GV1B1-Introduction to Environmental Science

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:
The module provides an overview of the scope of Environmental Science, and introduces the scientific processes that control and affect our environment.

This module will introduce and define the scope of Environmental Science. The module includes an 'Earth systems' approach looking at aspects of solid Earth, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere including their interactions and changes through time. The impact of human activty on the Earth system is also considered.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Students will be able to define the concept of Earth System Science as applied to the environment. They will be able to discuss dominant processes within the environmental system relating to each of the major -spheres. Their understanding of human management choices, and human interactions with environmental systems will be testable through selected case studies.

Additional outcomes:
These include development of basic scientific skills such as ability to develop balanced scientific argument, ability to identify knowledge and opinion from literature review, ability to analyse a scientific system.

Outline content:
Outline lecture content
Lectures will introduce the scope of Environmental Science, and discuss dominant processes, and their characteristic time-scales, operating in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere. Examples of both passive and active human interaction with the environment will be explored. Specific lecture sessions will cover:
1. the scope of environmental science
2. major chemical cycles - carbon, nitrogen, etc
3. Earth systems interactions - biosphere, lithosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere
4. water resources and pollution
5. the oceans
6. climate change
7. the biosphere and ecosystem services
8. environmental legislation

Seminars and practical sessions will cover:
1. ecological footprints
2. carbon footprints
3. environmental modelling
4. scientific methodology
5. water quality
6. quantification of environmental problems

Global context:
This module is concerned with global cycles which form major components of the Earth system. Examples are drawn from a wide range of countries including the UK, USA, China, Bangladesh, and regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
There will be one or two weekly lectures of about fifty minutes each. Additional learning will involve a range of practical sessions / seminars.This is a 10 credit module, which means that it is intended to occupy you for 100 hours of work: background reading, essay preparation and writing, team meetings revision and sitting the examination. With that in mind the kind of workload you should expect might be as follows:

30 hours: Contact hours in formal teaching sessions
20 hours: Engaged in reading and note taking from ‘key texts’ for each week
15 hours: Engaged in reading, preparation and writing your essay
15 hours: Preparation for group poster presentations
2 hour: Revision class (Summer Term)
15 hours: Revision
1 hours: Examination (Summer Term)”

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 4
Practicals classes and workshops 20
Guided independent study 66
Total hours by term 96.00 4.00
Total hours for module 100.00

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

Other information on summative assessment:

Students will complete coursework designed to develop different aspects of their basic scientific and presentational skills. These account for 50% of the module marks. A one and a half hour examination accounts for the remaining 50% of the marks.

Formative assessment methods:
Students also have the opportunity to anonymously peer-review draft coursework in order to improve their scientific writing skills.

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:
    One and a half hours

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    By re-examination and/or re-submission of coursework 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

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