BIOL20050 Climate Change and Agriculture

Academic Year 2022/2023

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.

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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:

Indicative syllabus
The module addresses both Climate change and Agriculture, they will be addressed in parallel in the module.

Climate change:
What is climate change?
Impacts of climate change
Climate change adaptation
Future climate scenarios
Mitigation potential across sectors
Policy options for climate change mitigation
Types of greenhouse gases
Radiation and temperature
Greenhouse gas effect
The carbon cycle
Feedbacks in the climate system
Carbon sequestration in soils and forests

Overview over Irish agriculture and land use policy
Crop cycle/ livestock production cycle and dependence on weather thereof
What are the vulnerabilities of a farm to extreme weather
Climate change adaptation on farms
Input and outputs from a farm
Lifecycle assessment
What produces greenhouse gases on a farm
How can we reduce GHG emissions on a farm
Food choice
Carbon offsetting
Anaerobic digestion
Taking climate action

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Class sessions (currently marked as 'Lectures' in the timetable) will be hybrid tutorial sessions, where students actively debate topics related to module content with their peers and share their knowledge. These topics are devised to encourage problem-based learning, as they are topics of current societal debate. The discussions are supported by short videos provided by the lecturer and readings throughout the semester. Key learning outcomes will be highlighted, so that students can measure their progress in learning throughout the trimester. Students are also expected to support their learning by completing assigned readings throughout the semester. 
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: Essay related to active learning in module Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Journal: After each tutorial the student is required to submit a small reflection on what was learned during class. Each submission will be graded as pass/fail. The grade for this component reflects the % pass Throughout the Trimester n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Examination: MCQ exam 1 hour End of Trimester Exam No 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 Graham 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