GV3AP-Air Pollution: Effects and Control

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Hong Yang

Email: h.yang4@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This course examines the effects and control of air pollution, enabling students to understand the issues and give them a basis for evaluating the controversies. The module will cover the history of air pollution, the “classical” air pollutants – sulphur dioxide and smoke; nitrogen oxides and particulates; ozone and other secondary pollutants; carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases; acid rain; indoor air pollution and air pollution in Asia. Current controversies about urban air pollution and the role of traffic, such as "Dieselgate" will be discussed in detail. The module will also examine the management of air pollution: how decisions are made and what legislation is in force. A visit to a monitoring site or industrial installation will be included if possible.


The aims of this module are: • To promote an understanding of the nature and effects of human-induced air pollution; • To assess some current controversies on the effects of air pollutants and the appropriate control measures to be applied.  • To understand the interface between science and politics in coming to decisions about air pollution. 

Assessable learning outcomes:
On completion of this module, students will be expected to: • Be able to give an account of the origins and effects of the major air pollutants; • Know something of the history of air pollution; • Understand the political and scientific basis for legislation affecting the control of air pollution in Europe and the USA; • Be able to evaluate the evidence bearing on current controversies about air pollution; • Know the major sources of data relating to air pollution.

Additional outcomes:

Students should improve their oral presentation skills through seminar presentations and group discussions and debates. The module should help them develop their skills of critically assessing information derived from scientific papers, reports, web resources and the popular media. Students should also develop their IT skills through word processing, presentation software and (if they choose) data analysis. These are all positive contributions to their transferable skills profile.

Outline content:

Air pollution is a topic of considerable scientific, economic and political importance, and is steadily rising up the political agenda. This module should enable students to understand the issues and give them a basis for evaluating the controversies which should be useful in other areas as well. Topics covered will be: History of air pollution, concentrating on the UK; The origins and effects of: The “classical” air pollutants – sulphur dioxide and smoke; Nitrogen oxides and particulates; Ozone and other secondary pollutants; Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases; Acid rain; Indoor air pollution; Air pollution in Asia; Managing air pollution: how decisions are made and what legislation is in force; Air pollution controversies. Air Pollution and health. Sources of information about pollution. Pollution monitoring: visit to a monitoring site. Students will be expected to follow up the lectures with their own reading, using both conventional and internet sources. Students will be trained in the use of the peer-reviewed research literature, and encouraged to use it.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

One three-hour session per week between Weeks 1 and 11 of the Autumn Term. The sessions include lectures interspersed with discussions, debates, and classroom exercises. Adversarial student-led seminars are used to cover some of the issues, in which groups take an opposing viewpoint about an air pollution issue.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 14
Seminars 5
Tutorials 10
Project Supervision 8
External visits 3
Guided independent study 160
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 40
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:
Two hours

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
One 2500-word essay is required on a choice of topic.
Group adversarial seminars are used to cover some topics, which are assessed for presentation quality as well as content using the standard GES protocol. These are assessed (10%), each student getting the same mark subject to confirmation of each student making an adequate contribution.

Formative assessment methods:

Discussions and debates on set topics are interspersed in the lectures. There is a seminar session where groups have to analyze a scientific paper related to air pollution and health, and a scientific evidence-related roleplaying exercise is used to raise awareness of the issues relating to ecological effects of air pollutants.

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy.
The following penalties will be applied to coursework which is submitted after the deadline for submission:

- 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;

- where the piece of work is submitted more than one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

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.
(Please refer to the Undergraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guideUG.aspx)

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A mark of 40% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-examination in August/September

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Just possibly a small contribution to travel costs if the site visit is distant from Reading.

Last updated: 20 April 2018


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