Climate Futures: Science, Society and Politics MSc

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2023
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in any subject.
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£12,500 (total)
International fees
£26,000 (total)

Course overview

SEE students talking in Sustainable Garden

Climate change has become one of the most defining crises of our time, affecting every corner of the world. From extreme weather to food and water insecurity, the future of our planet relies on qualified specialists to deliver solutions to help combat these problems.

Our Climate Futures Masters will provide you with a holistic understanding of the climate crisis, delivering the scientific, social and political approaches you’ll need to respond creatively and effectively to the unprecedented, complex and dynamic challenges of a changing climate.

The transdisciplinary design of this course means you’ll be engaging with multiple perspectives from world-leading climate experts across the University— giving you a comprehensive and extensive skill set that’ll enable you to challenge failed strategies and provide innovative solutions going forward. You’ll be taught by academics and researchers who are dedicated to providing climate solutions and are directly engaged in a wide variety of groundbreaking research surrounding the climate crisis, meaning you’ll be at the helm of innovations as they happen.

Here at Leeds, we also offer a uniquely active, immersive learning experience with the chance to put theory into practice and get involved in exciting, climate-based projects across the campus, city and beyond.

This means that, once you graduate, you’ll be equipped with the in-depth knowledge, skills and practical experience that’ll empower you to contribute towards meaningful climate action and pursue a challenging yet rewarding career that contributes to sustainable paths for our future.

Why study at Leeds:

  • Graduate with a transdisciplinary MSc that covers the scientific, social and political areas of climate from a university which is actively taking action on climate change.
  • Learn the latest insights in diverse aspects of climate change and sustainability from the research conducted across the several world-leading institutes right here on campus, which feeds directly into the course.
  • Advance your knowledge and skills in critical areas such as the societal challenges connected to climate change, the natural science describing climatic change, the history of climatology and social and political dimensions of climate as a problem.
  • Tailor your degree to suit your career aspirations and interests with a selection of topical yet diverse optional modules, giving you the flexibility to shape the course to your preferences.
  • Develop your individual and team skills in real-world challenge-based activities that give you the chance to pursue your specific interests and grow your professional network through engagement with our private and public sector contacts.
  • Discover cutting-edge science, the latest perspectives and innovative solutions from leading climate researchers, professionals (e.g. policy makers/advisors, activists, organisations) and impacted communities in talks and seminars across campus.
  • Take your own action against climate change throughout the course and get hands-on in exciting and transformational projects including our Living Labs, new woodlands and rewilding initiatives, the Sustainability Service, Atmosphere and Critical Zone Observatory, Geosolutions, the centre for Advanced Research Computing and the Leeds Climate Commission.
  • Experience expert theoretical and practical teaching, delivered by a programme team who are actively working to tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges.
  • Join one of our societies, such as SusSoc, where you can meet like-minded people at events such as socials and sports.

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Course details

This course will equip you with the transdisciplinary knowledge and tools to become facilitators of innovative climate action. The course breaks new ground in the race to understand, mitigate and adapt to twenty-first century climate change.

Through our programme of active learning, you’ll engage with multiple perspectives from world-leading climate experts across campus, directly tapping into the unique depth and breadth of climate research at the University of Leeds. You'll acquire a trailblazing ability to see and tackle climate-posed problems from multiple angles, becoming a holistic, strategic thinker, uniquely equipped to facilitate transformative action. No pre-requisite knowledge is required for this course.

Semester 1

Semester 1 provides an interdisciplinary landing platform for you to begin your journey into the complexities and challenges of climate change as a whole. Diversity in students’ experiences and knowledges will be celebrated, adding breadth to your existing knowledge and skill base, while building onto your current expertise.

Teaching in this semester will equip you with the core conceptual, empirical and analytical skills in social, political and natural science disciplines required to undertake subsequent specialist modules. This will include a residential field course that will immerse you in practical climate-based solutions, building strong relationships with your peers and instructors and practicing core transdisciplinary knowledge and skills. The rest of the semester will be devoted to following up this knowledge with drop-in skills workshops and two compulsory 30-credit modules.

Semester 2

The second semester is geared around problem-based learning, provoking you to start creating your own innovative approaches to challenges posed by climate change. You'll select two modules from a choice of 30-credit electives based on the outcomes you want to achieve and roles you want to play in addressing climate change. These modules will build on the interdisciplinary foundation already established to directly address transdisciplinary themes from the public, private or third sectors, and achieve deeper specialisation within chosen topics.

