Introduction to Weather and Climate

Course summary

  • Wed 03 May 2017 to Wed 05 Jul 2017
  • 7:00-9:00pm 10 meetings
  • London Road Campus, University of Reading, RG1 5AQ
  • From £170.00
  • 10 CATS points
  • Course code R16P223BIW
  • +44 (0)1865 280892
  • Course cancelled

Introduction to Weather and Climate


Please Note: This class will start one week later than originally planned on the 3rd May and run until 5th July.

Weather affects many aspects of our daily lives. But what is weather? And why is it constantly changing?  This course aims to provide a basic understanding of how weather is generated, observed and forecast, and how weather might change in the future.

This course will give you the opportunity to understand the drivers of weather systems, what determines and influences the weather on a day-to-day basis, and  provide experience at interpreting weather maps and making your own forecasts. We will begin by discussing Earth's weather machine, how the large-scale atmospheric circulation systems are generated and determine the distribution of climatic zones. Measurements of atmospheric conditions using conventional or satellite instruments are fundamental in understanding atmospheric physics and providing accurate initial conditions necessary for predicting the weather. We will discuss mid-latitude weather systems, clouds and climate change in detail before dealing with severe weather and finally discussing UK's distinct climate.

Programme details

Term Starts:   3rd May      

Week 1:          Talking about the Weather

Week 2:          Earth's Weather Machine

Week 3:          All About the Atmosphere

Week 4:          Mid-Latitude Weather

Week 5:          Clouds, Rain and Moisture

Week 6:          Measuring the Weather

Week 7:          Weather Forecasting

Week 8:          The Changing Climate

Week 9:          Extreme Weather

Week 10:        Weather in the UK


Background Reading:

Shonk, Jon Introducing Meteorology: a Guide to Weather (Dunedin Academic Press)

Reynolds, Ross Cambridge Guide to the Weather (Cambridge)

Inness, Peter Teach Yourself Weather (Teach Yourself)

Recommended reading

Recommended Reading Field text (Library Field for Languages):

All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.

There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information. 

Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.

Recommended Reading List


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to do so.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)


Course Fee: £170.00
Take this course for CATS Points: £10.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Jon Shonk


Jon Shonk works in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading. His work involves investigating climate models and developing methods to improve their predictions.

Course aims

The course aims to provide students with a basic understanding of the Earth’s atmosphere and how this influences our weather. 

Course Objectives:

(1) To provide an appreciation and interest in the atmospheric physics controlling our weather patterns.

(2) To enable students to objectively interpret a weather forecast map.

(3) To provide sufficient background to speak knowledgeably about weather and climate, including related topics such as climate change.

Teaching methods

Each week consists of a "lecture", which covers the material interactively with plenty of discussion; a summary of last week's weather; then a chance to make forecasts of the weekend's weather in the Weather Game.

Teaching outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

(1) Identify reasons for differences in weather patterns and climate across the globe and processes involved in the formation of cloud types and precipitation.

(2) Analyse and describe the current weather situation using forecast maps and develop a method to predict weather for Reading and at selected European cities.

(3) Discuss issues relating to weather and climate such as climate change.

Assessment methods

(1) A worksheet on the global circulation, seasons, cloud formation and rainfall.

(2) The Weather Game: weather predictions for Reading and Europe each week.

(3) A multiple choice quiz to aid understanding of the atmospheric circulation and processes involved in producing cloud and rain.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form with any piece of work that is part of the assessment criteria. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.

Level and demands

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)