Online Microcredential in Nature & Environment

Climate Change and the Polar Regions: Tools for the Climate Crisis

Develop your understanding of climate change in the world, through the lens of the Polar regions.

Created by

The Open UniversityThe Open University

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Explore the effects of climate change

Develop your knowledge of the fascinating polar regions and why they have such far-reaching effects on climate change.

Aimed at those with a scientifically curious mind, this course is for anyone who wants to know more about climate change. On the course, you’ll examine the evidence for climate change and get to the important facts. You will learn to experiment and interpret rich, real-time data from the poles to understand climate change, now and in the future. This course will also enable you to make informed decisions about how you and others can tackle the climate crisis.

Understand how humans contribute to the climate crisis

The regions are teeming with life – including humans in the Arctic. You will discover the impact that humans have had on the poles from thousands of years to the present day.

Equip yourself with the evidence for climate change

It’s a unique opportunity for you to use data, the latest computer models and live satellite imagery to help you learn about our planet and generate the evidence to understand the climate crisis.

Develop your understanding of global warming

During this 10-week course you’ll learn about the intricate balance of the polar environment, and the surprising ways it connects us. You’ll observe global warming’s impact on ice, atmosphere, ecosystems, our oceans, and use climate modelling skills to make your own projections on the speed of change in the polar regions.

Throughout the course you’ll take part in weekly activities to support and consolidate your learning. At the end of the course, you’ll submit an assessment which is marked and graded by academic experts from The Open University.

By the end, you’ll be able to:

  • Understand the evidence for climate change using the polar regions as a critical example.
  • Have the confidence from your knowledge to share insights from the polar regions with other people and communicate in ways that will inspire them to take action to tackle the climate crisis.
  • Extend your view of the world to better understand the intrinsic link between science, society and the environment

Discover environmental solutions from leading award-winning experts

This microcredential is created by Professor Mark Brandon MBE who has been leading Polar Research at The Open University for 20 years and has spearheaded the OU’s contribution to landmark BBC series, such as Frozen Planet and Blue Planet 2. He is joined by Dr Ella Gilbert, who has undertaken remote Antarctic fieldwork and is passionately committed to communicating about science in an accessible way to reach and engage wide and diverse audiences.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds Dr Ella Gilbert: The Polar Regions wild, remote, untouched, but they are on the front line of the climate crisis. While the planet as a whole has warmed by around 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre industrial times, the Arctic has warmed by double this amount. On this 10 week course from the Open University, you’ll discover how humans have disrupted this complex environment, and how those changes are having far reaching impacts around the world. You could say that the polar regions are the canary in the coal mine, showing how the planet is changing, and why that should matter to all of us. Using live satellite and weather data, you’ll do your own real time research into the state of our planet.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds And you’ll learn from some of the world’s leading experts on the polar regions. We’re going to challenge everything you think you know about the polar regions, and will help you foresee the changes ahead so that you can make informed decisions about how to tackle the climate crisis.

What skills will you learn?

  • Recording and analysing climatic data 
  • Critical thinking
  • To perform simple experiments to enable you to make your own interpretations of environmental issues
  • To use different pieces of evidence to draw stronger conclusions on climate change
  • The ability to better understand familiar and unfamiliar environmental topics
  • Effective communication of the complex evidence of climate change

What you will achieve

By the end of the microcredential, you’ll be able to...

  • Understand the fundamentals of climate science and the evidence for climate change
  • Know how to place value on environmentally sensitive locations of our planet
  • Describe key processes and interactions (physical, biological, chemical and geological) which shape the polar environment at different temporal and spatial scales
  • Debate the value of environmentally sensitive locations of our planet
  • Respond to and interpret a variety of information sources, including text, numerical, graphical and audio-visual material
  • Solve numerical problems to extract meaningful environmental information

Are you eligible for this microcredential?

This is an introductory course and no previous skills or experience are required for this microcredential other than a willingness to engage in real-world climate change issues.

This course would suit those with a scientifically curious mind and those who are comfortable with a cross-disciplinary approach. For example, basic maths (subtraction, addition and multiplication) and basic graph reading skills are needed to support conclusions, and geopolitics are discussed in the context of the sustainable management of these regions.

Is this microcredential right for you?

This course is aimed at anyone with a passion for science, nature or the environment who is excited to learn about the remote regions of our planet. It’s for those concerned about the impact of humans and wants to understand how to moderate that impact and make informed choices in the future.

  • It would be the ideal prima for pre-university students wanting to extend their subject knowledge.
  • Recent graduates wanting to develop their scientific knowledge.
  • Professionals or any engaged individuals who are looking for a new approach to sustainability learning.


What happens before, during, and after your microcredential

  • Before learning

    You’ll have access to our online welcome area where you’ll be able to read any information relating to your microcredential.

  • Course

    From 24 Oct 2022

    Climate Change and the Polar Regions: Tools for the Climate Crisis

    Develop the skills and knowledge to understand the climate crisis through the lens of changes in the polar regions.

    10 weeks

    10 hours per week

  • After learning

    Your submitted assessment will be marked and graded by academic experts from The Open University. You’ll continue to have ongoing access to the course materials.

What you will receive

10 UK credits at Undergraduate level from The Open University and a certificate

Academic credits are awarded on passing the final assessment. These will be at undergraduate level 4 of the Framework for Higher Education (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) / Level 7 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

Find out how credits work and where you can use them in our FAQs.

What is a microcredential?

Microcredentials are designed to upskill you for work in rapidly-growing industries, without the time and cost commitment of a full degree. Your microcredential can stand alone as an independent credential, and some also offer academic credit to use towards a degree.

Learn online with expert instructors

Complete online courses led by experts over 12-16 weeks with a dedicated group of professionals.

Complete project-based assessments

Test your understanding with online tutor-marked assessments and exercises.

Earn a professional credential

Finish your learning and pass your assessments to gain an accredited credential.

Advance further in your career

Use your microcredential as evidence of your specialised skills and progress further in your industry.

Career-focused learning by The Open University

As the UK’s largest university, The Open University (OU) supports thousands of students to achieve their goals and ambitions via supported distance learning, helping to fit learning around professional and personal life commitments.

  • Established

  • Location

    Milton Keynes, UK
  • World ranking

    Top 510Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Delivered by experts

I am a polar oceanographer working at The Open University.
My web links are:

Ella is a polar climate scientist and communicator. You can find out more about her at and see her youtube videos at

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  • 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

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  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
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  • 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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We can accept payments made by card (Visa, Mastercard and American Express) or PayPal via our online system.

You will have 14 days from the day the course starts to apply for a refund. If this Microcredential has any non-refundable costs they will be stated in the ‘Overview’ section above. You can find more information in our cancellation and refund policy.

Microcredentials are designed to fit around your life and timezone.

There may be live events as part of your studies, but these will be recorded and can be watched afterwards if you aren’t online for the live broadcast.

No, microcredentials are designed to be taken anywhere in the world. You won’t need the right to study in the country where the university offering the microcredential is based.

Microcredentials are stand-alone products, designed to meet specific learner and employer needs and offer a credential in their own right. Those awarded by The Open University have a credit value at either undergraduate or postgraduate level, and this may in the future be used towards qualifications (for example, a Bachelor’s Degree, Diploma of Higher Education or Postgraduate Certificate) at The Open University, or potentially at another university (subject to the agreement of the receiving institution).

Want to know more? Read the microcredential FAQs, or contact us.