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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Carbon Economics (online) (PGGE11219)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course is an introduction to carbon economics for non-economists. The primary aim is to provide students with a well-grounded understanding of the important insights provided by economic analysis into climate change mitigation, adaptation and management.
Course description This course examines the key issues of climate economics, and the tools that economists use to enhance understanding of these issues. It starts with an introductory overview of markets, considering how a well - functioning market mechanism can allocate resources efficiently. It considers the economic cost of climate change, as well as the cost of abatement and associated methods of measurement. It then turns to a consideration of market failures, viewing anthropogenic climate change as a global externality, and the pros and cons of various policy instruments (e.g. carbon taxation and cap & trade) aimed at addressing this market failure and mitigating climate change. Debates around uncertainty in economic knowledge and the challenges of forecasting, uncertainty, irreversability and discounting are studied. It will also explore new research which draws upon behavioural economics to explore changes to individual choices with regards to low carbon and sustainability. The course concludes by opening up discussions beyond mainstream economic thinking to explore alternative economic systems and perspectives towards sustainable development.

Some questions which will be considered in the course:

- What are the costs of climate change, and the costs of responding to climate change?
- What are the right economic policy measures for responding to climate change?
- How do we cope with uncertainty in our economic knowledge?
- How do we understand the interactions between economy, society, and the environment?
- How do we change the behaviour of individuals, households, major companies, and states to become more low-carbon and climate change aware?
- Do we over-consume and, if so, why? How can we create more sustainable economies?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is only available to students studying the online Certificate in Carbon Innovation or the online MSc in Carbon Management. Students are not permitted to audit this course unless formally agreed with the course organiser.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Online Activities 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 100%

Policy Brief (40%) - due Monday, week 6
Essay (60%) - due Monday, week 12
Feedback Formative feedback: There will be three types of formative feedback. (a) half-way through the course, each student will be invited to a meeting with the CO to discuss their comprehension of the course materials and concepts. If there are issues arising from these meetings, the CO will modify the course content in the 2nd half of the course and may arrange to rehearse some topics if they have not been understood first time around. (b) Formative feedback will be provided on the topics and outline of the Policy Brief (assignment one). (c) Formative feedback will be provided on outlines of the Essay in time for the feedback to be useful in preparing the final document. Summative feedback will be provided on both the Policy Brief and the Essay. The in-class exercises using Top Hat will provide students (and the CO) with immediate feedback on performance and understanding.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Distinguish between and critically evaluate the main economic concepts and theories relevant to carbon management and climate change policy making.
  2. Understand and critically debate choice of particular values of key variables and methodological approaches to performing economic analyses of climate change mitigation.
  3. Debate the pros and cons of a range of policy instruments at various scales, such as taxes and tradable permits and international environmental agreements, from an economics perspective.
  4. Synthesise the key economic issues of carbon management and communicate with non-economist stakeholders.
Learning Resources
Stern, N. (2006). Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change. Executive Summary. Available at:

IPCC (2007). Chapter 2: Framing Issues. In: Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Available at:

Helm, D. (2008). Climate-change policy: Why has so little been achieved? Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 24(2), 211-238. doi:10.1093/oxrep/grn01. Available at:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The course deepens and develops analytical skills and skills of synthesis and communication.
KeywordsCarbon Economics,Cap & Trade,Carbon Tax,Game Theory,Market Failure,Resource Efficiency,Global
Course organiserDr Frances Warren
Course secretaryMs Heather Penman
Tel: (0131 6)50
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