Environmental Science

The following modules are available to incoming Study Abroad students interested in Environmental Science.

Alternatively you may return to the complete list of Study Abroad Subject Areas.

LEC.171: The Earth's Interior

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas term only
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school mathematics and/or physics.

Course Description

This course covers the internal structure and dynamics of the Earth, evidence for continental drift and sea floor spreading, how plate tectonics works, and some environmental consequences of the Earth’s internal processes. The course includes nine hours of laboratory (lab) work.

Educational Aims

To understand the internal structure and dynamics of the Earth, and how plate tectonics works.  Introduction to some environmental consequences of the major internal processes.

Outline Syllabus

Lecture Outline

  • Lecture 1: A brief history of the Earth
  • Lecture 2: Seismology and the Earth's layers
  • Lecture 3: The Earth's core and geomagnetism
  • Lecture 4: The ocean basins and seafloor spreading
  • Lecture 5: Continental drift and plate tectonics
  • Lecture 6: How and why plates move
  • Lecture 7: Cooling the Earth
  • Lecture 8: Continents ? past and future
  • Lecture 9: Melting the mantle
  • Lecture 10: Mantle plumes
  • Lecture 11: Environmental consequences of Earth's internal processes
  • Lecture 12: Revision

Practical/Workshops

  • 1.       Continents and ocean basins
  • 2.       The Earth's fractured surface (map-based workshop)
  • 3.       Environmental consequences of the Earth's internal processes

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.172: Geology

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school science.

Course Description

This course aims to convey why it is important for scientists, whatever their discipline, to have a basic understanding of geological processes. Emphasis is placed on the dynamic way in which the Earth works. The following five geological processes are studied: formation of minerals, volcanism, metamorphism, sedimentation and deformation. The course includes nine hours of lab work.

Educational Aims

  • Describe the structure of minerals
  • Describe the causes and effects of selected geologic processes (e.g. volcanism, deformation, sedimentation, metamorphism).
  • Identify common rocks and minerals.
  • Use a petrological microscope.
  • Use geologic maps to interpret the geologic history of a region. 

Outline Syllabus

Lecture Outline

  • 1.Background to course
  • 2.Geologic time and space. Relative geologic timescale.
  • 3.Absolute geologic timescale. Formation of minerals.
  • 4.Structure of minerals. Minerals through the microscope.
  • 5.Volcanism case history.
  • 6.Plutonism versus volcanism. Classification of igneous rocks.
  • 7.Style of volcanic eruptions and volcano geomorphology.
  • 8.Origins of magma. Introduction to poster exercise of practical 3.
  • 9.Deformation (stress and strain).
  • 10.Deformation (folds, faults and joints).
  • 11.Metamorphism; regional metamorphism.
  • 12.Metamorphism; contact and dynamic metamorphism.
  • 13.Module test.

Practical/workshop

  • 1.The Mineral Kingdom.
  • 2.Volcanoes and Magma Chambers.
  • 3.Sediments and Geological Maps, Geology and the Environment posters.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.173: Biogeochemical Cycles

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 1-5 of Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school chemistry, and mathematics and/or physics.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to some key biogeochemical processes occurring in the atmosphere, natural waters and soils. It also shows how biogeochemical processes fit into the bigger picture of biogeochemical cycling and Earth Systems Science and gives examples of biogeochemical cycles of elements on various spatial and time scales. The practical sessions reinforce the lecture material and introduce you to related modelling and experimental skills. The course includes nine hours of lab work.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Explain the nature and significance of key biogeochemical processes (photosynthesis, respiration, chemical weathering, free radical reactions, cloud chemistry, atmospheric loss processes).
  • Describe the biogeochemical cycles of selected elements.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Module overview.  Introduction to Earth System Science and related importance of biogeochemical processes.  Introduction to box-model approach to quantifying the dynamic behaviour of environmental systems.  Related concepts, e.g. mass balance, conservative versus non-conservative behaviour, residence times, steady versus non-steady state.
  • Chemical weathering and its environmental significance.
  • Nature and significance of photosynthesis and respiration in terms of their effects on the Earth's chemical environment.
  • Photolysis and free radical chemistry, clouds and cloud chemistry, atmospheric loss processes (wet and dry deposition).
  • Examples of biogeochemical cycles, e.g. N, S and Hg.

