MSc in Climate Change – Technical Track

MSc in Climate Change - Technical Track

Why to study MSc in Climate Change – Technical Track

Analyse and think critically about climate change

The Master’s in Climate Change (MCC) is a two-year programme, featuring specialised newly developed courses across a range of climate change topics, supplemented by key courses already offered through PAU and PAUWES. The initial (semester 1) focus of the MCC is on the intersection between climate change – both mitigation and adaptation and development. Thereafter (semesters 2 and 3), students move into one of two tracks: a Policy track and a Technical track.

The Technical Track of the programme provides advanced training in the technical, scientific dimensions of climate change. It will provide students with knowledge and skills in specific climate-related sectors and fields: interpretation of climate data and science, application of ICTS, as well as supporting skillsets for communication, knowledge management and visualisation of complex datasets, scenarios, and models.

MCC Student profile

The technical track of the Master’s in Climate Change is open to candidates with a disciplinary background in any science field with proven course syllabi related to Climate Change. Candidates should have a license degree or equivalent, or a master’s degree from a renowned institution, and they will be selected by an international selection committee.

MCC Overview

Courses have been designed to complement and build on one another over the two-year period, with four semesters of 30 credits each. The programme thus totals 120 credits. The programme includes mandatory PAU courses as well as already operational PAUWES courses, in addition to the newly developed climate change focused courses.

Semester 1

Low Carbon Climate Resilient Development

This is a foundation course on which all other courses in the Master’s in Climate Change are built. It is applicable for both the policy and science streams.

The course presents an overview of the Anthropocene and introduces the concept of sustainable development. It then outlines the overarching climate policy landscape and presents the concept of low carbon climate resilient development and the three associated dimensions, viz., adaptation, mitigation and development. The course also provides an outline of needed systems transitions for low carbon development, focussing on the need for just transitions and the required social buy-in for interventions to be effective. Key areas of climate resilient transitions relevant to Africa are explored in more depth.

Essential overarching readings as part of the Master’s in Climate Change are provided at the end of the course outline and students are expected to familiarise themselves with at least two of these alongside the required readings.

Number of Credits 6

Climate Science for Policy And Practice

Evidence-based climate policy, plans, strategies, and actions need to be informed by climate science – here defined as the physical and biogeochemical functioning of the climate system and the ways that human and natural forces and feedbacks drive global and regional climate change, along with methods that measure and model the climate system.  This course will provide the student with the high-level understanding of climate science needed for involvement in international and regional climate negotiations, and for development and implementation of national and sub-national climate policy and strategy.

Number of Credits 6

Advanced Climate Science

Climate risk management – understanding climate risks and developing and implementing suitable response options – requires understanding of and information on the driving climate and meteorological hazards. This course will provide students with the scientific knowledge and technical skills to describe and quantify recent and projected changes and variability in climate, and their underlying mechanisms, at different scales across Africa, from continental to regional to national to local. The course builds on the course Climate Science for Policy and Practice by providing advanced knowledge of the mechanisms that control the regional climate conditions over Africa, the different sources of data and models that can be used to quantify past, current and future climate conditions, knowledge of and practical experience in the approaches and tools that can be used for analyzing these data, and a detailed understanding of key climate hazards that drive climate risk over the continent.

Number of Credits 6

African History

This course aims to provide students with a solid foundation on Africa’s historical experiences and realities. It surveys how African social and political institutions have developed over Africa’s greatly varied geography in the light of economic and environmental change over the last few millennia. Furthermore, it covers issues related to colonialism, nationalism, African states and the African identity. Finally, it equips students with a generic base of skills for the general study of history.

Number of Credits 4

Research Methods, Experimental Design and Data Analysis

This course offers practical training in methodologies relevant to the field of engineering. The course begins with an exploration of issues of general relevance to empirical investigation in sciences, research design, research ethics and an overview of research methods. The second part of the course offers students the opportunity to focus on qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Number of Credits 5

Transdisciplinarity for Climate Change

There is a pressing need to develop capacity in Africa to produce climate change research that can be used for decision-making to steer development pathways towards more climate compatible and resilient development. This requires new ways of knowledge development, learning and innovation, which are encompassed in transdisciplinary approaches. Wider competency in transdisciplinary thinking and skills will help contribute to solutions to complex climate change and sustainability challenges by building stronger linkages between research, policy and decision-making, and practice. Transdisciplinarity focusses on breaking down traditional disciplinary boundaries and the separation of science and society to solve complex and ‘wicked’ problems, such as those related to climate change and sustainable development, through working closely with multiple stakeholders in knowledge co-production processes.

