School of Society and Culture

MSc Climate Science, Policy and Society

Programme code 7546

1 year

Course type

Full-time, Part-time route available

Study location Plymouth

Engage in holistic study of climate change, one of the defining challenges facing humanity and the planet today. Pursue specialist interests in climate science and its interpretation and application in policy, law and societal debates on adaptation and mitigation. Develop a deep appreciation of how intersections between science, policy, media and other societal concerns shape efforts to understand and respond to the climate crisis.

Climate Science, Policy and Society

Careers with this subject

Our graduates can offer specialist knowledge and skills to public, private and third-sector organisations, including town and country/spatial planners, involved in developing policies and initiatives to understand and adapt to climate change or to reduce emissions within their spheres of influence.

Key features

  • Gain a contemporary and interdisciplinary understanding of climate issues through vocationally-focused training led by experts in an enthusiastic, stimulating and diverse learning environment.
  • Acquire subject and transferrable skills to become a pioneering climate practitioner or researcher, tailoring your studies for your chosen career path.
  • Focus on the dimensions of climate change you feel most passionate about through module choices and an individual research dissertation.
  • Work with experts from the Faculty of Science and Engineering and Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business who achieved ‘internationally excellent’ ratings over multiple Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessments.
  • Balance work commitments and further education with the opportunity to study part time for a masters-level qualification.
  • Benefit from our local, national and international sector connections as part of a respected and active research community that includes the Sustainable Earth Institute and Marine Institute – the first and largest of its kind in the UK.

Course details

  • Year 1

  • The programme’s combination of interdisciplinary perspectives, class and field-based teaching, and engagement with organisations working on climate issues provides an exceptional foundation for careers with public sector organisations, businesses, specialist agencies and other non-government sectors that are working to achieve net zero emissions, promote just transitions, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. You have access to a host of specialist facilities, including state of-the-art palaeoecological soils, sediment and water laboratories, ISO 9000-accredited analytical facilities, a Geomapping Unit providing spatial datasets and specialist support for spatial data collection and analysis, and LABplus, a flexible learning space to support you with your practical work and laboratory skills.
    Core modules
    •  Environmental knowledge: from field to stakeholder
    • Economics, law and policy for offshore renewable energy
    • Governing climate change
    • Climate change science and policy
    • Dissertation

    Core modules

    • Governing Climate Change (IRL718)

      This module interrogates the governance of climate change at the international, national and local levels. It explores international climate diplomacy, national climate strategies, carbon markets and public-private partnerships, sub-national initiatives, and the role of civil society, examining the drivers of political debates, the main actors and their motivations, and the processes by which different forms of climate governance take shape.

    • Climate Change: Science and Policy (GEES507)

      This module explores the science and policy of climatic change, including lessons from the past and the relevance of past climates to the global warming debate. We question climate change detection and attribution, feedbacks and uncertainty in climate change. We explore political actions through international political agreements and national policies and adaptation strategies and management of change in the UK.

    • MSc Dissertation (GEES520)

      The student will complete an independent research project that they have designed in semester 1 as part of their research skills development. The record of the research will communicate the project aims, research problem, methodology, data analysis, interpretation, discussion/synthesis and conclusions in the format specified and to a professional standard.

    • Environmental Knowledge: From Field to Stakeholder (GEES536)

      This module reviews qualitative and quantitative research methods relevant to professional and academic investigations in the field of policy-making, planning, management and consultancy in the built and natural environments. It encompasses the complete lifecycle of research (design, planning, data collection, knowledge dissemination and application), including stakeholder engagement across these stages.

    • Economics, Law and Policy for Offshore Renewable Energy (MAR535)

      This module provides an overview of key economic concepts and issues relevant to the development and exploitation of offshore renewable energy (ORE). The module also provides an overview of the relevant legal regimes relevant to ORE, including property rights, climate change and energy, marine environmental protection and maritime safety and security.

    Optional modules

    • Digital Culture and Climate Change (DCS704)

      Social science approaches play a critical role in understanding how some of the most pressing issues of our time such as climate change are communicated and addressed. This module examines the role of digital media in communicating climate change and debates concerning impact and influence.

    • Contemporary Themes in Environmental Law and Policy (LAW725)

      The module provides a critical insight into contemporary environmental challenges and the legal and policy responses, developed or developing, applied to them. Research-led, and with learning structured around a critical and applied context, the module focuses on the framing of solutions to various global and local environmental issues.

    • Learning for Sustainability and Global Citizenship (MASU755)

      This innovative module uses an applied community engaged approach to look critically and creatively at notions of sustainability and global citizenship competencies, and the learning contexts and systems in which individuals, institutions and communities gain these competencies. This entails applying the UN Sustainable development Goals to real world projects that seek to address sustainability priorities in and around the city of Plymouth, enabling students to explore ideas of interdisciplinarity and interconnectedness, with a dynamic and experiential link between theory and practice. This inclusion of a service learning pedagogical approach enables consideration of the potential contribution of formal and non-formal education, whilst emphasising the links between our lives and those of people throughout the world. In so doing, it allows students to consider ways to actively contribute to a world in which power and resources for change leadership are more equitably shared.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MSc Climate Science Policy and Society Programme Specification 7546

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

A good honours degree (first or second class) or equivalent. Other qualifications accompanied by substantial experience in an appropriate field may also be considered. Non-standard applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.
International students: IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent.

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £9,500 £10,000
International £16,500 £17,600
Part time (Home) £530 £560
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business additional costs.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

We offer several scholarships for international students who wish to study postgraduate taught (PGT) degree programmes.

How to apply

When to apply
Most of our taught programmes begin in September. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full.
Before you apply
Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance. 
Disability Inclusion Services
If you have an impairment, health condition or disability, learn about the additional support the University provides.
International students
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office. Take a look at our how to apply information or email
Submitting an application
Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page). 
What happens after I apply?
You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeksof us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.
We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail. 
If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:
Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858
Admissions policy
More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our admissions policy which can be found on the student regulations, policies and procedures page. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

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