Practicals

  • Box-modelling practical.
  • Laboratory experiment on chemical weathering rates of limestone.
  • Acid-rain laboratory experiment.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.174: Hydrology: Water in the Environment

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 6-10 of Lent/Summer Term Only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school mathematics and/or physics.

Course Description

The course aims to introduce the science of hydrology through an appreciation of the transfer of precipitation to evaporation, groundwater and river flow. Emphasis is given to hands-on experience of various gauging techniques. Case studies of a) the physical impacts of rainforest logging (Borneo) and b) assessment of potential water contamination by a buried radionuclide repository (West Cumbria) are used. The course includes nine hours of lab and fieldwork.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student will be able to: Generic Outcomes

  • Measure waterflows and soil/rock properties
  • Manipulate algebraic equations
  • Relate physical theory to the solution of environmental problems

Subject Specific Outcomes 

  • Describe and manipulate the water balance equation and the groundwater flow equation

Outline Syllabus

Lecture Outlines

  • Water catchment issues
  • Precipitation
  • Evapo-transpiration
  • Riverflow
  • Water pathways and erosion hazard
  • Subsurface water
  • Soil water and solute travel times
  • Summary and revision session
  • End-of-module test

Practical/Workshops

  • Fieldwork in White Scar Cave (gauging and guided visit)
  • Laboratory practicals using 6 pieces of apparatus (flumes, model catchments, groundwater test apparatus, etc)
  • Guided course text reading

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.175: Atmosphere, Weather & Climate

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 1-5 of Summer Term Only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school mathematics and/or physics.

Course Description

This course introduces, by lectures and laboratory work, basic observations of the Earth’s atmosphere and outlines a mainly descriptive framework for understanding its physical behaviour. The course includes nine hours of lab work.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student will be able to: Generic Outcomes

  • Write a laboratory report that presents results clearly and relates results to subject-specific knowledge.
  • Manipulate algebraic equation
  • Recognise derivatives and their importance in problem-solving

Subject-Specific Outcomes

  • Recall the temperature and pressure structure of the atmosphere.
  • Discuss the nature, significance, and reliability of meteorological observations
  • Relate measurements and charts of weather to basic principles governing the atmosphere
  • Compute atmospheric variables using the Equation of State and the hydrostatic relation.
  • Define stability, lapse rate, and potential temperature, and compute potential temperature

Outline Syllabus

Lecture Outline

  • An initial overview
  • Meteorological observations
  • Global radiative equilibrium
  • The behaviour of gases and the atmosphere's pressure structure
  • Atmospheric thermodynamics and the thermal structure of the atmosphere
  • The water cycle and clouds
  • The Coriolis force and large-scale weather systems

Practicals/Workshops:

  • The physical basis of meteorology and meteorological Observation.
  • Meteorological analysis

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.181: Numerical Skills I

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: No Pre-requisite.

Course Description

This course is designed to give you a foundation course in the numerical skills required for studying environmental science. The course concentrates on explicit links between the mathematical analysis and physical processes involved with environmental systems. In this regard, environmental case studies are employed throughout the course and a number of environmental data sets are analysed.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student will be able to: Generic Outcomes:

  • Manipulate basic mathematical equations.
  • Prepare basic graphical presentations of data.
  • Describe logarithmic and exponential functions.
  • Use dimensional and/or unit analysis on simple equations
  • Calculate statistical measures from small datasets

Subject Specific Outcomes 

  • Apply the concepts outlined in the generic outcomes to environmental examples including radioactive decay, atmospheric pressure scale height and chemical kinetics.

Outline Syllabus

Lecture Outline

  • Simple Arithmetical Principles, Units and Dimensions: SI unit system; unit conversion; dimensional analysis; exercises based on environmental examples.
  • Simple Algebra: what symbols mean; arranging symbols into equations; rearranging equations; brackets and negative numbers; fractions; calculator skills.
  • Introductory Graphs and Linear Functions: axes; plotting points; clear presentation; plotting equation of a straight line y=mx+c; slope and gradient. Exercises based on environmental examples, e.g. field data from a variety of sources.
  • Exponential and logarithmic functions: integer and fractional (surds) powers; negative powers; e; log10; ln; relationship between logs and exponents; plotting logarithmic and exponential functions; Examples: radioactive decay, Growth of a populations and chemical kinetics.
  • The Log/Log Graph: Power law; Transformation to linear form.
  • The Semi-Log Graph: Exponential Law; Transformation to linear form.
  • Environmental Statistics and data analysis: mean; mode; median; quantiles - relate to standard error bars on measurement points; errors in data (where do they come from).

