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Diary dates, shale edition

The University of Nottingham is running a free online course on unconventional oil and gas starting next week.

Shale gas is seen by many as a cheap, clean and plentiful source of energy; a low-carbon ‘game changer’ helping us meet the world’s rapidly growing demands for energy and offering greater energy security. Its rapid rise has not been without controversy, however. Earth tremors, surface and groundwater contamination, and the effects of fracking on human and animal health are all high profile concerns.

During this four-week course, we’ll study the politics, economics, and science of shale gas. We’ll examine how shale gas was formed, and how we extract it through hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’. We will look at the impact of shale gas on energy markets and energy security.

We then move on to the environmental politics of shale. What are the local effects in terms of water contamination, seismic activity, and air pollution? What are the global effects? Does shale gas offer a ‘bridge’ to a low-carbon future, or would we be walking the plank?

Finally we look at the question of what the public thinks, an area where the University of Nottingham has particular expertise, having run a public opinion survey on shale gas since 2012. Why are the US and UK experiences so different? What do the public think of allowing unconventional gas to be developed?

At the end of the course you will have improved you understanding of the costs and benefits of shale gas, and you will have made your contribution to the public debate on this important topic.

And you can get a certificate! Details here.

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Reader Comments (15)

It is wonderful that Nottingham University has expertise, having conducted public opinion surveys for a few years.

Lewandowsky, Nuccittelli and SKS will be able to reference this as being backed up by decades of research, and Nottingham will quote SKS as proving them right.

Biologists would call it self fertilisation, which would be very polite.

Jan 29, 2015 at 2:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

It seems that science at University of Nottingham is now being done through focus groups, public opinion surveys and 'X-Factor'-type phone-ins. So, next time they say: "The science says..." we'll know they really mean the vox populi.

They could have saved face a little if they also compared 'unconventional gas' fields with 'conventional gas fields'. But they wouldn't have the nerve.

Jan 29, 2015 at 2:39 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

I am in the process of going from an enthusiastic optimist to a resigned pessimist on the subject of fracking in the UK.
Mendacious Green and anti-industry politics are being successful in preventing us from ever finding out if the anticipated reserves are there, let alone commercially exploitable. the event that these reserves are exploited, who will benefit? Not the little people. The government seems to be determined to make energy expensive through tax if it is not already ; UK shale gas will be no exception. The benefit to the Exchequer will be pissed away as much of our tax is now. (North Sea Oil ought to have made GB a lot more prosperous than it did.) We really do not want to give them any more revenue. Au contraire. I doubt if our oil industry will expand all that much as the expertise , personnel and a lot of the machinery will come from abroad and a lot of any profits are likely to go there too.
Fortunately whatever gas there is will not go anywhere in the mean time. There may well come a time when we are a lot poorer and we need it a lot more than we need it now. By then the processes to extract it may yet become more efficient and even less intrusive and the circumstances may be different enough to allow all of us to benefit. I just hope we are still wealthy enough to be able to raise the capital to exploit it then.
Greens will of course be denied any use of it or benefit from it.

Jan 29, 2015 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Apparently No prior knowledge of fracking or shale gas is required - guess this applies to the lecturers as well

Jan 29, 2015 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterdavid jenkins

I wonder if they know that Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire have had a 'large' oil industry since the 1930s with 100s of wells, most of which were hydraulically fracked. The Nottinghamshire oilfields powered much of the UK war effort during WW2. Even the locals hardly know its there!

Jan 29, 2015 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterTBad

At least they seem to get one thing right:

We then move on to the environmental politics of shale. What are the local effects in terms of water contamination, seismic activity, and air pollution?

They have put the claims of water contamination, seismic activity and air pollution due to fracking in the political section.

Jan 29, 2015 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Any of these due to Fracking.

Jan 29, 2015 at 7:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobuk

This course will give you the opportunity to purchase a Statement of Participation

What is a Statement of Participation?

A Statement of Participation is a printed certificate available to purchase that shows you have taken part in a course on FutureLearn. On some courses, all learners who have enrolled and satisfied our definition of participation will be eligible to purchase a Statement of Participation. A Statement of Participation implies neither the award of credit points nor the conferment of a university qualification.

What does a Statement of Participation look like?

A Statement of Participation shows your name, the name of the course and the name of the university which delivered the course. It outlines the subject areas covered by the course, the number of hours of study required per week, and is signed by the Educator who delivered the course. It does not include individual levels of participation or aggregated test scores, but rather confirms that you completed at least 50% of the steps and all mandatory tests.

How much does a Statement of Participation cost?

Statements of Participation cost £29 per Statement. Prices include VAT / local sales tax, but exclude postage and packaging.

Jan 29, 2015 at 7:10 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Jack Savage
I'm afraid you may be right.

Jan 29, 2015 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

The course is run by

Pro Vice Chancellor (which vice she is in favour of isn't stated, but perhaps the Green manifesto offers some hints)

Current Research
Water management strategies in the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia (funded by the ESRC and the British Academy). Dust and Health in the Aral Sea Basin (funded by NATO, The Royal Society, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office) Late Holocene Environmental Change in Southern Alberta, The Ancient Raqqa (Syria) Industrial project (with Julian Henderson and Gary Priestnall, funded by the AHRB) Recent and long-term environmental change in Mexico

How's that Syrian research doing?

who teaches inter alia a course on the Politics of Climate Change.

Nottingham University has a Chinese branch, which is doubtless very keen to endorse the propagation of certain points of view.

Jan 29, 2015 at 9:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Why do a get a feeling the course will take a very 1984 approach to this with students being told that fracking can only be bad or double plus bad but in no way good. Still if your someone looking to do this course , you could always save yourself the money by just downloaded material form Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth of WWF , has its likley to be coming form them anyway .

Jan 29, 2015 at 11:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

I have signed up some weeks ago. It is run by the OU through Nottingham University. The OU are hand in glove with the BBC with climate change hysteria. I will report as to this course if required.

Jan 30, 2015 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Earthquake in Rutland recently.
No fracking, of course - so - who's to blame..?
SURELY you don't get earthquakes in the UK unless it can be blamed on fracking - stands to reason...

Jan 30, 2015 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Keep moving.

Jan 31, 2015 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

Earthquake in Rutland recently.
No fracking, of course - so - who's to blame..?
SURELY you don't get earthquakes in the UK unless it can be blamed on fracking - stands to reason...
Jan 30, 2015 at 1:01 PM | sherlock1

England and America are two countries separated by a common language.


What is an "Earthquake" now? Years ago it meant something different. Now it seems that anything that can be registered by seismology instruments such as a heavy truck, bus, passing rail train which can be infinitesimally small, and can be detected by modern equipment is now hyped and reported as an earthquake.

Is this the common thinking and change in language now? Is this why flatulence that can be detected in NOAA offices are now named storms?

It seems that there is no longer a common language. Black can mean white, night can mean day and there is no way while you have your pants down next to me on a sunny day that I am really going to believe it is raining.

How can all of this tax payer money be spent when those that spend the funds have redefined the words used to describe the line items?

Jan 31, 2015 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul in Sweden

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