HGO4301 – The social dimensions of climate change

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

This course focuses on the social dimensions of climate change, emphasizing different approaches to understanding and addressing what climate change means for individuals, communities, ecosystems, species and humanity. The lectures and readings highlight social scientific approaches to climate change, particularly how different framings of the problem influence the types of solutions that are pursued or ignored. Students will be introduced to and reflect upon key concepts such as vulnerability, adaptation and resilience. The contribution of geographers to social understandings of climate change will be emphasized in the seminars, where each student will present the work of one social scientist discussed in the context of the course curriculum. There will be a written exam that focuses on understandings of theories, approaches, and concepts (40% of grade) as well as a course paper that focuses on theoretical, political, and practical aspects of climate change adaptation (60% of grade).

Learning outcome


  • Explain and provide examples of different theories and approaches to understanding climate change;

  • Recognize the implications of climate change for society, and the different ways of understanding and explaining causality.

  • Understand how the social sciences can contribute to a broader and deeper understanding of climate change and adaptation.

  • Awareness of key contributions of geographers to climate change research.

  • Identify both the need for and challenges to climate change adaptation.

  • Communicate how the framing of climate change can influence the solutions that are prioritized or ignored.


  • Critically read and discuss academic articles on climate change, recognizing the importance of different discourses and approaches;

  • Link theory and practice through an in-depth paper on climate change adaptation;

  • Develop skills for oral and written communication of knowledge and competencies.


  • Ability to explain linkages between social and environmental problems.

  • Capacity to understand the social dimensions of climate change from multiple perspectives.

  • Improved capacity for self-reflection and self-awareness.

  • Critical engagement with climate change research and its implications for policy and practice.


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.

This course is a part of the Master's program in Human Geography. Students with admission to other relevant master’s degree programmes can apply for admission as guest students.


Recommended previous knowledge

SOSGEO2301 - Environment and society

Overlapping courses

This course overlaps with the following courses: SGO4301 - Global Environmental Change and SOSGEO4301 - Global environmental change


The teaching will consist of lectures and seminars.

Compulsory instruction and coursework

Participation in 75% of the seminars is mandatory, which includes submission and presentation of a short paper on approaches and contributions of human geographers to climate change research.

Approved compulsory attendance is valid as long as the course is offered.

Absence from compulsory tuition activities

If you are ill or have another valid reason for being absent from compulsory tuition activities, your absence may be approved or the compulsory activity may be postponed.


There will be a written exam that focuses on understandings of theories, approaches and concepts (40% of grade), as well as a course paper that focuses on theoretical, political and practical aspects of climate change adaptation (60% of grade).

The course paper should be 5000 words (excluding references and notes), using 12 point letter size and a spacing of lines 1 1/2.

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.

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in before the examination. Please read regulations for dictionaries permitted at the examination.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or 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

It is recommended to request an explanation of your grade before you decide to appeal.



The deadline to request an explanation is one week after the grade is published. For oral and practical examinations, the deadline is immediately after you have received your grade.

The explanation should normally be given within two weeks after you have asked for it. The examiner decides whether the explanation is to be given in writing or verbally.

Ask for explanation of your grade in this course:

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

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.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Every other autumn starting 2017


Every other autumn starting 2017

Teaching language