LSE100A      Half Unit
The LSE Course: How can we avert climate catastrophe?

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Christopher Blunt KSW.4.12 and Dr Jillian Terry KSW.4.11


The course will be compulsory for all first year undergraduate students.

Course content

LSE100 is LSE’s flagship interdisciplinary course taken by all first-year undergraduate students as part of your degree programme. The course is designed to build your capacity to tackle multidimensional problems through research-rich education, giving you the opportunity to explore transformative global challenges in collaboration with peers from other departments and leading academics from across the School. Before registering at LSE, you will have the opportunity to select one of three themes to focus on during LSE100, each of which foregrounds a complex and pressing question facing social scientists. In 2022/23, the available themes are:  

  • How can we avert climate catastrophe?
  • How can we control AI?
  • How can we create a fair society? 

In the ‘How can we avert climate catastrophe?’ theme, you will investigate how social scientific research can inform our responses to climate change. The alarm bells are sounding and time is running short to reach the international community’s aim of limiting global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, biodiversity loss, and our continued reliance on fossil fuels serve as urgent calls to action, but how can we harness the insights of social science and respond?

This module explores questions of agency, responsibility, and solidarity to better understand the complex social, political and economic systems that combine to threaten the future of our environment. What are the planetary limits of economic growth? Will a circular approach transform our economies for the better, or will it put too much power in the hands of the market? How do systems of waste and consumption reinforce colonial narratives and widen global inequalities?

Throughout LSE100, you will investigate the ways in which systems are being transformed by a changing climate as you consider how we might tackle the challenges that lie ahead. You will learn to use the tools and frameworks of systems thinking in order to analyse the impacts of environmental degradation, broaden your intellectual experience, and deepen your understanding of your own discipline as you test theories, evidence and ideas from different disciplinary perspectives.


7 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the MT. 7 hours and 30 minutes of seminars in the LT.

90-minute seminars take place in alternate weeks. Students will attend an LSE100 seminar in either weeks 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 or weeks 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 of Michaelmas term, and weeks 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 or weeks 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 of Lent term.

MT: Seminar – 5 x 90min

LT: Seminar – 5 x 90min

In addition to seminars students will engage with bespoke video lectures featuring academics from across the School (approx. 20 minutes per seminar).

Formative coursework

In seminars throughout both terms, students will practice:

  1. analysing quantitative and qualitative data
  2. using systems thinking and systems change tools
  3. constructing and communicating evidence-based academic arguments

Teachers will provide feedback during seminars and in post-seminar communications to groups and individuals.

During the Lent Term, students will also have the opportunity to try out the tools of systems thinking and systems change that they will use in their digital reports and presentations.

Indicative reading

The following readings are indicative of the texts students will be assigned. The total amount of reading assigned for each seminar will be a maximum of 20 pages.

  • Jason Hickel (2021) Less is More: how degrowth will save the world (London: Penguin Random House)
  • Elinor Ostrom (2008). ‘Tragedy of the commons', in Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume (eds.) The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd edition.
  • Kate Ervine (2012). ‘The politics and practice of carbon offsetting: Silencing dissent', New Political Science, 34(1), pp.1-20.
  • Camila Moreno, Daniel Speich Chasse & Lili Fuhr (2016). Carbon Metrics: global abstractions and ecological epistemicide (Heinrich Boll Stiftung: Publication Series Ecology, Vol.42).
  • Jessie Kindig (ed.) (2022). Property Will Cost Us the Earth: Direct Action and the Future of the Global Climate Movement. (London: Verso)
  • Naomi Klein (2014). This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, (London: Allen Lane)
  • Murray, A., Skene, K. & Haynes, K. (2017). ‘The Circular Economy: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Concept and Application in a Global Context’. J Bus Ethics, 140, 369–380.
  • Walter R. Stahel (2016). ‘The circular economy’. Nature 531, 435–438.
  • Oran R. Young (2017). ‘The age of complexity’ in Governing Complex Systems: Social Capital for the Anthropocene (MIT Press)


Coursework (50%, 1500 words) in the MT.
Project (50%) in the LT.

Summative assessment will include an individual written assessment in the Michaelmas Term (50%) and a collaborative research project in the Lent Term (50%).

Key facts

Department: LSE

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills