Student Pages
Postgraduate course

Causes of Climate Change

  • ECTS credits5
  • Teaching semesterSpring, Autumn
  • Course codeMNF344
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Teaching semester

Autumn, the course is taught as an intensively during four weeks in October. The course will only be taught if enough students enroll.

Objectives and Content

The seminar aims at giving an introduction to the science of climate change. It provides the basis for understanding the underlying physical processes governing climate variations on different timescales in the past, present and future.

The seminar focuses on explaining the main external forcing mechanisms such as the sun, volcanoes, and changes in greenhouse gasses and aerosols, which can contribute to changing the global energy budget and initiate climate variations.

The seminar will also describe the important role of internal feedback mechanisms and the energy transport in the atmosphere and ocean, in order to understand regional variations in climate. Through this seminar, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the complexities of the climate system, and be able to put the recently observed, man-made changes in climate in the context of past natural changes.

The seminar consists of video lectures as well as independent reading and exercises provided on an interactive online platform. In addition to complete the online content, the students are expected to take part in weekly lectures and colloquia. The course is run over 4 weeks followed by a term project.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:


The student

  • can explain the fundamental physical mechanisms behind large scale climate variability
  • understands the basic external forcing mechanisms that initiate climate variations
  • can explain and quantify the main feedback mechanisms in the climate system
  • understands the importance of oceanic and atmospheric energy transport
  • can explain how climate has varied in the past and how these changes are recorded
  • understands the role of ocean heat uptake
  • can perform calculations of the earth´s sensitivity to external forcing such as from the Sun, volcanoes and changes in greenhouse gasses


The student

  • can perform calculations of the earth´s sensitivity to external forcing such as from the Sun, volcanoes and changes in greenhouse gasses
  • will strengthen their scientific communication skills and ability to present scientific information

General competence

The student

  • have strengthened ability for critical thinking and physically based reasoning
  • have increased cross-disciplinary awareness on the interaction between humans and the Earth system, and understand the relationships between environmental, socio-economic and demographic factors

Required Previous Knowledge

R1 (Intermediate level of mathematics from Norwegian high school) or S1+S2 (high school mathematics for social sciences)

Recommended Previous Knowledge

Basic knowledge in mathematics, physics or geoscience

Access to the Course

The course is open to students from all Faculties at UiB who fulfill the admission requirements.

Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

The teaching will include a Massive Open Online course (MOOC), lectures and group exercises.
MOOC course: 10 hours a week for 3 weeks for the MOOC
Lectures: 2 hours a week for 4 weeks, starting the same week as the MOOC opens
Group exercises: 2 hours a week for 4 weeks, starting the same week as the MOOC opens

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Compulsary assignments are

  • Mandatory attandance at the lectures (6 out of 8)
  • Attend the MOOC course "Causes of Climate Change"
  • Active participation in group work
  • Mandatory semester thesis.

Compulsory assignments are valid only for the semester when it has been approved

Forms of Assessment

The assessment form will be:

  • Assessment of compulsory assignments and attendance
  • Attended the mandatory parts of the course
  • Passed the semester thesis
  • Has completed at least 90 % of the course steps and all the test questions in the MOOC course "Causes of Climate Change"

Due to the measures taken to avoid the spread of SARS-CoV-2, UiB is closed for teaching and assessment. As a consequence, the following changes is made to assessment spring semester 2020:

  • Grading scale ¿Pass/Fail¿ instead of ¿A-F¿

Grading Scale

Passed / Failed

Subject Overlap


Assessment Semester

Assesment only in semesters of instruction.

Reading List

The reading list will be available within June 1st for the autumn semester

Course Evaluation

The course will be evaluated by the students in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department.


Contact Information