NIGK13012U Human Adaptation to Climate Change and Variability

Volume 2015/2016
MSc Programme in Climate Change
MSc Programme in Agriculture

This course investigates how human societies adapt to climate change and variability. Central concepts and theories in current adaptation research are presented and discussed using case studies from different parts of the world. In doing so central actors, policies and management strategies are analysed. This includes private and public stakeholders and institutions, and adaptation strategies and initiatives at different geographical scale (local, regional, national, and supranational).

Learning Outcome

The aim of the course is to give a good understanding of human adaptation to climate change and viability across a range of spatial and temporal scales - and including insights from natural, technical and social science, as well as ethical elements.

After completing the course the student will have obtained

knowledge of:

  • Basic concepts and theories of adaptation, vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity - including constraints and possibilities to the adaptive capacity of human beings and societies
  • How communities, cities and nations across the world have adapted to climate change
  • Ethical aspects of global climate change justice and burden sharing in international climate policy


skills in:

  • Describing central concepts and theories related to adaptation to climate change and viability
  • Identifing relevant approaches to understand climate change as a driver of socioeconomic change
  • Selecting relevant theories and methods to understand adaptation to climate change at a variety of spatial and temporal scales
  • Comparing adaptation across cultural and social settings and develop generic insights based on such comparisons
  • Presenting and discussing, in oral and written form, complex issues involving both natural, technical and social science, as well as ethical elements


have competences to:

  • Incorporate various scientific disciplines when considering scientific and political analysis of adaptation to climate change and viability issues
  • Assess and understand the importance of social, cultural and political aspects of climate change adaptation
  • Evaluate the different policy instruments available to facilitate adaptation to climate change at a range of spatial scales from villages to mega-cities to nations states
  • Explain the relevance and limitations of adaptation to climate change at a range of spatial scales
  • Assess the beneficial/negative aspects of (current) climate change adaptation at a range of spatial scales

See course webpage in Absalon

Lectures, student presentations, group discussions, and excursion.
The course is part of the Master of Science in Climate Change, Impacts, Mitigation and Adaptation (CCIMA).
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Seminar
  • 21
  • Exam Preparation
  • 50
  • Excursions
  • 6
  • Guidance
  • 8
  • Lectures
  • 21
  • Preparation
  • 100
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Written assignment, 1 week
The oral examination takes its point of departure in a written essay (which may be written individually or by a group). The subject of the essay will be announced one week before the submission date.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assesment

The students will be assessed on the basis of their ability to give a clear account of both the contents of the essay and the course literature, and of their capacity to discuss the issues brought up during the oral examination, and in particular connect the natural, technical and social science components of climate change adaptation.