This course introduces transdisciplinary thinking and research by providing the conceptual basis and understanding required for transdisciplinary work. A core focus is to develop the practical competencies and soft skills that are so critical for the successful application of this engaged and relational research approach. Transdisciplinary thinking builds capacity for problematising and researching climate change and development issues in Africa, as well as contributing to solutions to these problems alongside society. The course explores the shift to, the nature of, and the challenges related to employing transdisciplinary thinking and research to address climate change challenges at the nexus of science, policy and society. In essence, the goal of this course is for students to understand the complexities, interconnectedness, and uncertainties of the world we live in today and the new, more systemic, ways of thinking, researching, and working that acknowledge and accommodate this complexity. The course also supports the application of such an approach in the student's own research projects.

Number of Credits 1

Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship

Entrepreneurship is often regarded purely as business management, resulting in entrepreneurship education content that primarily focuses on developing business management skills. This approach limits the development of entrepreneurial potential in other sectors such as government and civil society and effectively excludes other disciplines from acquiring much needed 21st century skills. This course regards entrepreneurship as a transversal process and covers content that encourages students to be entrepreneurial – a combination of skills and mindset that unlock particular attitudes and behaviours. These include having a growth mindset (versus a fixed mindset), having a hunger for lifelong learning and applying critical thinking skills to problem solving. The course equips students with the knowledge of how to spot opportunities and generate ideas, learning in part from African cases.

The unprecedented rate of change and complexity in society requires entrepreneurial thinkers that are constantly learning, therefore, instilling a habit of lifelong learning is crucial. Critical thinking, one of the essential 21st century skills according to the World Economic Forum, promotes understanding and more effective discussions; it provides students with the ability to identify problems and equips them with the concepts and vocabulary to explain errors or poor logic. Critical thinking is therefore key to problem solving and one of the sources for effective idea generation. Business management generally relies heavily on information to make informed decisions, but in the quest to be intra- or entrepreneurial, information alone is not sufficient. The ability to spot opportunities and generate ideas from information to fulfil a need, is what makes entrepreneurial students more valuable. This course therefore aims to prepare students with problem solving skills (finding solutions to urgent challenges), critical thinking skills (thinking clearly, rationally and systematically), opportunity spotting skills (seeing the unseen and generating value from that) and idea generation skills.

All of the above requires practice and time to develop and so this course aims to ignite interest and perhaps unlock a hunger for becoming entrepreneurial. It also aims to start equipping students to be habitual critical thinkers, problem solvers, opportunity spotters and idea generators by teaching basic tools and techniques to achieve these objectives.

Number of Credits 2

Semester 2

Climate Change Mitigation (Technical Focus)

Climate change mitigation is a complex problem that requires cooperation between developed and developing countries, who have different shares of historical and current global GHG emissions. The course will enable the student to identify the sources of GHG emissions and evaluate how they can be reduced. It provides an understanding of the energy resource options, their benefits and limitations. It offers an overview of Integrated Assessment Models and their importance in the context of climate change mitigation as well as an understanding of the importance of Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) in a developing country context. It provides an understanding of the extraction and processing of “big data'' needed for GHG accounting and how to quantify GHG emissions removed or emitted as well as how to reduce these emissions. An evaluation of clean energy technologies and energy efficiency, as ways of reducing GHG emissions, is investigated. The concept of an energy transition is explored including transition fuels, carbon capture, sequestration and utilisation (CCSU) and infrastructure. The use and interpretation of long term energy models also forms an integral part of the course. The climate change mitigation course contributes to the provision of a new generation of leaders who are responsible and drive Pan African integration. This will ensure that African people are able to contribute meaningfully to international climate related scientific and policy discourse from an African perspective and will support diverse African experiences.

Number of Credits 6

Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction (Technical Focus)

The climate change projections of the IPCC, under even the most optimistic emissions reduction scenarios, indicate that climate change hazards will be experienced with increasing intensity and frequency, making the need to adapt a global urgency. However, given historical inequalities and unequal development trajectories, it is clear that there are countries or regions that will be affected more than others. Most at risk are the post-colonies of the Global South which are often characterized by high levels of poverty and inequality. Africa is facing a future of increased extremes in temperature, drought, flooding, and desertification. Given the rich resource-base (natural, social and cultural) of the continent, and a dynamic and young population, the continent is also potentially the site and source of the innovative thinking and action required to address climate change. The overarching aim of this course is to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify context specific risks and vulnerabilities to climate change and apply this understanding to support sustainable and equitable adaptation and disaster risk reduction interventions at the local level.

