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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 main insights provided by the economics discipline into climate change mitigation, adaptation, and management.
Course description This course examines the key issues of climate economics, and the tools that economists developed to interpret and address these issues.

It starts with an introductory overview of the rationale of economics, environmental economics, and ecological economics, with a brief mention of behavioural economics as well. It then delves into economics by introducing how markets work and how a well-functioning market mechanism can allocate resources efficiently.

The course then moves to environmental economics by considering market failures that have an effect on the environment. This includes the view of anthropogenic climate change as a global externality and the discussion of various policy instruments aimed at addressing this market failure and mitigating climate change (e.g., carbon taxation, cap & trade). This leads then to studying and comparing the tools used to make an economic evaluation of climate change┬┐prices from emission trading, emission abatement costs, social cost of carbon.

Then, the topic of uncertainty in economic knowledge is introduced, with the study of debates around the challenges of forecasting, uncertainty, risk, irreversibility, and discounting. This leads to the consideration of how some behavioural economics topics relate to the environment.

Finally, the course concludes by opening up discussions beyond mainstream economic thinking to explore alternative economic systems and perspectives, with particular attention to ecological economics ideas.

Some questions which will be considered in the course:
- How do we understand the interactions between economy, society, and the environment?
- What are the best economic policy measures for responding to climate change?
- What are the costs associated with climate change?
- How do we cope with uncertainty in our economic knowledge?
- How can our understandings of human behaviour encourage a more low-carbon behaviour and a more climate change-aware decision making in individuals, households, major companies, and states?
- What is the role of economic concepts and tools in addressing climate change? Can and/or should this role change, and how?
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
Not being delivered
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 organiserMs Alice Damiano
Course secretaryMrs Katherine Ingram
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