PH103-Global Environmental Chemistry

Module Provider: Meteorology
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Michaela Hegglin


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This interdisciplinary module introduces key chemical and physical processes needed to understand the chemistry of the global environment, how it is affected by human activity, and how these changes impact human and ecosystem health.

To help students attain an understanding of the chemistry of the environment, focussing on biogeochemical cycles, and the clean and polluted atmosphere. To provide scientific underpinning that prepares students for the discussion of leading environmental issues related to air pollution and global composition change.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module, the student should be able to:

• Describe the cycles of carbon, sulphur, phosphorus, and nitrogen in the global environment;

• Use basic equations to quantify chemical and physical processes in the global environment and atmosphere;

• Explain the chemical and physical processes involved in tropospheric-air pollution, acid rain, stratospheric ozone depletion, and anthropogenic climate change;

• Assess human-induced environmental changes and their impact on human health and the environment.

Additional outcomes:

The students will gain the basic knowledge in atmospheric chemistry needed for further study of the relationships between atmospheric transport and tropospheric air pollution as offered in the module MT2ACT.

Outline content:

• Physical structure and composition of the atmosphere;

• Molecules, chemical bonds, and reactions;

• Acids and bases;

• Carbon cycle and the acidification of oceans;

• Sulphur cycle and acid rain;

• Nitrogen and phosphorus cycles and fertilisation for agriculture;

• Greenhouse gases, radiative forcing, and the greenhouse effect;

• Stratospheric ozone;

• Stratospheric ozone depletion: mechanisms, environmental effects, and policy action;

• Tropospheric ozone and clean air photochemistry;

• Air pollution: photochemical smog, environmental effects, and related policy regulations;

• Global climate change: causes, environmental effects, and related policy.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The course material will be taught based on two lectures per week. A number of problem sheets, with opportunity for discussion during classes, will help students to test and develop their understanding of the course material and prepare them for the final exam.  Two assignments aimed at the development of transferable skills such as essay and scientific writing.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Guided independent study 80
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Written assignment including essay 15
Report 15

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
In addition to the exam, which will test the understanding of the full course material, there are two assignments. A mid-term assignment relating to the global biogeochemical cycles and an end of term scientific report which will involve critical analysis of the approaches being taken to address an environmental issue in the light of the course material on atmospheric chemistry and climate change.

Formative assessment methods:
Unassessed problem sheets on each section of material.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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:
    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.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:


    Reassessment arrangements:
    Resit exam the following summer.

    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: 20 April 2018


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