UCL Summer School


Economics for Sustainability: Climate Change and Social Inequalities

Key Information

Module code
Taught during
Session Two
Module leader
Dr Serban Scrieciu
None. Standard UCL Summer entry criteria apply.
Assessment method
Essay (65%),Presentation (35%)
Download syllabus (PDF)

Module overview

The module takes students on a journey of discovery of the logic, values, uncertainties and thinking behind the debate on climate change action, economic wellbeing and inequalities. It sits between theory and practice. Theoretically, the module departs from conventional methods of economics teaching that typically focus only on a narrow range of orthodox or mainstream economic theories that are generally underpinned by the methodological monism of mathematical formalism. Instead, it embarks on a tour-de-force of diverse, contradicting, and rich social-economic perspectives. Practically, the module discusses main climate-related policy and societal concerns, perceptions and facts, including issues of just transitions or climate justice. Moreover, in order to spur student creativity, understanding and imagination, the module brings novel elements, in that it connects economic thinking with the world of arts and culture.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Explain the nature and properties of sustainability problems, with an onus on climate change, and how economic reasoning could be applied to the climate problem.
  • Recognise the causes and list possible consequences of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and rising social inequalities.
  • Recognise a wider range of economic perspectives in economic behaviour and dynamics, and in relation to the diverse and often conflicting measures and policies that they put forward.
  • Think more holistically in terms of interdependencies between the economy, society and the environment, when shaping solutions for socially-just and climate-smart futures.
  • Be more open to readily link science with arts, and more likely to accept the role that esthetical and ethical value judgements play in influencing innovation and societal developments.

Module prerequisites

This is a level one module (equivalent to first year undergraduate). No prior subject knowledge is required to study this module but students are expected to have a keen interest in the subject area.

Module hours

Classes (usually three or four hours per day) take place on the Bloomsbury campus from Monday to Friday any time between 9am and 6pm.


  • 2,000-2,500 word Essay (65%)
  • 10 minute individual presentation (35%)

Module leader

Dr Serban Scrieciu is currently a senior research fellow with the Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering at UCL’s Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. His research explores the extent to which core concepts and principles from systems thinking and complexity economics could inform a richer understanding of sustainability issues applied to the built environment and how it can better leverage transformational change in this respect. Serban’s background is in the economics of sustainability, particularly on the economics of climate change mitigation action. Previous to joining UCL, he worked not only in academia (University of Cambridge, University of Greenwich and The University of Manchester in UK), but also in the international policy environment (European Commission in Brussels and United Nations Environment Programme in Paris). Serban is natively from Romania, with an MA degree from the University of Sussex and a PhD from The University of Manchester. When time permits, he enjoys photography, travelling and discovering places and cultures.

Application information

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