Practical/Workshop

  • Supervised paper exercises on material from the lectures.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.182: Introduction to Environmental Chemistry

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school mathematics and/or chemistry.

Course Description

This is a support course for students weak in Chemistry. It provides a basic treatment of relevant aspects of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry; discussions of their relevance to environmental chemistry; practical sessions giving training in basic chemical laboratory skills and an introduction to chemically and instrumentally based analytical methods. The course includes nine hours of lab work.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student will be able to: Generic Outcomes  

  • Work safely and competently in a chemical laboratory.

Subject Specific Outcomes 

  • Describe the basic chemical characteristics of substances.
  • Explain what is meant by a chemical reaction and why reactions occur.
  • Explain the difference between chemical equilibrium and kinetics.
  • Explain the nature and importance of interactions between electromagnetic radiation and matter.
  • Provide environmental examples to illustrate previous outcomes

Outline Syllabus

Lecture Outline

  • Atomic structure; isotopes; radioactivity; electron configuration of atoms; chemical bonds and structure of molecules; properties of matter; gas laws; and the periodic table.
  • Introduction to organic compounds.
  • Aqueous solutions and ions
  • Chemical reactions and energy. Chemical equations and reversibility.
  • Kinetics: first order reactions; rate constants.
  • Chemical equilibrium: equilibrium constants
  • Interactions of electromagnetic radiation and matter, illustrated by reference to spectroscopy and environmental reactions (photochemistry)

Practicals/Workshops

  • Atomic structure.
  • Molecular properties.
  • Instrumental chemical analysis. 

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.183: Numerical Skills II

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 1-5 of Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: No Pre-requisite.

Course Description

The course follows up the foundation course (LEC.181) in this subject and is designed to give you a more comprehensive grounding in the numerical skills required for studying environmental science. Relevant examples from other LEC modules are employed. There are 12 two-hour workshops, with a 30-minute introductory presentation followed by 90 minutes of hands-on practice.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student will be able to: Generic Outcomes  

  • Manipulate trigonometric equations
  • Describe the basic principles of calculus
  • Solve simple differential equations
  • Apply the generic skills learnt here to numerical problems encountered in other courses

Subject Specific Outcomes  

  • Apply the concepts outlined in the generic outcomes to environmental examples including radioactive decay, atmospheric pressure scale height and chemical kinetics.

Outline Syllabus

Lecture Outline

  • Algebra: this most essential of numerical skills often causes great difficulty and impedes progress in other areas of numerical work. Here we concentrate on the components of equations (constants, variables, operators) and how to manipulate them into more useful forms.
  • Simultaneous and quadratic equations: extracting values for parameters from a series of related equations; factorisation; roots. Introducing concepts of model calibration. Practicing your algebra!
  • Basic Trigonometry: Sine, Cosine, Tangent. Degrees and radians; The right angled triangle; Oscillatory behaviour and Periodicity; Seasonal variation; Exercises based on environmental examples, e.g. atmospheric CO2 data.
  • Environmental data handling and statistics.
  • Differentiation : Notation; Basic definition; Rates of change; gradient;
  • Area under a curve: trapezium rule; Simpson's Rule
  • Integration: Notation; Basic definition; Inverse of differentiation.

Practicals/Workshops

  • Supervised paper exercises on material from the lectures.

Assessment Proportions

Exam: 50%

Coursework: 50%

LEC.185: Natural Hazards

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 1-5 of Summer Term Only.
  • US Credits: 2 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 4 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: High school mathematics and/or physics.

Course Description

This course describes the distribution of, and hazards associated with, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and extremes of weather, and identifies various ways of reducing human vulnerability to these natural hazards. The course includes nine hours of lab work.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student will be able to: Generic outcomes: 

  • Contour spatial data by hand
  • Apply simple equations and graphical methods to determine earthquake location, magnitude and intensity.  

Subject-specific outcomes: 

  • Describe the distribution, causes and effects of various natural hazards, and methods of monitoring, prediction and mitigation, giving appropriate examples.
  • Interpret ground deformation data in terms of magma movement inside a volcano.

