Climate and Environment in the Pre-Modern World



Climate history is a rapidly evolving field of study that aims (1) to reconstruct climate conditions over past centuries and millennia and (2) understand how societies perceived and responded to changing climates and extreme weather. These aims can be best achieved by combining evidence from both 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 climate variations in the past. 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 from the ancient and medieval eras. These case studies will bring us from ancient Egypt and Babylonia to the ancient American Southwest, and from there to Medieval Ireland, Japan, China and beyond. In these places we will examine the role that 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 the ways in which ancient and medieval societies attempted to cope with these impacts and adapt to changing climates.

Lecturer: Dr Francis Ludlow

Date, Time, and Place

Day-time course: Time and venue to be confirmed. Whether these lectures will be in person or online will depend on the situation with COVID 19 later in the year. If online, lectures may be pre-recorded and made available at the time the lectures should be scheduled, or they may be live on Zoom. Live lectures are not necessarily recorded, so you may have to attend at the time stated. for updates or text ‘INFO’ to 087 257 2015.


This lecture-only module comprises of one lecture per week over one term
commencing in January 2022.

Course Fees

€75 for the course. The concession rate for the course is €45. * The concession rate is available to second and third level students and people whose primary source of income is a Social Welfare pension or payment, Jobseekers, Health Board or a government-sponsored employment scheme.


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

Applications in person and by post for 2021-22 courses are suspended.

You may apply online or by phone* as follows:

ONLINE: You may register and pay by credit/debit card online at AFTER enrolments open for each term.

By telephone: Please text ‘APPLY FOR COURSE’ to 087 257 2015* and you will receive a call back from us.

Please note that the phone will be very busy during the application period and staff continue to work from home so there may be a delay in replying to your call. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

* Text only phone.