The course is structured according to the stages of an adaptation planning process, as it deals sequentially with the following stages: 1) understanding the hazards, risks and impacts; 2) understanding local vulnerabilities; 3) evaluating the existing and potential options for CCA & DRR; 4) assessing the existing or potential barriers and enablers to these options from national policy to the community level; 5) assessing the feasibility of the options; 6) selecting the appropriate options; and 7) planning for implementation. These stages will be covered by both the theoretical content of the course as well as through practical application of the concepts and tools that will also count toward assessment for the course.

Regarding the latter, the course will set certain parameters for choosing an appropriate site to develop a baseline vulnerability assessment to support a local adaptation plan and strategy, requiring the student to critically apply concepts and choose appropriate assessment methods. The parameters set for this hypothetical case-study will determine a site in Africa that is considered as being vulnerable, both from a social-economic perspective and to climate change. For example, students could select a site that is characterized by extreme changes in temperature that will likely lead to water scarcity, which in turn will affect the livelihoods of natural-resource dependent communities, with experiences differing amongst different social groups and primary livelihood activities. An example of instructions for such an assignment will be provided separately.

Number of Credits 6

Climate Services

The following topics will be covered:

  • General introduction to Climate Services meaning and formal frameworks
    1. A background to Climate Services
    2. The disparity in understandings of Climate Services
    3. The Global Framework for Climate Services
    4. Exploring each pillar of the Global Framework for Climate Services
  • Roles and responsibilities in Climate Services
    1. The (contested) concept of the value chain
    2. Climate Services implementation at a national and sub-national level
    3. Metrics for assessing National Climate Services
    4. The roles of Climate Services producers, intermediaries and users
    5. Gender sensitivity in climate services
  • Multiple lines of evidence
    1. Introduction to uncertainty in climate projections
    2. Drivers of uncertainty
    3. Distillation of a climate message
    4. Narratives and storylines
    5. Climate portals in practice
  • Co-production of Climate Services
    1. A background to co-production
    2. The co-production spectrum
    3. The building blocks of co-production
    4. Principles of co-production
    5. Facilitation techniques
    6. Ensuring inclusion in Climate Services: responding to different needs for information from various user groups
    7. Case studies of good practice
  • Communication and behaviour change
    1. Influences on climate-adaptive behaviour (individual and social influences)
    2. The theory and practice of social marketing within the context of Climate Services
    3. Ensuring inclusion in Climate Services: responding to different communication preferences
  • Ethics of Climate Services
    1. Worldviews and values in climate services
    2. Relationships of power in co-production
    3. Climate Services codes of ethics
  • New and emerging issues

Number of Credits 6

Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems

Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems

The course aims to familiarize students with satellite images, provide basic principles of data acquisition systems, introduce different GIS and RS software, as well as explain concepts of bands and channels, colour composition and features identification from imagery. Students gain a working knowledge of the principles and applications of remote sensing and are given a survey of the concepts and techniques of Remote Sensing and GIS. The course imparts an understanding of how the various multi-source data are structured in GIS software and knowledge of potential analyses that can be conducted in various situations to produce useful information that supports decision making in planning, monitoring and management of resources (water, forests, soil, lands) and infrastructures (e.g., drinking water systems, a network of roads). The laboratory provides hands-on experience (through case studies), including a lab practical on interpretation and analysis of digital images, generating digital elevation models, topographic calculations (slope, aspect, curvature), modelling (visibility, hydrology modelling), and other aspects of RS and GIS.

Number of Credits 4

Modelling, Simulation and Impact Analysis

Energy policy design and assessment is a complex, dynamic task. This course introduces students to the use of system dynamics modelling and simulation for energy policy analysis and scenario-based impact analysis.  The course emphasises modelling causality in energy systems and formulating and building system dynamics stock-and-flow and simulation models. Utilising the validated simulation models, this course enables learners to perform integrated socio-economic and environmental impact analyses of energy policies.

Number of Credits 4

Career Internship Seminar

This is an action-based, practical course. Therefore:

  • the contact hours are focused on facilitating the student’s actions towards securing an internship opportunity (not lecturing);
  • the student readings and resources are practical, internet-based, drawing from reputable work placement agencies; Readings and assignments are done asynchronously – students need to be prepared before the class starts.