Outline Syllabus

Lecture Outline

  • Introduction to hazards and risk analysis.
  • Volcanic eruptions - distribution, explosive and non-explosive volcanism, hazards, monitoring, prediction and mitigation.
  • Earthquakes - distribution, magnitude, intensity, hazard assessment and mitigation.
  • Tsunamis - causes, speed, amplitude, hazards and mitigation.
  • Hurricanes/typhoons/tropical cyclones - distribution, structure, hazards, intensity, mitigation.
  • Tornadoes - distribution, structure, hazards and mitigation.
  • Floods - causes and effects of river and coastal flooding, and what can be done to reduce human vulnerability to floods.

Practicals/Workshops:

  • Inside Hawaiian volcanoes.
  • Measuring earthquakes
  • Earthquake and tsunami early warning systems

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.243: Experimental Design and Analysis

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: No pre-requisite

Course Description

All scientists need to be able to understand the scientific method, to design experiments, to be able to collect data in an unbiased scientific manner, to analyse it using robust statistical techniques and to present it in a clear and concise form, in an appropriate medium and in a way that is appropriate to a relevant audience. The aim of this course is to introduce you to these complementary methods. The course includes 30 hours of practical sessions/workshops.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Relate the notion of the scientific method to their own scientific endeavour;
  • Appreciate the importance of variation in environmental and ecological systems, and how to measure and describe it;
  • Design and execute experiments which distinguish effectively between variation due to experimental effects and underlying uncontrolled variation;
  • Use simple statistical tests to analyse data, taking into account the underlying assumptions of those tests;
  • Use a computer-based statistical package (e.g. SPSSx) to analyse data;
  • Report their findings in a style appropriate to the audience.

Outline Syllabus

The proposed module will be arranged around 10 lectures and 10 3-hour practicals, comprising field excursion, laboratory sessions, computer practicals and workshops. The exact format will vary from week to week to reflect changing learning outcomes. The module will be taught by staff within LEC and the department of Maths and Statistics.

The module outline follows:

  • Introduction - Overview of the aims of the module, including introduction to history/philosophy of (environmental) science and the scientific method.
  • Collecting data - a campus-based excursion to collect data as a class for later analysis - e.g. Quadrat use, insect sampling vegetation measures, etc.
  • Designing experiments - Principles of experimental design: hypotheses, replicates, randomisation, blind procedures, etc.
  • Summarising data - Introduction to data summaries (using field data in Excel) - e.g. data distributions, histograms, summary statistics, plotting data in different ways.
  • Analysing data I - Introduction to computer-based statistics packages (e.g. SPSS): lecture + computer practical.
  • Analysing data II - Tests and confidence intervals: t-tests and non-parametric stats.
  • Analysing data III - Association, correlation and regression.
  • Analysing data VI - Regression analysis.
  • Analysing data V - Comparing two or more groups (ANOVA and non-parametric statistics).
  • Reviewing scientific literature - How to read and interpret data in papers.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 100%

LEC.272: Environmental Data Visualisation and Analysis

  • Terms Taught: Summer Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: College level environmental science and mathematics.

Course Description

The course focuses on data pre-processing, processing and visualisation for use with dissertation work. It includes introductory elements of Matlab and Simulink, currently a de facto visualisation and numerical processing standard. Some comparison to other programming languages, in particular Fortran and C, is provided. The main programming elements are introduced and used in examples: data input, processing, output in numerical and graphical forms, programming tools and structures (loops, conditional statements and other flow control). The course introduces selected principles of dynamic systems modelling applied to environmental systems in the form of worked examples and case studies.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Communicate with programming professionals on a basic level.
  • Solve basic data processing problems using MATLAB or other programming languages.
  • Use a sophisticated, programmable data presentation and visualisation tool; load, process and save data in numerical and graphical form.
  • Recognise the most fundamental features of computer programming languages.
  • Adapt the obtained MATLAB programming skills to learning of most other programming languages
  • Design, write, run and debug simple MATLAB programs; with a potential to use MATLAB as a comprehensive programming language
  • Relate the concepts of serial, parallel and feedback connections to processes in the environment.
  • Formulate Simulink block diagram representations of simple environmental systems.    

