Course content

Paleo-climatology is the study of earth’s climate history from the deep past to recent climate change. It spotlights changes on geological time scales as well as variations over glacial-interglacial cycles, and recent human induced changes. There is a particular focus on the climate archives in the large polar ice sheets and the geological record. The student will get acquainted with reading the paleo-climate archives, and judging their uncertainties.

The goal of the course is to provide an introduction to and general knowledge of what can be learned from paleo-climate archives about global and regional climate on timescales from a few thousand to millions of years. The course will bring the student up to date with new records of past climate and their interpretation. The course provides the background for a critical view on man made climate change.


MSc Programme in Climate Change

MSc Programme in Physics

Learning outcome


  • Describe the current state of knowledge on past climate change at ta variety of time scales.
  • Understand the main drivers of climate change in the past including the astronomically driven changes in solar radiation and the impacts of changes in the carbon cycle.
  • Provide an overview of the usefulness of different paleoclimate archives.
  • Understand the importance of comparing different paleo records.


  • Make a simple description of a climate record.
  • Understand paleo climate terminology and be able to use the terminology to communicate with paleo-climate scientists.


  • Make first order explanations of complex interactions of the earth system influencing the climate.
  • Synthesize climate information from various sources.
  • Understand the difference between global and regional climate change.
  • Have a perception of natural climate variations and the superimposed human influence on climate.

student presentations,

See Absalon for final course material. The following is an example of expected course litterature.


Required-reading: William F. Ruddiman: Earth’s Climate, past and future.  W.H. Freeman.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 24 hours
The candidates will be assigned a topic on which they have to write a report.
The individual report is to be 1000-2500 words during a 24 hour take home exam.
Relevant figures and references are not to be included in the report but are to be added in an appendix.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
two internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

see learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 32
  • Seminar
  • 16
  • Preparation
  • 158
  • English
  • 206