Climate Change Courses

By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Climate Change?

Climate change is the long-term change in the average weather patterns of Earth’s local, regional and global climates. These changes have a broad range of observed effects that have become synonymous with the term climate change.

Changes observed in Earth’s climate since the early 20th century are primarily driven by human activities, particularly fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere, raising Earth’s average surface temperature. These human-produced temperature increases are commonly referred to as global warming.

Other human activities, such as agriculture and deforestation, also contribute to the proliferation of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Scientists use observations from the ground, air, and space, along with theoretical models, to monitor and study past, present, and future climate change.

Climate data records provide evidence of climate change key indicators, such as global land and ocean temperature increases, rising sea levels; ice loss at Earth’s poles and in mountain glaciers, frequency and severity changes in extreme weather such as hurricanes, heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, floods and precipitation, and cloud and vegetation cover changes, to name but a few.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering Climate Change courses in the following subject areas:

  • Introduction to Environmental Awareness – The study of key environmental issues and impacts, environmental aspects, and personal social responsibility.
  • Earth in Crisis: Environmental Policy in an International Context – Investigate causes and consequences of international environmental problems and resource conflicts, including loss of biological diversity, water allocation, and urbanization – focusing particularly on climate change.
  • Diploma in Environmental and Planning Law – A comprehensive practical overview of the current legislative framework in the environmental and planning realms.
  • Pre-University Environmental Science – An introduction to the core science modules physics, chemistry, and biology along with mathematics and environmental studies
  • Environmental Impact Assessment – An overview of the theory and the practice of Environmental Impact Assessment as operated within Ireland and under international legislation.
  • Environmental Management and Agriculture – The study of soil, ecology, plant and animal physiology, farm crops, farming practices, genetics, and microbiology.
  • CK 404 Environmental and Earth System Sciences – Gain an understanding of the complex interactions between the various components of our earth systems.
  • Environmental Change: The Record in The Rocks – Undertake practical fieldwork and supplementary laboratory experience appropriate to an Earth sciences degree, investigating the interpretation of fossil environmental indicators.
  • Environmental Science – This wide-ranging course draws together biology, chemistry, Earth science, and physics.
  • Environmental Monitoring, Modelling, and Control – Drinking water supply, air quality management, noise control, and solid waste are the main themes of this course, concluding with an environmental impact assessment project.
  • The Geological Record of Environmental Change – Explore the evidence of environmental change in the geological record, including sedimentary sequences, climatic and tectonic processes, the ‘greenhouse’ Cretaceous world, and the Ice Age.
  • Certificate in Environmental Biotechnology – Gain the skills and knowledge of the use and potential of biotechnology in crop production, soil bioremediation, and bioenergy production.

Studying Climate Change in college

Many Climate Change courses take place over 1 year to 4 years depending on the course and modules selected. There are also part-time courses and night courses available so you can be sure to fit in your studies no matter what your schedule is like.

Courses will cover all theory work through lectures, assignments, tutorials, and taught modules. Assessments will take place continuously with written examinations and practical assignments combined to achieve a qualification. You could also consider joining relevant societies that will provide you with opportunities to get involved in ecological projects and you can find volunteering opportunities through job websites and the websites of conservation organizations.

There are also many opportunities to volunteer locally or overseas and you’ll usually find adverts for these on environmental websites and in your careers service and university department.

Work Experience will not only allow you to obtain a deeper knowledge and understanding of the industry, but it will also give you a chance to do some essential networking with other industry professionals and gain valuable contacts for the future.

Career options

After completing a course in Climate Change you will be able to get started in a career that uses specific knowledge of climates and factors that influence weather.

Increasing environmental regulation means that there is a growing demand for consultancy services. You may be employed by a consultancy firm and work on a range of commercial or government contracts, addressing a variety of environmental issues. You may be responsible for ensuring that your client complies with environmental regulations. There are opportunities for contract work but self-employment or freelance work is rare without considerable experience.

Working hours will depend on whether you are employed by a company with set business hours or if you are contracted to various facilities or companies. Your hours may include regular extra hours, but not shifts. Some consultancies may operate a flexi-time or overtime system. Weekend working may be necessary to meet client deadlines and when carrying out survey work that is dependent on good weather.

Work is typically office-based with time spent outdoors on-site visits. Site-based work may require travel and absence from home overnight. This varies depending on the project, and there may be periods when you’re in the office for several weeks, and others you spend on site. As you gain more experience, the amount of office-based work you carry out will increase.

You will typically work as part of a small multidisciplinary team, although some contracts may involve conducting solo fieldwork away from home.

Related jobs include:

  • Climatologist
  • Geologist
  • Ecologist
  • Conservationist
  • Environmental scientists and specialists
  • Geoscientists
  • Atmospheric scientists and meteorologists
  • Biochemists and biophysicists
  • Conservation scientists
  • Hydrologists
  • Urban and regional planners
  • Agricultural and food scientists
  • Environmental planner
  • Environmental engineer
  • Energy manager
  • Environmental lawyer
  • Chief sustainability director

Further study

After completing a course in Climate Change you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field to increase your knowledge base and skillset. Postgraduate study can also be used as a means to change career focus or to gain professional qualifications required to practice in certain career areas such as ecology or wildlife management, environmental and earth sciences, environmental engineering, environmental management, geology, geophysics, hydrogeology, sustainability, and environmental management.


What are the most common areas of study for environmental issues?

You may work on several environmental issues or specialize in one area, such as:

· Air, land, and water contamination

· Environmental impact assessment and flood risk

· Waste management and recycling

· Emissions and climate change

· Renewable energy opportunities

· Environmental management systems

Where can I study Climate Change?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

· Research released in the 2018 IPCC report, stating that 20 of the warmest years on record have occurred in the last 22 years.

· More than 1 million species are at risk of extinction by climate change. Extinction is a natural phenomenon, claiming about five species per year. But some experts suggest we’re in the midst of the sixth mass extinction — one that is caused mostly by human activity.

· The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere, as of May 2020, is the highest it has been in human history.

· 11% of all global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans are due to deforestation

· Conserving ecosystems is often more cost-effective than human-made interventions. In the Maldives, preserving the natural coral reef is four times cheaper than building a sea wall for coastal protection, even after 10 years of maintenance costs

Mariza Halliday

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