Outline Syllabus

  • Introduction; Aims of programming; Course aims; Basic definitions;
  • The scientific method;
  • Programming languages: development, common features, application areas
  • Starting and using Matlab; scripts; toolboxes; search paths; variables and expressions; programmer's tools: editor/debugger;
  • Program control: loops and nested loops;
  • The concept of a dynamic system, transfer function, ADZ model of dispersion in a river
  • Introduction to graphical simulation systems: Simulink, block diagrams analysis;
  • More program control: Conditional statements
  • Functions and subroutines 
  • Simulink: second order system examples: Gilliland climate model; feedback connections "in the animal and the machine"
  • First module test (end of week 24)
  • Matlab and general defaults handling; error handling
  • Files and data input and output;   
  • Computer graphics and visualisation with handle graphics
  • Advanced visualisation (multivariable data) ? continued from ENV201 
  • Program design, libraries; program development and debugging
  • Summary and revision workshop
  • End of module test (end of week 27)
  • Case studies and dissertation data processing clinics

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 100%

LEC.274: Geologic Mapping

  • Terms Taught: Summer Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.277

Course Description

This is a six-day residential course, held in south-west Mull, Scotland, in early Summer term. You will collect field data in order to make a single solid geological map and will describe, sketch, photograph and map key localities. You will be taught geological mapping skills, ie indication of outcrops on field slips of 1:10,000 scale, map reading, recording of information in notebooks, inking in of maps and safety in the field. Work will be in teams of up to five students. Numbers are limited, so please enquire as to availability of places.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to: 

  • Understand the techniques of geologic map making
  • Understand the values of geologic maps
  • Make a 1:10,000 geologic map
  •  Make comprehensive field notes
  •  Plot structural data on maps
  • Recall key aspects of the geologic history of the British Isles, from the Precambrian to the present day 

Outline Syllabus

Fieldwork: This is a six day residential course, held in SW Mull, Scotland, which provides training in geologic mapping.  Students collect field data in order to make a single solid geologic map.  Students describe, sketch, photograph and map key localities.  They are taught geologic mapping skills, i.e. indication of outcrops on field slips of 1:10,000 scale, map reading, recording of information in notebooks, inking in of maps and safety in the field.  Work is in teams of up to five students.

The course commences with an orientation day during which outcrops significant to the mapping area are visited.  There are four days of mapping.  Each team is expected to cover a broadly similar area.  Most of the time the teams will be supervised by a lecturer or a demonstrator; occasionally student teams work independently.  One day involves observations of some of the oldest rocks in the UK (the Lewisian gneisses on the island of Iona) and the rocks that formed during the opening of the Atlantic Ocean at Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa.

This is a self-catering course and students pay for their own food.

Practical/ workshop: The first evening class of this module is an introduction to the module.  On other evenings, students ink in maps and field notebooks, plot structural data on maps, establish the likely processes which formed the rocks, sediments and geomorphology of the mapped area, and determine the geological history of the mapped area.  Each evening, students plan where they will map the following day. 

Assessment Proportions

  • Report: 100%

LEC.275: Catchment Hydrology

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 1-5 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.174 and LEC.181 or LEC.183

Course Description

The course is designed to introduce plus measurement and analytical techniques used by hydrologists to solve water-related problems in catchments. The course includes nine hours of lab/fieldwork.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student will be able to: Generic Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate the ability to use data and basic models to derive solutions.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use literature to help understand theory and limitations

Subject Specific Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate how to describe catchment hydrological processes, quantitatively

Outline Syllabus

Lecture

  • Introduction to catchment hydrology
  • Rainfall: processes & measurement
  • Rainfall: analysis
  • Evapotranspiration: direct measurement
  • Evapotranspiration: processes
  • Subsurface flow: states and flows
  • Runoff: measurement & basic analysis
  • Rainfall-runoff: processes & pathways
  • Rainfall-runoff: basic modelling
  • Rainfall-runoff: distributed modelling
  • Water quality: measurement
  • Water quality: treatment
  • Revision session
  • Research case studies
  • End of module test

Practical/Workshop 

  • Subsurface water practical (Ou catchment)
  • Water quality practical involving a guided visit to the Franklaw WTW

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.276: Aquatic Biogeochemistry

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.173 or equivalent

Course Description

The aims of this course are to introduce you to a) the nature of aquatic systems from a chemical standpoint, b) the main processes and factors governing the chemical composition of natural waters, c) a range of case studies to illustrate a and b and d) various analytical methods and analytical quality control considerations. The course includes eight hours of lab work and four hours of workshops.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student will be able to:Generic Outcomes

  • Prepare an Excel spreadsheet for data analysis and presentation.
  • Apply algebraic and IT skills to aquatic chemistry

Subject Specific Outcomes

  • Describe the basic chemical characteristics of natural waters.
  • Discuss the factors and processes controlling the chemical composition of natural waters.

