BIOL20050 Climate Change and Agriculture

Academic Year 2021/2022

How are we going to feed 9 billion people in a warmer world? This module addresses the causes and consequences of climate change with regard to agriculture. Agriculture is an important contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, but it is also very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In Ireland about a third of the national greenhouse gas emissions are due to agriculture thus to reduce greenhouse gas emissions nationally innovative solutions to land use have to be found. In this module, you will learn to explain what climate change is and how it affects agriculture globally. Based on this understanding, you will be able to explore mitigation and adaptation options for agriculture with regard to climate change. For climate change mitigation in Ireland, Teagasc suggested five pathways to carbon neutrality. In this module, we are going to reflect on all of these greenhouse gas mitigation measures and what effects they may have both locally and globally. The module is meant to be one that allows you to develop your research techniques and the sourcing and critical evaluation of information about agriculture and climate change. We will discuss livestock management options, food choice, agricultural efficiency and bioenergy. What you learn in this module will sharpen your skills in building arguments and help people devise innovative ways of feeding 9 billion people in a warmer world - be it as a farmer, a scientist or an informed consumer.

Student feedback: This module is constantly being revised and improved every year based on student feedback. The module got very high marks for its structure and teaching. One of the students wrote in 2017: "The module is quite unique in its structure and well thought out" and in 2019 a student wrote that the tutorials were well structured, which confirmed that the new tutorial structure introduced in that year was successful. The new structure allows for scoping of continuous assessment before it has to be completed and peer feedback on it. If needed this tutorial structure can be maintained in an online environment.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Describe why and how current climate change is happening.
2. Describe how agriculture is contributing to climate change and how it can adapt to climate change.
3. Discuss the variety of options open to Irish agriculture for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from land use.
4. Work in a team to prepare arguments for innovative ways of implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation in agriculture.

Indicative Module Content:

BIOL20050: Climate Change and Agriculture - Syllabus 2019/20

1. Week: Introduction: what is modern climate change?
Lecture: 1. Introduction
2. Cause of current climate change

2. Week: Underlying paradigms for agricultural innovation
Lecture: 1. Impacts of climate change
2. Agricultural innovation paradigms

3. Week: Climate change impacts
Lecture. 1. Climate change adaptation
Tutorial 1: Scoping: misconceptions on climate change and Irish farming

4. Week: What causes current climate change?
Lecture 1. Linking radiation to temperature
2. Climate model

5. Week: Feedbacks in the climate system
Lecture. 1. Exponential growth
Tutorial 2: peer learning on misconceptions on climate change and Irish farming

6. Week: How do we address climate change through government?
Lecture. 1. Mitigation policy.
2. Climate mitigation action

7. Week: Why is there a sense of urgency to mitigate current climate change?
Lecture. 1. Options for reducing emissions in Irish livestock agriculture
Tutorial 3: Carbon navigator (Pat Murphy)

8. Week: Identifying options for climate change mitigation in Irish agriculture
Lecture 1. Carbon navigator
2: Carbon neutrality

9. Week: Market-based regulation to mitigate climate change
Lecture: 1. Greenhouse gas emissions along the food chain
Tutorial 4: peer learning- carbon navigator – scoping of pathways to carbon neutrality

10. Week: What happens to greenhouse gases when they enter the atmosphere?
Lecture: 1. The carbon cycle.
2: Afforestation in Ireland

11. Week: Learning to use resources efficiently along the food chain
Lecture: 1. Bioenergy in Ireland
Tutorial 5: peer learning on pathways to carbon neutrality. Vegetarianism debate

12. Week: Bringing it all together
Lecture: 1. Comparing pathways to carbon neutrality
2: Review of module content

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module is delivered through prescribed readings, discussions in tutorials and lectures. Students are expected to research 2 topics related to the module content and share their findings with their classmates. These topics are devised to encourage problem-based learning, as they are topics of current societal debate. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

Information skills (library usage, online search)
Basic sciences (chemistry, physics, geography)

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Global Environment (BIOL20010)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Reflection on tutorials (2 write-ups) Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Multiple Choice Questionnaire: MCQ exam 1 hour End of Trimester Exam n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Post-assessment individual submissions will be graded and feedback provided. There will also be sharing of assignment content with classmates through tutorials and through lectures. After each tutorial students will be asked to reflect on what they learned (self-assessment).

Name Role
Dr Tamara Hochstrasser Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Gary Lanigan Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Ms Ciara Brierley Tutor
Thomas Donahue Tutor
Ms Caroline Dowling Tutor
Amelie Heckmann Tutor
Mr Kilian Murphy Tutor
Nina Trubanová Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 11 Fri 13:00 - 13:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Thurs 13:00 - 13:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Tues 13:00 - 13:50