Number of Credits 1

Project Design and Management

Project Design and Management

This course cultivates skills and expertise in designing, planning and controlling projects. It examines the project management life cycle, defining project parameters, management challenges, project management tools and techniques, and emphasizes the project manager’s role.

The course will guide students through the fundamental tools of project management and skills necessary to devise, launch, lead, and implement successful projects in profit and non-profit organizations. Successful project managers possess the skills necessary to manage their teams, schedules, risks, and resources to produce desired outcomes. Students explore project management with a practical and pragmatic approach through project implementation, case studies and class exercises.

Number of Credits 2

Academic Writing and Presentation

This course provides learners with principles, techniques, guidelines and suggestions to improve their skills in academic written communication. Consequently, it is designed to cover techniques that can be applied to different types of academic writing including essays, dissertations, reviews, grant proposals, research papers as well as thesis writing. The course provides tools to students to create in-text references and corresponding citations. The course also teaches appropriate language and common usage of tenses for different types of academic writing.

Number of Credits 1

Semester 3

Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (Technical Focus)

Agriculture is central to food security, either as a source of food and/or as an income generating and livelihood opportunity. Climate change is having significant impacts on agricultural systems (cropping, livestock and aquaculture), thereby posing a serious threat to regional, national and household food security. Agriculture, in turn, also serves as a substantial source of greenhouse gas emissions exacerbating global warming and climate change. The interactions between climate change, various types of agricultural systems and food security are complex and context specific calling for tailored responses across countries, agricultural sectors, and types of farming systems (e.g., smallholder versus commercial, intensive versus extensive). This module provides an overview of the complexities at the nexus of food production, security, and climate change, while articulating the synergies between adaptation and mitigation for promoting more resilient agriculture and, consequently, improved regional, national and household food security. A variety of responses (actions, options, and opportunities) aimed at reducing net GHG emissions in the agricultural sector and/or the risks of climate change on production are presented and interrogated in terms of their applicability in different contexts and sectors. In doing this, the module recognises the need to integrate indigenous/traditional knowledge and practices with modern science and technology The module will also explore what is needed to create the enabling environment to support the implementation of appropriate mitigation and adaptation responses.

The case studies and individual and/or group assignments built into the module will provide an opportunity for the students to undertake a piece of original, analytical work in a topic related to climate change, agriculture and food security. It may be designed to address a specific issue in these relevant areas and/or in the student’s country.

Number of Credits 4

Climate Change and Urban Systems (Including Transportation)

This course will familiarise students with climate change and development challenges and opportunities presented by urbanization in Africa and equip them to provide advice on urban development decisions, with a focus on urban transportation. Students will systematically work through how climate impacts, adaptation and mitigation, as well as broader agendas of systemic change (in which climate change is seen as one of many drivers of change) intersect with the key dimensions of urban development, placing particular attention on transport and mobility.

The topics of the module will be grounded in two case studies focussing on urban climate adaptation / climate resilient development and urban climate mitigation / low carbon development. These cases may change on an annual basis, depending on the teaching staff and guest lecturers. One case will focus on adaptation and mitigation options in the urban transportation sector, highlighting questions of synergies and trade-offs. The other case study will unpack the process of developing an integrated, multi-sectoral climate change strategy and action planning at the city scale. Based on available literature the two cases could be the cities of Accra, Bobo Dioulasso, Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Kampala or Saint Louis.

Number of Credits 6

Sanitation and Health

The purpose of this course is to give students in-depth knowledge of water and sanitation infrastructures, water access problems and risks associated with water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Number of Credits 4

Water-Energy Nexus and Climate Change

The course equips students with knowledge of the interactions, synergies and trade-offs between the water-energy nexus and climate change. The course sets a foundation by explaining the water-energy nexus and how it relates to climate change. A brief exploration of the underlying mechanisms of the water-energy nexus and physical science basis of climate change is followed by a step-by-step and detailed description of how climate change is projected to affect water resources and energy systems and the potential consequences for the water-energy nexus, food and energy security and, in turn, sustainable development.


challenges within the water-energy nexus in the context of a changing climate. The students apply their knowledge and skills to analyse the impact of climate change on the water-energy nexus in a specific case study.

