you can log in using your student number and Qsis password. Guidance on how to complete an application is provided within the Portal and it is possible to save application data and return to complete it at a later date, if you wish. After core details about yourself and your academic background have been provided, you can submit an application, or multiple applications, if required.
If you applied in a previous cycle through the Portal and are re-applying, you should use your previous log in details. Please review and update your personal and contact details, academic and professional qualifications before submitting a new application.
Important – please ensure that the email address you provide is correct and active, as this will be used by us to communicate the progress of your application to you.
18 months (Part Time)
9 months (Full Time)
Teaching takes place throughout the week from Monday-Friday between 9am-6pm. Timetabling requests for teaching in longer blocks over fewer days will be made but cannot be guaranteed.
Post Course Info
In addition to the subject-specific skills acquired on the programme, considerable care has been taken to ensure students are equipped with employability skills and are supported in their career development. Most notably, the programme includes a bespoke "Careers in Climate Change" module providing employability support and opportunities to network with employers in the climate change arena. Practical skills training is central in all core modules, ensuring students graduate with a range of technical hard skills (e.g. climate modelling, GIS, quantitative and qualitative data analysis) and transferable soft skills (e.g. presentations and report writing) that are highly valued by employers. The Research Project module includes an employer-focused option, involving a project co-designed and co-supervised by a member of staff from an external organisation. This is another way students can boost their career prospects, through working on a project of direct relevance and importance in the workplace, and by networking with staff within that organisation. Finally, students can avail of central University support through the QUB Careers, Employability and Skills department.
Employment after the Course
Where could you be in five years?
• Developing climate and flood risk scenarios in the public sector at national meteorological and environmental agencies such as the Met Office or Northern Ireland Environment Agency
• Formulating climate adaptation strategies and sustainability policies within local governments / councils
• Implementing conservation and climate action within NGOs and charities like Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace
• Leading change within the private sector at environmental consultancies such as Atkins or RPS; energy and utilities companies such as SSE Airtricity or Thames Water; and risk, finance and insurance providers such as AXA or the World Bank
• Working as a Scientific Officer within research institutes such as the Agri-Food Biosciences Institute or the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
• Pursuing further study at PhD level in various areas relating to climate change
Employers interested in people like you:
• National meteorological and environmental agencies such as the Met Office or Northern Ireland Environment Agency
• Local governments / councils – e.g. Belfast City Council
• NGOs and charities like Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace
• Environmental consultancies such as Atkins or RPS
• Energy and utilities companies such as SSE Airtricity or Thames Water
• Risk, finance and insurance providers such as AXA or the World Bank
• Research institutes such as the Agri-Food Biosciences Institute or the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
• Universities for further study (PhD)
Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award for extra-curricular skills
In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.