Past Actions, Present Woes: History and Anthropogenic Climate Change (HIC2315)

StaffDr Tim Cooper - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module gives students the opportunity to tackle the question of how history can usefully be deployed in a present-day context. It looks at the history of human engagement with climate change in numerous contexts. It asks students to think constructively and critically about the relationship between scientific knowledge and historical knowledge; how historians should engage with issues and debates that are dominated by scientific expertise; and how an understanding of the social origins of anthropogenic climate change can influence public debate? It also asks students to reflect critically on the learning practices and institutional assumptions of universities and to engage with their relevance as sites of critical engagement with social issues.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate a capacity for critical engagement with the science, social science and history of climate change.
  • 2. demonstrate contextual understanding of a range of historical and social underpinnings of anthropogenic climate change. of anthropogenic climate change.
  • 3. demonstrate some ability to make historically informed judgments regarding the most effective forms of social response to anthropogenic climate change.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. read, and critically interrogate, primary source material both historical and contemporary.
  • 5. engage reflexively in historiographical debates and demonstrate some of their relevance to contemporary issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. reflect critically upon, and engage with, contemporary social issues.
  • 7. critically apply historical knowledge to contemporary situations.
  • 8. work collaboratively and effectively in groups and to share knowledge and ideas.

Syllabus plan

Themes and contents for this unit may include: the history of climate change science; the idea of the anthropocene as historical epoch; capitalism and the organization of nature; the making of oil economies; the economics of climate change; the national and international politics of climate change; technological fixes; the discourse of denial; religion and spirituality; climate change and the environmental movement. N.B. Space will also be provided for critical reflection on the learning process, and contribution by students to the syllabus.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Lectures11These take the form of tutor-led discussion of set readings. You are expected to undertake a set minimum of preparation before the class.
Seminars11Student-led seminar discussion based upon group research projects and student presentations.
Guided independant study60 hoursReading for lectures. It is expected that you will spend three hours preparing for each lecture by reading. Materials to be supplied on ELE.
Guided independant study60 hoursReading for seminars. It is expected that you will spend three hours preparing for each seminar by reading. Materials to be supplied on ELE.
Guided independant study8 hoursGroup work preparation for formative presentation. You should spend two hours preparing material for the formative presentation. The distribution of this effort should be agreed by the groups.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group presentation of the developmental wiki 10 minutes 1-8Verbal plus peer assessment comments

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Exam 1002 hours1-7Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
ExamEssay 2,500 words1-7

Re-assessment notes

give details of how re-assessment will be calculated. This section can also be used to indicate where re-assessment is not available

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

S. Weart, A History of Global Warming (various edns)

M. Hulme, Why We Disagree about Climate Change (CUP 2009)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

A. Malm, Fossil Capital (Verso, 2016) ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages Web based and electronic resources:

Available as distance learning?


Origin date

February 2012

Key words search

History, Climate Change, Environment, Science, Politics