Outline Syllabus

Lecture Outline

  • The nature of aquatic systems and the properties and characterization of substances present in natural waters.
  • Chemical equilibrium.
  • Acids, bases, pH, pH buffering, alkalinity, the CO2 system.
  • Chemical weathering and clay minerals.
  • Redox processes.
  • Sorption phenomena and colloids
  • Acid rain case study

Practical/Workshop:

  • Practical concerned with spectrophotometry analysis of Ca and quality assurance
  • Practical concerned with CO2 system and pH buffering, including measurement of pH and alkalinity.
  • Workshop providing experience of various numerical exercises.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.277: Geoscience in Practice

  • Terms Taught: Lent Term Only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.171, LEC.172 and LEC.270 or equivalent

Course Description

The landscapes we see today are the consequence of interaction between tectonic uplift (endogenetic) processes and denudational (exogenetic) processes. These processes are continually in flux resulting in a dynamic landscape which evolves and adjusts through time. This course examines tectonic processes and products (rocks), the interaction between uplift and denudation, and looks at how we can recognise and quantify the amounts and rate of change. This is a strongly practical-based course, designed to provide students with key geological skills. Lectures are designed to provide introductory background to the practical and field skills required for the assessed assignments. Assessment: 100% coursework.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module students will be able to: Generic Outcomes  

  • Synthesise data from a number of different sources and compile it into a coherent picture.
  • Carry out independent thinking, and interpretations of data for which there may be more than one potential answer. 

Subject Specific Outcomes 

  • Be able to identify rocks in the lab, identify minerals in thin section, interpret structural, sedimentological and field data, understand how to interpret isotopic data to date rocks, interpret basic geological maps.
  • From the above information, determine how rocks can be used to determine past sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic environments.
  • From this information, determine the processes by which deformation and uplift occur, the interaction with erosion in the development of earths surface features, and how the rates at which these processes occur can be quantified. 
  • Carry out field measurements (structural and sedimentary) and interpret the data.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Introduction
  • Endogenetic processes and product. Epeirogenesis and orogenesis.
  • Assessed assignment introduction
  • Recognising and interpreting exogenetic processes: sedimentary rocks
  • Recognising and interpreting endogenetic processes:  metamorphic rocks
  • Recognising and interpreting endogenetic processes: igneous rocks
  • Field trip introduction: determining tectonics and sedimentary facies in the field
  • Using a stereonet to determine stress direction from fold data
  • Using a stereonet to determine palaeocurrent information from sedimentary structures.
  • Determining rates of endogenetic and exogenetic processes: isotopic techniques.
  • Video: tectonic processes.  Focused on the Himalaya.
  • Compulsory day field trip to Tebay (Assessed Assignment 3):
  • Determination of tectonics and deformation from fold, fault and way-up structures
  • Determination of facies from palaeocurrent data and depositional environment assessment.

Practicals

  • practical sessions to develop skills needed to complete the assessed assignments (see below),  emphasis on developing microscopy skills.
  • development of field skills, measurements and interpretations related to tectonics and sedimentary rocks.
  • this module is designed to develop generic skills required by Earth Scientists. Assessment is therefore 100%cwa (no exam) in order to maximise the amount of time available for the development of these skills.
  • Substantial amounts of private lab study are required in order to complete the cwa.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 100%

LEC.278: Soil Science

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 6-10 of Lent term only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.103 or equivalent

Course Description

This course aims to demonstrate the nature and properties of soils in an environmental context. An introduction to soil formation, description, chemical and physical properties, and biology, leads to the application of soil science to a variety of practical problems. The course includes eight hours of lab work and four hours of workshops.

Educational Aims

Generic Outcomes

  • Write a standard report describing analysis of soil in the field, the processes and factors responsible for its creation.

