Human Adaptation to Climate Change and Variability

Course content

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).


MSc Programme in Climate Change
MSc Programme in Environmental Science
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics
MSc Programme in Global Environment and Development

Learning outcome

The aim of the course is to give a good understanding of the complexity of human adaptation to climate change and variability 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:

  • Central theories, concepts and methods of adaptation to climate change and variability – including the concepts of vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity.
  • Central constraints and possibilities related to the adaptive capacity of human beings and societies, at different spatial and temporal scales.
  • How the diversity of contexts (socio-economic, political, institutional, and bio-physical) influence the adaptive capacity of communities, cities and nations across the world.


skills in:

  • Describing central theories and concepts related to adaptation to climate change and variability.
  • Selecting relevant theories and approaches to understand current and potential adaptation to climate change and variability at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.
  • Comparing adaptation across different contexts (socio-economic, political, institutional, and bio-physical) and also 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:

  • Critically assess current climate change adaptation strategies and future options at different spatial and temporal scales - using knowledge from a variety of scientific disciplines.
  • Analyse the effects of the specific context (socio-economic, political, institutional, and bio-physical) on the possibilities and constraints for adaptation to climate change and variability.
  • Evaluate different policy instruments available to facilitate adaptation to climate change and variability.

The course includes a combination of lectures, group discussions, student presentations, and an excursion. During the course the student writes an assignment, based on a topic of own choice.

Please see Absalon.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

During course exercises oral feedback is given based on the students' discussions and presentations. Also oral feedback is given as supervision of the written assignment.

After the exam a short oral feedback is given concerning the written assignment and oral presentation.

The students are expected to give peer feedback to fellow students concerning oral presentations of course material and conceptualisation related to the written assignment.


7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Written assignment, during course
Type of assessment details
A written assignment is prepared during the course and must be handed in prior to the exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It also includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see learning outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 21
  • Preparation
  • 154
  • Theory exercises
  • 21
  • Excursions
  • 6
  • Guidance
  • 4
  • English
  • 206


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master

1 block

Block 4
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Study Board of Geosciences and Management
Contracting department
  • Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Anne Gravsholt Busck   (3-666c67456e6c7333707a336970)
Saved on the 28-02-2023

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