HIS4170 – Climate & History – from the Little Ice Age to Global Warming

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Global warming caused by human activity is transforming our world today. However, climate change is not a new phenomenon. In this course, we will explore how climate change has shaped human history from the Little Ice Age (1300-1800) to contemporary Global Warming. We will use case studies from the Black Death and medieval Norway to the Age of Oil to investigate why some societies are vulnerable and others more resilient to climatic shifts. We will trace how climate change influenced social reform, political upheaval, and technological developments. Finally, we will learn what these examples can contribute to the current debate on climate impacts.

Learning outcome

On successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • comprehend the complex relationship between climate and culture.
  • identify the historical roots of current environmental problems.
  • apply the methods of the humanities and the sciences to deciphering the past.
  • work competently with scientific texts from different backgrounds.
  • articulate an argument based on complex causal analysis and evidence.
  • formulate a written essay connecting various disciplinary perspectives.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

A background of at least 30 credits in humanities or social sciences.

A good ability to read, write and understand English is required for this course.


The course will be taught in twelve two-hour sessions, the classes will consist of mainly of seminars and structured debates, including one or two field trips.

During the course the student groups will introduce one of the texts in the syllabi – the allocation will take part in the first session. As the group discussions require a solid understanding of the reading texts, careful in-depth reading of the material provided is essential for taking this course.

Resources and information in this course will be given in Canvas.


Compulsory assignments:

  • Participants shall write an obligatory exposé (1 to 2 pages including relevant literature) on a topic of their choosing within the framework of the course. If accepted – subject to possible revision – this will qualify for the final examination.
  • All participants will give an oral presentation on a piece of research in class

The compulsory activity/assignment must be compleeted in the same semester as you take the exam.


The final examination is a term paper – based on the obligatory exposé.

  • The length of your paper should be approximately 10 pages. We consider a standard page to be 2300 characters without spacing.
  • Do not write your name in your exam (term paper). Use your candidate number. It is a four digit number which you will find next to your exam registration in StudentWeb. You are given a unique candidate number for each exam.
  • The paper should have a front page stating your candidate number, the course code and name, and the semester and year.
  • The front page, bibliography and footnotes are not included in the page count.
  • You are required to follow the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. This means you have to cite your sources according to the citation style of your choice and provide a full list of the sources you have used in the bibliography at the end of your paper. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.
  • Please remember to insert page numbers.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.


    Grading scale

    Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

    Explanations and appeals

    Resit an examination

    Withdrawal from an examination

    It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

    Special examination arrangements

    Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

    Facts about this course






    Every spring


    Every spring

    Teaching language