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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Business School : Common Courses (Management School)

Postgraduate Course: Carbon Accounting (CMSE11485)

Course Outline
SchoolBusiness School CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe course aims to provide students with an understanding of the range of measurement, calculation, reporting and auditing - in short, accounting - requirements and challenges related to climate change and the policy responses to climate change. Students will come away from the course with the skills to both implement and critique carbon accounting methods.
Course description The course provides an overview of the different forms of carbon accounting, and their different purposes, particularly their application to climate change finance. The conceptual distinction between 'attributional' and 'consequential' accounting methods will be used to analyse the nature and appropriate use of different methods.

The course develops both practical knowledge for implementing different carbon accounting methods, and analytical skills for critiquing current accounting and reporting practice. We will explore the relationship between carbon accounting and carbon/climate finance, and the different information needs of different types of investor (e.g. impact investors and climate risk-conscious investors).

The course complements the Carbon Pricing course, covering aspects of monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) for regulated entities within trading schemes. The course interfaces with the Climate Policy & Investment course, and the Climate Risk and Investment Alignment course, by exploring the estimation and allocation of carbon budgets consistent with a 1.5 or 2 degree global temperature change target. The course also complements the Mitigation Outcome Assessment option course by introducing methods for calculating changes in emissions, and the Climate Change & Capital Markets course by introducing portfolio carbon footprinting.

Outline Content

1. Overview of the different forms of carbon accounting and their different purposes
2. Life cycle assessment
3. Corporate-level carbon accounting
4. Portfolio carbon footprinting
5. Carbon auditing and validation
6. Carbon accounting at the national and community level
7. Carbon budgets and mitigation targets
8. Consequential carbon accounting
9. Ethical issues associated with carbon accounting
10. Climate-related risk and opportunity

Student Learning Experience

The course includes a number of guest speakers. This provides useful real-world insights alongside the more theoretical aspects of the course.
The course will be taught through weekly lectures and will generally include a case study, group exercise or other interactive discussion component.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Block 1 (Sem 1)
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 83 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 50% coursework (Individual) - Assesses course Learning Outcome 2
50% coursework (Individual) - Assesses course Learning Outcomes 1, 3, 4
Feedback Formative: Feedback will be provided throughout the course.

Summative: Feedback will be provided on assessments within agreed deadlines.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand and critically discuss the range of measurement, calculation, reporting and auditing requirements related to climate change finance.
  2. Apply methods at the forefront of carbon accounting practice.
  3. Critically evaluate the appropriate use of different methods for specific purposes.
  4. Understand and critically discuss ethical issues related to carbon accounting choices.
Reading List
Brander, M. (2016) 'Transposing lessons between different forms of consequential greenhouse gas accounting: lessons for consequential life cycle assessment, project-level accounting, and policy-level accounting', Journal of Cleaner Production. Elsevier Ltd, 112, pp. 4247-4256. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.05.101.

Brander, M., Gillenwater, M. and Ascui, F. (2018) 'Creative accounting: A critical perspective on the market-based method for reporting purchased electricity (scope 2) emissions', Energy Policy, 112. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2017.09.051.

ISO (2018) ISO 14064-1 - Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas. Geneva, Switzerland.

Searchinger, T. et al. (2008) 'Use of U.S. croplands for biofuels increases greenhouse gases through emissions from land-use change.', Science, 319(5867), pp. 1238-40. doi: 10.1126/science.1151861.

WBCSD/WRI (2004) Greenhouse Gas Protocol: A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. Geneva, Switzerland and Washington, DC, USA.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Cognitive Skills

After completing this course, students should be able to:

Be self-motivated; curious; show initiative; set, achieve and surpass goals; as well as demonstrating adaptability, capable of handling complexity and ambiguity, with a willingness to learn; as well as being able to demonstrate the use digital and other tools to carry out tasks effectively, productively, and with attention to quality.

Knowledge and Understanding

After completing this course, students should be able to:

Demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of contemporary organisational disciplines; comprehend the role of business within the contemporary world; and critically evaluate and synthesise primary and secondary research and sources of evidence in order to make, and present, well informed and transparent organisation-related decisions, which have a positive global impact.

Communication, ICT, and Numeracy Skills

After completing this course, students should be able to:

Convey meaning and message through a wide range of communication tools, including digital technology and social media; to understand how to use these tools to communicate in ways that sustain positive and responsible relationships.

Critically evaluate and present digital and other sources, research methods, data and information; discern their limitations, accuracy, validity, reliability and suitability; and apply responsibly in a wide variety of organisational contexts.

Practice: Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding

After completing this course, students should be able to:

Work with a variety of organisations, their stakeholders, and the communities
they serve - learning from them, and aiding them to achieve responsible, sustainable and enterprising solutions to complex problems.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Matthew Brander
Tel: (0131 6)51 5547
Course secretaryMiss Eilean Deane
Tel: (01316) 513758
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