GV1A3-Chemistry of the Earth and Environment

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Hazel McGoff

Email: h.j.mcgoff@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module provides an introduction to the chemistry necessary to understand natural processes as well as pollutants in the aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric environment.

This module aims to provide the student with an understanding of why chemical reactions happen and the consequence of those reactions in terms of the composition and functioning of the natural environment.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
- predict whether reactions will occur or not
- explain the distribution and stability of elements in the environment
- discuss the periodic table and the importance of key elements
- construct simple box models of biogeochemical cycles
- explain controls on the composition of the atmosphere and hydrosphere
- perform simple experiments and data analysis to demonstrate chemical principles

Additional outcomes:
Students will enhance their data handling and reporting skills and gain some preliminary insight into mathematical modelling

Outline content:
This module is designed to provide an introduction into predicting why the composition of the environment is as it is and the reactions which occur in the environment. The course will touch upon aspects of contamination, remediation, atmospheric pollution and water chemistry. This module will be of equal interest to students concerned with the functioning of the natural environment and those concerned with the exploitation of natural resources.
The Lecture Content covers:
- laboratory skills
- elements & the periodic table
- types of chemical reactions and bonding
- free energy
- chemical equilibria
- acids and bases
- the chemistry of key environmental elements
- water chemistry
- atmospheric chemistry
The Practical Content covers:
- introduction to the environmental chemistry laboratory
- preparing solutions and measuring their properties
- measuring the energy of reactions
- predicting solubility
- measuring alkalinity, acidity and conductivity
- box models, Stiff & Piper diagrams
- chemistry of natural waters

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
There will be one lecture each week, followed by a practical session of about 2 hours.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Practicals classes and workshops 20
Guided independent study 70
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Other information on summative assessment:
Relative percentage of coursework: 50 % of the module

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    Examination: 2 hours.
    Part A (60 %) comprises multiple choice and short answer questions. Part B (40 %) comprises one question from a choice of three.
    Relative percentage of exam: 50% of the module

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40%

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Reassessed by coursework as specified by the School (50 %) and re-examination (50%) in August / September

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

    Things to do now