The Causes and Consequences of Environmental Radioactivity

In this module, students will learn the mechanisms by which radiation damages the body and the systems by which we measure and control exposure to radiation. The sources of naturally occurring radioactivity and radioactive contaminants and their behaviour in the environment will be studied in order to better understand how people can become exposed. Students will become better equipped to understand and evaluate the risk to human populations of nuclear accidents.

Through the study of specific radiation-related case studies, students will develop an understanding of risk in a wider context, being able to contribute more thoughtfully to nuclear-related debates in society. They will practice and develop their numerical skills through the determination of radioactive decay, learning to manipulate and solve basic radioactive decay law equation in the process.

Laboratory classes will be used to demonstrate concepts addressed in lectures, and students will be encouraged to put the data generated into the wider context. For example, students will practise dose assessments, and linking those back to the processes that control the fate and distribution of radionuclides in the environment, hence developing skills in synthesis and evaluation.