PP417L      Half Unit
The Practice of Effective Climate Policy

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Mr Nicholas Rowley CBG.5.27


This course is available on the Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Columbia), Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-Sciences Po), Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-University of Toronto), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Preference will be given to students in the School of Public Policy. Students from other LSE departments and schools can seek permission to be accepted on the course.

Course content

This course will introduce students to the climate problem and the ways in which policy might be effectively used to address it. Having established a shared knowledge of basic climate science and what we know about the historical relationship between human activity and the concentration of carbon and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it will examine questions such as:

  • how might we think and consider the problem?
  • why we disagree?
  • the necessary tension between science and politics, and
  • what the policy approaches are that will have a measurable impact on the stock and supply of harmful emissions.

Ways to incentivise and achieve emissions reduction, adaptation and sequestration of greenhouse and gases will also be presented and considered.

The course will be structured around topics which are both relevant to political and policy deliberation and being researched in the academic world. The emphasis will be on revealing how a deep and broad understanding of climate politics and policy can - whether working in government, the private sector or advocacy - give students the tools and ability to make a difference. Forming half of their assessed work, and using the foundational content shared in class, students will be encouraged to concentrate on a climate policy challenge / approach which they find particularly interesting or important.

Through reference to academic literature and analysis classes 1 to 8 will allow students to develop a broad foundational understanding. Based on what has been learnt in the earlier sessions, the final two classes will allow students to engage in a sophisticated and informed analysis of climate policy practice.


20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of workshops in the LT.

Teaching will involve ten two-hour 'Harvard style' combined lectures / seminars, together with an additional one hour intensive policy workshop.

The first introductory class will establish the purpose / rationale for the course, describe the course content and ‘flow’ (when students will be expected to do most of their reading, research, presentations, and writing). The expectations the course educator has for all students will be made clear and formative and summative assessments will be explained.

The course educator will introduce himself and his standing on the subject and students will be given the opportunity to introduce themselves to each other. Students will be allocated into groups of five and be given the opportunity to prioritise which classes they would like to take a lead on through their involvement in role play, presentations and interrogating particular aspects of the week's topic.

The following seven lectures will share the week’s topic / content, educator perspective and reflection on the topic of the week. Coming at a time when students should be focussed on their major essay, the final two classes will not require any additional reading: week nine will be the presentation of a case study involving the lecturer when he was working on climate policy for the British government. The final class will involve three policy practitioners who have worked, or are working on, climate policy.

They will present on three questions for 10 minutes each, allowing plenty of time for students to question the three policy practitioners and debate insights that they will be able to interrogate from their learning.

Formative coursework

  • Group presentation plan
  • Short (2,000 word) essay
  • One page (500 word) policy memo

Group presentation plan

Students will be required to share a plan of how their group will lead on the second half of a defined class ensuring maximum teaching effectiveness and wider class involvement and engagement. Students will be supported by the course educator in this task through the provision of material on effective presentation and how to develop compelling scenarios and case studies based on course content.

Short mandatory (2,000 word) essay (required to be submitted prior to reading week)

Students will be required to write in response to the question “Through reference to the course content can you explain the reasons for either the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of an identified climate policy of interest to you.” This must be submitted by reading week enabling the provision of swift, useful feedback. Assessing student ability in this way will allow the lecturer to understand each student’s academic ability early and support them to excel as they focus on their extended essay.

One page mandatory (500 word) policy memo

Following reading week students will be required to present a mandatory one page, 500-word policy memo presenting the issue, background, thesis / approach and likely conclusion of the 3,000-word essay that will constitute 60% of their grade.

Being required a week after reading week will allow students to consider the policy they wish to interrogate during the break and present an outline which will allow the course educator to provide clear and useful guidance and support prior to students embarking on their extended essay.

Students will be given guidance on how to write a clear and effective policy memo / brief which sets out how they are intending to tackle their summative 3,000-word essay.

Indicative reading

  • Global warming – the Complete Briefing by Sir John Houghton
  • The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change – A Guide to the Debate by Andrew Dessler and Edward Parson
  • Why We Disagree About Climate Change – Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity by Mike Hulme
  • Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes
  • Governing the Commons by Elinor Ostrom
  • The Economics of Climate Change – The Stern Review by Nicholas Stern


Presentation (40%) and essay (60%, 3000 words) in the LT.

40% Class presentations and involvement (in classes 2-8 through the term)

30% of the mark will be allocated to the group. 10% will be for individual work and contribution.

In the first introductory class each student will be allocated to a group (mixed on the basis of ethnicity, gender, background etc.). After each class has been broadly described and presented, an active prioritisation exercise will establish which group will take responsibility for the second half of which class.

All students will be allocated the roles and tasks they must complete in the second half of a defined class. These will involve a mix of role play scenarios and presentations on class content designed to stimulate wider class discussion and deliberation.

In developing their approach students will be asked to produce a plan for how the group is going to lead the second half of the class. This formative one-page outline will allow the course educator to provide guidance on how each group might best structure their contribution to the second half of the class. The course educator will share material and examples of effective presentation and role play exercises that each group will be supported to lead on.

Each week the intensive policy workshop will allow students to work together and receive support and input prior to their assessed presentation / involvement in class.

60% An extended (3,000-word) essay (required to be submitted two weeks after the final class).

This extended essay will allow students to specialise on an aspect of the climate problem which they are both particularly interested in, and think is amenable to consideration through applying the content of the course.

Students will be expected to either develop a compelling thesis which explains the effectiveness or otherwise of a defined climate policy or argue for a new policy approach to reducing climate risk in a defined context. Both approaches will need to be grounded in well researched evidence and data informing effective arguments in support of a compelling thesis.

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 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
  • Commercial awareness