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Climate Change: The Science

University of Exeter via FutureLearn


Gain an introduction to climate science

If you’re taking part in the Global Citizen Get Climate Smart challenge, complete this course to earn points and receive fun rewards. Scroll down to learn more.

Climate change is one of humanity’s greatest threats. If we want to protect our planet from dangerous and unprecedented change, we must first understand the science behind climate change.

On this four-week course, you’ll explore this science, looking back across 4 billion years of Earth’s history to help you learn the difference between natural and human-induced change.

You’ll understand climate as a system before exploring how climate change is already being felt. Finally, you’ll look to the future to see what it might hold for our planet.

Explore the evidence for climate change

As you delve into the natural variations in the Earth’s climate, you’ll take a deep dive into the evidence that signals climate change. Within this, you’ll examine key predictable and unpredictable determinants of climate change.

Understand the impacts of climate change on the cryosphere, ocean, and planet

You’ll take a focused look at the cryosphere – the frozen part of the Earth’s system – to understand how it responds to climate change and what impact this might have on the planet.

Next, you’ll discover the consequences of increased carbon dioxide emissions on the chemistry of our oceans.

We’re proud to be partnering with Global Citizen, an action platform dedicated to defending the planet. Together, we hope to educate the world about climate change, offering actionable steps you can take to ensure a green and sustainable future. Join our Get Climate Smart challenge and complete this course to earn points with Global Citizen and receive fun rewards! Ready for a challenge?

This course is designed for anyone with a keen interest in science, nature, the environment, and/or sustainability.

You don’t need any prior knowledge of climate change or climate science to benefit from this course.


  • Introduction to Climate Science
    • Welcome!
    • What is climate?
    • The climate system, feedbacks and self-regulation
    • Summary and Reflect
  • Evidence for Climate Change
    • Ancient past climate change
    • Recent past climate change
    • Signs of Climate Change
    • Test and Reflect
  • Impacts of Climate Change
    • Impacts on the Cryosphere
    • Impacts on the oceans
    • Summary
  • Looking ahead...
    • Modelling future climates
    • Welcome to the Anthropocene!
    • Course round-up

Taught by

Tim Lenton


4.8 rating at FutureLearn based on 270 ratings

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