Coasts and Climate Change B: Vulnerability and Adaptation GEOG4120

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course covers the management of coastal dynamics and the risks this poses to society in a changing climate. The course is interdisciplinary in nature and explores how physical geography, human geography, social sciences, public policy, engineering and ecology are all fundamental to managing coastal climate change risks for ecosystems and society. We will explore core concepts including risk, vulnerability and adaptation to coastal climate change, drawing on real life examples from around the world. By carrying out vulnerability assessments/adaptation planning as a team, you will gain experience in practical skills including consultancy style report writing, facilitation and workshop planning.


Four 2-hour lectures and four 1-hour seminars run in the second half of the semester.

Four hours of field class held locally in Glasgow .

Requirements of Entry

Mandatory Entry Requirements

Normally fulfilment of entry requirements to one of the following programmes at honours (including joint honours associated with them): Level 3 Geography, Level 3 Earth Science, or Level 3 in an appropriate background subject (e.g. politics, social science, urban studies, economics, law, history).

Excluded Courses





- Group blog summarising adaptation options for consultees (30%)

- Individual and/or contribution to group consultancy style report on coastal adaptation (70%)

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below.

Course Aims

The course will provide an interdisciplinary overview of the challenges for ecosystems and society (communities, infrastructure, businesses) to living with dynamic coasts in a changing climate. This challenge is a 'wicked problem' and our efforts to manage this grand social challenge are currently weak. You will gain insight into theories (e.g. vulnerability, adaptation), tools (e.g. vulnerability indexes, adaptation pathways) and the practical challenges of helping society reduce their vulnerability and adapt to coastal climate change.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ assess hazards in the coastal zone and their implications for coastal zone management.

■ critically assess the role of human activity in changing vulnerability of society and ecosystems to coastal climate change.

■ discuss the diversity of specialised approaches to, and techniques for, assessing the vulnerability of coastal communities to climate change risks.

■ Identify and evaluate the adaptation options that may be taken;

■ communicate ideas, principles and theories effectively and fluently by written, oral and visual means;

■ develop and practice team-work skills, and delivery of independent work as part of an interdisciplinary team.

■ Explain and design facilitation and consultation approaches.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.