Climate Change and Pollution

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
16 February 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BSC C510 Global Sustainability,
BSC C511 Global Sustainability (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C512 Global Sustainability (including Year Abroad),
BSC C513 Global Sustainability (including Placement Year),
BA C900 Global Studies with Sustainability,
BA C901 Global Studies with Sustainability (Including Foundation Year),
BA C902 Global Studies with Sustainability (including Placement Year),
BA C903 Global Studies with Sustainability (including Year Abroad),
BA V5L5 Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability,
BA V5L6 Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability (Including Foundation Year),
BA V5L7 Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability (Including Placement Year),
BA V5L8 Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module will explore and discuss the sources and ecological consequences of climate change and pollution concentrating on biodiversity, species distributions and extinctions, and the provision of ecosystem services of benefit to humans.

Examples of climate change and pollution will be presented from both terrestrial and aquatic domains, and from polar to tropical biomes, together with a review of the avenues to be followed for remediation of biosphere processes and the conservation of biological diversity. The module will be delivered through lectures and a practical session incorporating data analysis and interpretation.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To foster concern over anthropogenic disturbance of the biosphere, including both climate change and environmental pollution.

  • To offer a broad insight into the impacts of climate change and pollution, by covering marine, freshwater, and terrestrial domains, and polar to tropical biomes.

  • To address both the physical and biological consequences of climate change and pollution.

  • To consider the ecological impacts of climate change and pollution from the species to ecosystem level.

  • To highlight the importance of ecosystem services to human society and explain how they are undermined by climate change and pollution.

  • To discuss the options available to control pollution and moderate human acceleration of climate change.

  • To develop an awareness of policy and regulation for climate change and environmental pollution.

Module learning outcomes

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

  1. Interpret the physical and biological consequences of climate change, concentrating on biodiversity, species distributions, species extinctions, and higher level effects in multispecies systems.

  2. Explain pollution and why pollution control is essential.

  3. Evaluate, through knowledge of selected case studies, how the environment is affected by, and responds to, climate change and pollution.

  4. Discuss the drivers of climatic stressors and the origins of major pollutants, and their impacts on aquatic and terrestrial environments.

  5. Evaluate and appraise the potential options currently available to control pollution.

  6. Understand and illustrate the concept of ecosystem services, and the economic valuation of such services, using both aquatic and terrestrial examples.

  7. Demonstrate key skills in written communication, information retrieval, data analysis and interpretation.

Skills for your Professional Life (Transferable Skills)

  1. Complex Problem Solving.

  2. Numeracy.

  3. Social Responsibility.

  4. Critical Thinking.

  5. Self-Management.

  6. Policy development.

Module information

Earth`s climate has fluctuated throughout history, but the speed of change in recent decades has been unprecedented. Warming, acidification, drought, flooding, and fire are increasingly prevalent features of our modern world.

In addition, humans are responsible for widespread environmental pollution, which is any input of material or energy into air, land, or water that causes harmful environment change.

Lecture topics

  • Introduction; IPCC and policy.

  • Warming (oceans and freshwaters).

  • Hypoxia and aquaculture.

  • Acidification (oceans and freshwaters).

  • Drought, flooding, fire (temperate and tropical).

  • Chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, hormones).

  • Oil spills.

  • Plastics (microplastics and nanoparticles).

  • Sewage.

  • Air pollution and radioactivity.

  • Revision / Discussion session.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour lecture per week.
  • One 1-hour drop-in session.
  • One 3-hour practical including data analysis and interpretation.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 180 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
0% 100%


Coursework Exam
0% 100%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Eoin O'Gorman, email:
Prof Corinne Whitby, Dr Natalie Hicks
School Undergraduate Office, email: bsugoffice (Non essex users should add to create the full email address)



External examiner

Prof Edgar Turner
University of Cambridge
Professor of Insect Ecology
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

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