DSCY10060 Energy, Climate Change & Policy

Academic Year 2023/2024

Climate Change will be one of the defining challenges facing the world over the course of the 21st century. The effects of climate change are already being felt and such effects are expected to grow. The transition to zero carbon energy is now underway and must be accelerated. This global challenge is explored in this module. The focus is upon the key scientific, engineering and economic aspects that underpin the challenge at hand, which are also central to the policy solutions required to address it.

This module introduces students from a wide variety of backgrounds to the fundamental drivers of energy demand; it elucidates the connection between energy supply and climate impacts; and it outlines the major policy responses at a global and regional level. It captures at an introductory level the scientific, engineering and economic aspects of the energy challenge which the world faces and provides an excellent foundation for students who wish to pursue further study in the broad area of energy.

The module will explore the consequences of fossil fuel consumption for the Earth’s carbon cycle, the composition of its atmosphere and resulting climate change. The strengths and weaknesses of alternative energy sources such as wind, wave, solar, nuclear and geothermal are covered, including the likely impact of future climate change on some of these resources. All of these topics are the focus of major research initiatives in UCD and this module will include aspects of the ongoing research enabling students to gain an appreciation of the latest developments and advances in the area.

Energy economic analysis is applied in the module to energy and climate change policy and covers subjects such as energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, the design of policy measures. The energy sector plays a crucial role in the global economy; it is also one in transition from a fossil fuel-based system to one with a rising share of renewable energy, as climate change mitigation strategies influence energy decision-making more strongly. The interface between scientific and engineering challenges and policy formation will be explored in detail. The energy systems into which low carbon energy resources are integrated will be described, including the key technical, economic, and societal challenges in the development of a fully decarbonized energy system.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

The module will provide students with a global view of the major anthropogenic effects that arise from fossil fuel combustion and the main options to deal with this challenge. The module will provide students with a sound knowledge of realistic choices surrounding energy provision and use, climate change and the role of policy instruments so that they are in a better position to make rational judgements about these issues.

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
• - Demonstrate an understanding of the principal factors driving global demand for primary energy.
• - Demonstrate an understanding of Critically analyse the link between fossil fuel combustion, and atmospheric CO2 concentration.
• Identify and formulate responses to key issues in energy economics and policy.
• Explain the key economic principles used to analyse energy and climate change policies and issues.
• Understand the key integration challenges in the drive towards a decarbonized energy system.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Small Group


Field Trip/External Visits


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Teaching and Learning is approached from a number of aspects in this module. It is a combination of lectures and fieldwork including student reflection.

Group projects form an integral part of the module with topics provided reflecting the complexity of challenges associated with the Energy Transition and Climate Change. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Multiple Choice Questionnaire: Online Multiple choice quiz at the end of the four module sections. Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Fieldwork: Fieldwork on campus related to campus sustainability planning and developments. Students will be assigned to groups. Progress will be tracked via journals(written/audio/video/photo) as agreed in class Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Presentation: In class presentation of group project fieldwork and assigned project topic Week 12 n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 1 Hour
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
• Peer review activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Name Role
Professor Frank McDermott Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Lisa Ryan Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr William Smith Lecturer / Co-Lecturer