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Unit information: Environmental Risks, Management and Policy in 2015/16

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Unit name Environmental Risks, Management and Policy
Unit code GEOG30015
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Jo House
Open unit status Not open



Available to year-three Geography and year- four Geography with Study Aboard/Continental Europe students only.

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will explore some of the complex issues associated with environmental changes that are either occurring now or predicted to occur in the future. This will include detection of environmental risks and attribution to different drivers. It will explore management of risk through adaptation and mitigation. Many of these issues represent a complex mix between natural science and the social sciences, requiring understanding of the physical causes and consequences as well as the legal, economic and political responses.

The course will consist of an introduction and conclusion lecture, and have four components:

  1. Land-climate interactions including land-based climate mitigation strategies, climate risk to food security and climate change policy at both international and national levels (4 lectures, Dr. J. House)
  2. The Water Framework Directive: Implementation strategy at European and UK scales (4 lectures, Prof.Jim Freer)
  3. Present day and future flood risk: approaches to risk assessment and risk management. (4 lectures, Dr. Jeff Neal)

Risk assessment techniques under deep uncertainty (3 lectures, 2 practicals Prof. J. Bamber)

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

  1. Interpret and apply methods for assessing evidence and uncertainty for various environmental issues.
  2. Discuss the role of national and international policy and management practices in environmental risk mitigation and adaptation.
  3. Write policy briefing documents, assessing and synthesising scientific evidence and communicating its relevance to policy and management practices.
  4. Outline and evaluate flood risk assessment methods under present day and future climates.
  5. Identify and discuss approaches to flood mitigation, adaptation and risk transfer.

The following transferable skills are developed in this Unit:

  • Research design and techniques
  • Analytical skills and problem solving
  • Computer literacy.
  • Critical evaluation of literary sources
  • Synthesis of scientific evidence
  • Communication to a non-expert audience

Teaching Information

Lectures & practical sessions

Assessment Information

Final Exam 67% Report 33%

Reading and References

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, 2007 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, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

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. Schlömer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

IPCC (2012), Summary for Policymakers. In: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation Rep., Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA.

Bell, McGillivray and Pedersen, (2013) Environmental Law, Oxford University Press

Hallegatte, S., C. Green, R. J. Nicholls, and J. Corfee-Morlot (2013), Future flood losses in major coastal cities, Nat Clim Change, 3(9), 802-806.

Hirabayashi, Y., R. Mahendran, S. Koirala, L. Konoshima, D. Yamazaki, S. Watanabe, H. Kim, and S. Kanae (2013), Global flood risk under climate change, Nature Clim. Change, 3(9), 816-821.

Keith, D. W.: When is it appropriate to combine expert judgments?, Clim. Change, 33, 139-143, 1996.