GVMEVP-Environmental Pollution

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:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Tom Sizmur

Email: t.sizmur@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Human activities have elevated the concentration of potentially toxic elements in the environment. This module will provide you with an understanding of the sources, transport pathways, and toxicity of key environmental contaminants. The practical content will allow you to apply contemporary methods to assess the effects of contaminants in the environment and interpret environmental data. 


This module aims to develop an understanding of the mechanisms by which potentially toxic elements contaminate the environment and cause toxicity to biological organisms. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

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

• Demonstrate a systematic understanding of complex scientific concepts by summarising contemporary environmental issues for policy makers

• Critically evaluate a wide range of research literature at the forefront of contemporary environmental issues.

• Identify the sources, transport pathways and fate of key contaminants in the environment

• Critically evaluate contemporary techniques for measuring the bioavailability of potentially toxic elements in soil, sediment and water

• Explain the mechanisms by which key contaminants are taken up by organisms and cause toxicity

• Apply bioassays to assess the bioavailability, toxicity and risk of a potentially toxic element

• Evaluate options for remediating contaminated environmental media


Additional outcomes:
This module will provide the opportunity to develop the following transferable skills
• Teamwork
• Laboratory procedures
• Data handling
• Written presentation

Outline content:

• Contaminants and Pollution

• Potentially Toxic Elements

• Bioavailability

• Ecotoxicology

• Environmental Risk Assessment

• Remediation


Global context:

This module will use case studies from all over the world to demonstrate the effect of contaminants on organisms and processes in the environment. Legislation will be introduced at the UK, and international level. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module will be delivered through interactive lectures, laboratory practicals and peer feedback workshops. 

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 18
Practicals classes and workshops 9
Guided independent study: 73
Total hours by term 100
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

40% - You will be required to write a two-page ‘Environmental Brief’ on a subject of your choice relevant to environmental chemistry. 20% - To support this brief you will be asked to provide an annotated bibliography of the scholarly literature used to explore the topic and compile the brief.

40% - You will be provided with a list of questions (akin to exam questions) to answer within short period of time.

Formative assessment methods:

A peer feedback session will be used to provide an opportunity for every student to receive formative feedback on their Environmental Brief ahead of the summative assessment deadline. 

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convener 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.

Assessment requirements for a pass:


Reassessment arrangements:

Resubmission of coursework in August. 

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: 10 April 2019


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