Subject Specific Outcomes

  • Describe the nature and role of soils in the environment.  
  • Give a basic account of soil chemical and physical properties, and soil biology.
  • Discuss applied aspects of soils, specifically nutrient cycling and carbon storage.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Introduction to the module
  • Why are soils critical for the future of planet Earth?
  • Mini field trip.
  • What is soil and how is it formed - Part 1
  • What is soil and how is it formed - Part 2
  • Soil and water. Part 1
  • Soil and water. Part 2
  • Fundamentals of soil chemistry and biology , part 1
  • Fundamentals of soil chemistry and biology , part  2
  • The biggest carbon store on Earth.
  • Soil nutrient cycling - Nitrogen
  • Soil nutrient cycling - phosphorus
  • Soil nutrient cycling - potassium, sulphur
  • Soil Salinity
  • Guest speaker
  • And we still treat it like dirt.

Practical/Workshops

  • Field trip to the Trough of Bowland
  • Chemical soil properties
  • Soil biology

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.279: Atmospheric Science

  • Terms Taught: Lent term only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.175

Course Description

This module aims to develop a deeper understanding of atmospheric physics and chemistry, following on from the basic grounding in meteorology provided in LEC.175. The module begins by laying the foundations with the physical properties of the atmosphere and how they affect the movement of air, and a major objective is to bring familiarity with meteorological analyses and forecasts. We cover topics varying from small scale flow in the atmospheric boundary layer affecting pollutant transport to global scale circulation of the atmosphere including important phenomena such as monsoons and El Niño. Study of mid-latitude synoptic systems, cyclones and fronts will be reinforced by a visit to the Hazelrigg meteorological station. This is built on by giving students sufficient knowledge about the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere, of the fluxes of C, S and N to and from the atmosphere and of the main chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere to allow them to understand how the Earth's atmosphere 'works' chemically within the framework of physical process already covered.

Educational Aims

Subject Specific Outcomes:

  • Describe the structure and behaviour of the atmosphere with reference to meteorological observations.
  • Describe the pathways of atmospheric transport from analysis of meteorological charts.
  • Draw schematic diagrams of the general tropospheric circulation and identify the major processes (and underlying forces) that drive this circulation.
  • Calculate atmospheric quantities, such as potential temperature, and use the results of these calculations to describe the state of the atmosphere.
  • List the components of the unpolluted troposphere, including the trace gases of chemical significance
  • Draw annotated schematic diagrams of the atmospheric cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur
  • Describe in words and using chemical equations, the ozone chemistry of the troposphere and stratosphere,
  • Calculate reactant or product concentrations using chemical kinetic data

Generic Outcomes

  • Work confidently in a field-station setting, with due regard for safety, careful measurement, and care of equipment.
  • Apply a knowledge of basic mathematical principles to describe the physical environment
  • Construct simple maps from spatially distributed data
  • Write standard reports on practical work

Outline Syllabus

Lectures:

  • Atmospheric structure: the equation of state, the hydrostatic equation, potential temperature and geostrophic flow.
  • The planetary boundary layer: its structure and diurnal variation, atmospheric turbulence.
  • The general circulation - global air movements, pressure belts and surface winds, how these arise and how they vary with the seasons.
  • Tropical meteorology: monsoon systems and the El Niño Southern Oscillation.
  • Mid-latitude meteorology: the thermal wind, Rossby waves, extra-tropical cyclones and frontal development.
  • The stratosphere: The Brewer-Dobson circulation, potential vorticity and the polar vortex.
  • Chemical composition of the atmosphere
  • The carbon cycle: carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
  • Particles in the atmosphere
  • Gas phase reaction kinetics
  • Photochemistry and ozone in the troposphere
  • Ozone in the stratosphere

Workshops/Practicals:

  • Visit to Hazelrigg and analysis of meteorological observations
  • Geostrophic trajectory analysis of the radioactive cloud from Chernobyl
  • Numerical problems class
  • Chemical kinetics experiment
  • Lead in soils experiment

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 50%
  • Coursework: 50%

LEC.282: Energy, Economy and Environment

  • Terms Taught: Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: No pre-requisite

Course Description

As a result of increasing energy demand, concerns regarding security of supply and the need to de-carbonise energy supplies to mitigate climate change, sustainable energy provisioning is one of the challenges society faces. This module provides an overview of energy technologies and the energy system within the UK. Following an introduction on why energy is important, forms of energy, energy units and basic calculations and how it is used, the module focuses on each of the key energy technologies in turn. The specifics of each energy technology including how it works, how much is produced, economics, environmental impacts and its current role in the energy mix will be outlined. Energy distribution networks, overall policy drivers and future energy mixes will also be detailed.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • detail the importance of energy
  • outline the forms and uses of energy
  • understand energy units and be able to make basic calculations
  • describe the key energy technologies, including costs and environmental impacts
  • outline the energy distribution system
  • describe the potential role of carbon capture and storage in low carbon energy production
  • describe energy policies
  • discuss potential future energy mixes