Semester 3

In semester 3, the capstone project equips you to actively address a climate challenge with mentorship from an interdisciplinary team. The module is designed to guide you through building a track record in identifying and enacting positive solutions in a team, while developing and showcasing your unique individual strengths and professional skills.


Residential fieldwork in the UK will immerse you in multi-disciplinary methods, language and cultures. Embedded in the physical, social and political sciences, the course will foster effective communication and collaboration between individuals, maximising different strengths and backgrounds.

You'll undertake observational and experimental activities to characterise environmental conditions and will conduct social science research into interventions for acting on climate change, including related policy and planning processes, and public acceptance issues.

Additional fieldwork will continue the programme of experiential learning. This will give you further opportunities to specialise in using industry-grade equipment and cutting-edge approaches to understanding and communicating climate change as a natural and social challenge, for example in conjunction with the University of Leeds farm and woodlands, renewable energy and transport infrastructure projects, and various conservation/re-wilding projects.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.


Compulsory modules

The compulsory modules will develop your core practical and critical analytical skills and methods in social, political and natural sciences to enable deeper cross-disciplinary specialisation later in the course. Learning in the semester 1 modules will be kept in step, and the topics will be regularly bridged, through the residential field course and interdisciplinary challenge-based workshops as part of the 60-credit capstone project module.

Physical Climate Change, Impacts and Mitigation 30 credits

You’ll be introduced to the natural sciences behind climate change, the history of climatology and the philosophy and sociology of science, establishing a scientific literacy that is essential for understanding and responding to climate change. Teaching will be immersive and practical, taking a problem-solving approach to equip you with a range of methods and strategies to understand the physical and natural science behind climate change.

Social and Political Dimensions of the Climate Challenge 30 credits

You’ll be equipped to reflect critically on current approaches to tackling climate change, including mitigation, adaptation and governance. The module introduces essential social analytical tools for navigating diverse climate knowledge disciplines and understanding and critiquing competing approaches to social and technical transformation.

Engaging with Climate Change: Capstone Project 60 credits

You’ll take part in a residential field course and regular practical and problem-solving workshops to develop your research and communications skills. The module will enhance your opportunity to put into practice the language, theory and research methods to communicate and enact change across disciplines, with a focus on employability skills. Building on these skills and drawing upon your individual strengths, you’ll undertake a capstone project, with support from mentors, to pursue and develop your specific interests, shedding new light on a climate-related challenge of your choice.

Optional modules

You’ll study any two of the following four optional modules, each exploring a particular perspective on the climate challenge facing society today. This will build on the breadth of knowledge, approaches and methods gained in semester 1, providing more focused subject specialism and expertise. You’ll engage with specific case studies to learn about the underpinning scientific, social and political concepts, covering the response of the natural world to climate change, relevant climate technologies and communications, social mobilisations and issues of policy and governance. No pre-requisite knowledge is required for any of these modules.

Climate Risk 30 credits

This module explores the science and politics of climate change as a risk management challenge and how it’s framed in terms of probabilistic future scenarios involving assessments of impacts, vulnerabilities and approaches to risk mitigation and adaptation that balance costs and benefits. It will also give you a critical understanding of the dominant approach of climate change policy.

Climate Security 30 credits

This module explores the challenge of navigating perils of a climate emergency. Understanding climate change as a question of securing threatened natural and social systems directs attention towards worst case impacts and scenarios (including tipping points), potential extraordinary and emergency measures.

Climate and Development 30 credits

This module explores the many ways in which climate change intersects with the challenge of global development, sustainable livelihoods and related goals like poverty reduction, equality, health and food security with a focus on the Global South. It critiques colonial notions of modernisation and climate action.

Climate Justice 30 credits

This module explores how climate change – and plans to tackle it – inevitably have complex repercussions for social and natural systems, and therefore involve multi-dimensional questions of justice and fairness. This includes the (re)distribution of goods, resources, risks and power between and within nation states. It considers a range of solutions coming from governance approaches, legislation and grass roots action/activism.

Learning and teaching

The programme will adopt a blended approach to learning, developing digital offerings alongside immersive face-to-face teaching.

You'll be provided with the basis material you’ll need to give you the core level of knowledge and understanding needed for the course, no matter what your background, followed up with digital materials to assess your own level of learning.

Traditional lecture-style content will be delivered digitally (e.g., as screencasts) and through the reinforcement of clearly structured core preparatory reading that maps onto the online and face-to-face activities directly. Your time with teaching staff will be spent in face-to-face group sessions, including research skills & Continuing Professional Development (CPD) tutorials, challenge-based workshops (e.g. seminars, debates, hackathons, discussions), practical work (e.g. laboratory work, fieldwork and computer-based sessions) and oral/poster presentations.

