This article analyses climate literacy among university students, using their knowledge about the causes of climate change. Based on the theory of social representation, this comparative study examined a sample of 503 students. Using drawings and text, students were asked to respond to the question 'What is climate change?' They then completed an ad hoc survey. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data revealed that most students recognised human responsibility in climate change but demonstrated gaps in their understanding of the phenomenon. The results show that more specialised university education in the natural and technological sciences did not translate into more accurate representation, which was affected by common culture and scientific representation. In light of these findings, we offer recommendations for incorporating climate change into higher education curricula.