Number of Credits 4

Climate Change and Climate Modelling

Water resources management in the 21st century is challenged by the impact of climate change on the hydrological cycle. Although climate change is a global phenomenon, regional projections make climate modelling more precise and results more meaningful for water management. Surface air temperature and precipitation are the primary elements of the hydrological cycle for regional climate projections; changes in either of these are often considered a primary signal of climate change.

The central objective of this course is to equip students with knowledge of the science of global warming and the forecast for human impact on Earth’s climate. The module aspires to achieve the following learning outcomes: (i) knowledge of tools used to study the global climate in the past, present and future; (ii) insight into climate change science and the numerical tools that support it; (iii) ability to assess the impact of climate change on a regional level in the short, medium and long term.

This course imparts knowledge and skills to graduate students for a career in environmental management or to prepare students who may wish to pursue a degree at the PhD level.

Number of Credits 4

Climate Science Thesis Proposal Seminar 65

This is a practical course that is structured to follow on from the learning outcomes of CEWE1, CEWE2 and C3, using the knowledge gained in those courses to write up and present a research proposal, and produce a final research proposal.

Number of Credits 1

Human Rights and Gender

The course aims to provide students with knowledge of the relationship between gender and human rights both within the African and international systems. It explores origins, development and challenges of integrating gender into human rights law discourse and practice. Focusing on international protection of women’s human rights as an example, the course introduces students to relevant international bodies and instruments.

Number of Credits 2

Ethics, Leadership and Accountability

The course considers ethics, leadership, leadership dilemmas and accountability issues that can arise when an individual’s values conflict with those of an organisation, or when a situation requires decisions with competing or conflicting values. The focus is on ethical issues that leaders have to deal with including ethical dilemmas in decision making. Effective leadership in Africa, and the subsequent emergence of Africa, depends on ethical leadership and accountability. Many African countries face challenges arising from accountability problems that have led to bad governance. The course examines leadership principles, theories and styles. Within this course, students use case studies, their own experiences and current events to examine actions leaders have taken and consequences they have faced. Students work on real-life issues of transparency and accountability, examine underlying reasoning of the problems, identify and analyse ethical dilemmas, and develop action plans for solving and preventing similar problems at the organisational and societal levels.

Number of Credits 1

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Internships are an integral part of the degree that students earn at PAUWES.

The PAUWES internship programme is an important vehicle to advance student skills and professionalism toward achieving their desired future career.

It consists of two internships:

  • Summer (also called career) Internship
  • Students do it during their summer break (at the end of the first-year master), during the Summer Internship students can test and apply the skills they acquired during their studies in a real-life situation and tailor these to the specific field they have chosen. This experience will help them to narrow down their job preferences and define their professional profile. We strongly encourage students to reach companies and do their summer internship
  • The Research Internship (also called data collection Internship)
  • Students do it at the beginning of their Master Thesis (MT) in the fourth semester. The Research Internship will allow students to collect data on-site for their MT (find case studies, conduct interviews, take measurements or perform experiments, etc.). It provides students with the opportunity to get to know their research subject personally or allows them to work directly with their supervisor at his/her workplace. PAUWES internship program provides various channels for support.

Career Prospects of PAUWES Graduates

PAUWES curricula aims to equip future graduates with knowledge, skills and attitudes that allow them to be competitive in both the employment market and in academia if they choose to pursue doctoral studies. Owing to their methodical approach and their governments’ clear vision and policy, developed countries have a strong demand for graduates with profiles similar to the ones produced by PAUWES. The job market for such profiles has long been limited in Africa. However, there is an increasing number of employment opportunities as a consequence of the boom in start-up companies and foreign direct investments witnessed in the past decade across Africa.

Some examples of positions that can be filled by PAUWES graduates in energy, water and policy.

Climate Change Technical Track:

  • Research and Academia: expanding the knowledge field through new research, including transdisciplinary research;
  • Evidence based strategic planning;
  • Skilled technical expertise in specific areas or sectors.

Climate Change Policy Track:

  • Research and Academia: expanding the knowledge field through new research, including transdisciplinary research;
  • Policy development, strategic planning;
  • Policy implementation and monitoring and evaluation of policy implementation;
  • Skilled technical expertise in specific areas or sectors.

Contact Info

Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences - PAUWES

c/o Tlemcen University, B.P. 119 | Pôle Chetouane, Tlemcen 13000



M: +213 43 41 04 35

F: +213 43 41 04 99

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African Union Agenda 2063

A strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development. These include STISA 2024, the Lagos Plan of Action