Climate and Environment in the Pre-Modern World



Climate history is a rapidly evolving field of study that aims to: firstly reconstruct climate conditions over past centuries and millennia; and secondly understand how societies perceived and responded to changing climates and extreme weather. These aims can be best achieved by combining evidence from natural and human archives.

In this module we will examine the historical development of natural archives such as tree-rings and ice-cores and introduce how they can be used to reveal past climate variations. We will then examine how this information can be combined with evidence from human archives, including written and archaeological records, to understand the social impacts of climate change and extreme weather.

In doing so, we will draw upon case studies of major episodes of climate change in areas such as ancient Egypt, Babylonia, the ancient American Southwest, medieval Ireland, Japan, China, and beyond. We will examine the role explosive volcanic eruptions and rapid changes in the Sun’s output of energy played in causing extreme weather (that was often accompanied by major human impacts such as famine, disease and conflict), before studying how these societies adapted to these changes.

Date, Time and Place

This lecture-only module comprises of one lecture per week over one term commencing in January 2024.

Please check the School of Histories and Humanities website for updates on this course at:

Course Fees

€85 full rate, €60 concession rate.

The concession rate is available to all those retired, over 65s, and those on a government pension / payment plan and the unwaged, including second- and third-level students.


Please check our website in December for updates on enrolment and term dates at:

You may apply online or by telephone as follows:

Online: Register and pay by credit/debit card online after enrolments open at:

By telephone: Text ‘APPLY FOR COURSE’ to +353 (0)87 2572015* and you will receive a call back confirming your registration. The phone will be busy during the application period so responses may be delayed. Please do not call to enroll for this course.

Get in Touch

Telephone Number

+353 (0)1 8968589