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Climate Resilience and Adaptation for Rural Roads

Find out how planners and road designers can manage the effect of climate change and extreme weather on rural roads.

1,105 enrolled on this course

A narrow rural road in Vietnam with mud caked surface and puddles. A single motorbike with a sack tied to the back leaves a tyre track
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Discover how rural roads can become more resilient to changing weather patterns

We already know that climate change is having a significant impact on temperature, rainfall and wind speed.

Planners, designers and managers of rural road infrastructures must keep up-to-date with the nature of these changes. This includes understanding the likelihood of occurrence, as well as the implications on the financing, design, and maintenance of these roads in the future.

On this course, you’ll explore these factors and consider how new and existing infrastructure can be planned, designed, upgraded, maintained and adapted to become more climate-resilient.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds Climate change is set to cause major changes across the world. Sea levels will rise. Weather patterns will change and become more extreme. This will increase the likelihood of not only flooding, soil erosion and landslides, but also in some cases the frequency and duration of droughts and higher ambient temperatures on some roads. The UN has warned that in order to limit adverse impacts. The world needs to reduce global warming to below 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. But scientists say that keeping to the 1.5 degrees C target will require rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds Our challenge is to mitigate the risk of climate change on the rural road network by adapting how we design and maintain roads. We need to amend our specifications and design criteria to take account of predicted changes in the environment over the design lives of our infrastructure. My name is Dr. David Hughes. I’m a highway engineer with almost 40 years experience working as a research academic and a consulting engineer on pavement design and rehabilitation across the world. This module will help you understand the science behind climate change and discuss how we might approach mitigation and adaptation of our rural road network.

What topics will you cover?

Climate related issues which might affect the design, construction and maintenance of low volume rural roads.

The Impact on the socio-economic situation of those reliant on low volume rural roads.

How the changing climate affects the impact of the design.

How the design, construction and maintenance of low volume rural roads can be modified to increase their climate resilience.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore research from the Research for Community Access Partnership (ReCAP) on rural roads.
  • Identify the anthropogenic causes of Climate change and global warming and have a basic understanding of the science that underpins climate change.
  • Assess how confidently climate change tools can be used to predict the most likely regional climate change events and the anticipated impact on rural roads.
  • Develop a range of maintenance and rehabilitation strategies and approaches to adapt the rural road network to climate change events and mitigate against damage and loss of function.
  • Explain effectively (to stakeholders and national strategic transport planners) the importance of appropriate planning for Climate change and adoption of climate adaptation procedures.

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone who has a general interest in learning about the impact of climate change on rural infrastructure.

It will be particularly useful for rural road practitioners and researchers in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia, practitioners who manage, design, construct and maintain Low Volume Rural Roads (LVRR), and postgraduate Engineering students studying rural road development in emerging and developing countries.

Who will you learn with?

I am a chartered civil engineer and academic based at Queen's University Belfast with consulting experience in geotechnics and pavement design on road construction projects across the globe.

I am a Senior Lecturer within the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham. I specialise in researching and teaching road asset management, with a focus on pro-poor development.

Who developed the course?

University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is a public research university, consistently listed as a leading UK university and ranked among the top 100 in the world.

Endorsers and supporters

recognised by

ReCAP logo

funded by


Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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