Recognising the diversity in student backgrounds, learning will be supported with opt-in drop-in sessions to offer additional help with academic skills, as well as opt-in blended delivery of employability-related training.

Specialist facilities and resources

As a university, we are heavily involved in sustainability and tackling climate change, which means we have a range of specialist facilities and industry-grade equipment, much of which is used to inform our research.

Through our programme of immersive teaching, you’ll engage with our observational and experimental facilities; such as farms, woodlands, rewilding projects, renewable energy projects, remote and in-situ instrumentation operated in conjunction with the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and our outdoor centre situated in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. You’ll also have access to the Atmosphere and Critical Zone Observatory, laboratories and high-performance computation too.

Our Virtual Learning Environment will help to support your studies: it’s a central place where you can find all the information and resources for the School, your programme and modules.

You can also benefit from support to develop your academic skills, within the curriculum and through online resources, workshops, one-to-one appointments and drop-in sessions.

Active research environment

Learn from and work with the experts. The University of Leeds is home to several world leading research institutes on climate change and sustainability, working to tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges. Throughout your degree you'll be taught by leaders in their fields and will be directly engaged with their cutting-edge research.

Academics and researchers teaching on this course are based in or working with:

Programme team

The wider programme team is made up of experts from a variety of relevant disciplines such as climate science, social studies and politics.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


You’ll be assessed using a broad range of methods that will not only test your knowledge but will give you first-hand experience in producing and completing ‘real-world’ tasks.

Each assessment has been carefully designed to provide you with diverse opportunities to develop and demonstrate key transferrable skills that will prepare you for your career, whilst gaining deeper insights into the topics being discussed in each module.


Entry requirements

A bachelor's degree with a 2:1 (hons) in any subject.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information, please contact the Admissions Team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks)

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. You could study a part-time online course starting in January, or a full-time course in summer. Find out more about online pre-sessionals.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadlines

Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

30 July 2023 – International applicants

10 September 2023 – UK applicants

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Taught Admissions Policy 2023

This course is taught by

School of Earth and Environment
School of Politics and International Studies

Contact us

School of Earth and Environment Postgraduate Admissions Team



UK: £12,500 (total)

International: £26,000 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Additional cost information

Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs associated with compulsory field trips are covered by the university.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Career opportunities

The climate crisis has become one of the greatest challenges of our time. It’s a multidimensional problem that needs to be treated as such to reach holistic solutions for the future.

Because this MSc takes a transdisciplinary approach, you’ll have the broad knowledge base surrounding the three critical areas needed to tackle climate change: climate science, social studies and political systems/theories. You’ll also be equipped with lifelong skills for collaborative problem solving and teamwork. The sheer scope of skills and understanding you’ll learn could give you the edge when you graduate and open a lot of doors in terms of career opportunities in industry.

From research to media communications, governmental institutions to NGOs, your specialist yet transferable skill set means you won’t be limited to just one career path choice – with the potential to make a real difference to the future of the world.

Here's some examples of the job roles that could be available to you when you graduate:

  • Climate Science Advisors
  • Policy Officers
  • Civil Service Social Researchers and Analysts
  • Stakeholder and Community Engagement Officers
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Officers
  • Communications Officers/Managers
  • Environmental Campaigners
  • Educators and teachers
  • Partnership Managers
  • Supply Chain Managers
  • Risk Managers
  • Project and Programme Managers

Careers support

At Leeds, we help you to prepare for your future from day one — that’s one of the reasons our graduates are so sought after by employers. The University’s Career Centre is one of the largest in the country, providing a wide range of resources to ensure you are prepared to take your next steps after graduation and get you where you want to be.

  • Dedicated Employability Officer — gain quality advice, guidance and information to help you choose a career path. From CV and cover letter writing to supporting you with job applications, our School’s dedicated Employability Enhancement Officer is on hand to help maximise your capabilities through a process of personal development and career planning.
  • Employability and networking events — we run a full range of events, including the School of Earth and Environment Careers Fair, with employers who are actively recruiting for roles and a dedicated Industry Recruitment Day, giving you the opportunity to network with industry sponsors. 
  • MyCareer system — during your course and after you graduate, you’ll have access to a dedicated careers portal where you can book appointments with our team, get information on careers and see job vacancies and upcoming events.
  • Opportunities at Leeds — there are plenty of exciting opportunities offered by our Leeds University Union, including volunteering and over 300 clubs and societies to get involved in.

Find out more at the careers website.