Outline Syllabus

The provisioning of affordable, low carbon and secure energy is a central challenge for the UK Government. This module provides an overview of energy technologies and the energy system within the UK. Following an introduction on why energy is important, forms of energy and how it is used, the module will focus on each of the key energy technologies in turn. The specifics of each energy technology including how it works, how much is produced, economics, environmental impacts, relevant policies and its current role in the energy mix will be outlined. Energy distribution networks, overall policy drivers and future energy mixes will also be detailed. The aim is to equip students with a broad understanding of energy technologies and the energy system.

Lecture schedule (50 min each)

  • The importance, types and uses of energy
  • Energy units and calculations
  • Traditional energy sources - coal, oil and gas.
  • Nuclear and fusion
  • Solar
  • Bioenergy
  • Wet renewables - hydro, tidal and wave
  • Wind
  • Geothermal
  • Anaerobic digestion and energy from waste
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Energy storage
  • Energy networks
  • Energy policy
  • Future projections

Workshop (3 hr each, 6 in total)

  1. Energy calculations. Students explore the controls over renewable energy production in a hands-on session. Wind - wind strength and blade type effects; solar - incoming radiation and solar panel angle effects; hydro - flow rate and head effects.
  2. The Department of Energy and Climate Change 2050 energy pathways calculator. Students generate their idealised 2050 energy mix in a PC based workshop and share within groups.
  3. Field visits (10 hr and 3 hr, 13 hrs in total)
  4. A customised tour at Drax coal and biomass power station with the worlds largest desulphurisation plant (free tour, transport costs required).
  5. A seminar by Jan Bastiaans on Lancaster University energy strategy followed by a tour of the biomass boiler, combined heat and power and wind turbine (free tour, no transport costs).
  • Contact time: 34 hrs
  • Reading: 30 hrs (2 hr for every lecture)
  • Reading of contemporary energy issues in the media: 10 hrs (1 hr per week)
  • Preparation of infographic accompanying handbook: 36 hrs
  • Preparation of energy calculation report: 10 hrs
  • Exam and revision: 30 hrs

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 50%
  • Exam: 50%

LEC.370: Hydrological Processes Field Course (Slapton)

  • Terms Taught: Summer Term only
  • US Credits: 4 US credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS credits
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.275, LEC.174 and LEC.181/183 or equivalent

Course Description

This course is based at the Slapton Ley Field Studies Centre, South Devon in the spring or summer, and centres on a study of the hydrological processes governing nitrate eutrophication of Slapton Ley (a coastal, freshwater lake). The course offers the unique opportunity to examine an actual environmental problem - eutrophication, through the integration of field measurements and laboratory analysis. Field measurements will combine qualitative observations with borehole hydraulic testing and some geophysics. Laboratory analysis will include contaminant breakthrough experiments, soil physical properties, nitrate chemistry and topography-based simulation modelling. Understanding of the nitrate chemistry and remediation / protection measures will be reinforced through presentation 'Catchment Sensitive Farming' or other aspects of nutrient management by a visiting speaker.Please note: this field course has limited places and there is a fee.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Assess the hydrological processes occurring within a small catchment
  • Develop skills in measuring the relevant flow and transport parameters
  • Calibrate and evaluate models of flow and transport processes
  • Devise a plan for reducing nitrate inputs into Slapton Ley, and recognise the general applicability to other scenarios

Assessment Proportions

Coursework: 100%

LEC.373: Water Resources Management

  • Terms Taught: Lent Term Only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: College level environmental science.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to introduce the legislative, policy and procedural issues in the management of water resources within England and Wales. It explains the development and operation of regional water supplies and waste-water treatment systems within the context of the UK water industry. It includes 12 hours of lab work.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Apply standard EA statistical procedures to assess chemical water quality.
  • Apply standard EA procedures to assess biological water quality.
  • Identify the strategy for assessing and managing water quality in the UK.
  • Derive simple dilution models to describe pollutant concentrations in river networks.
  • Identify and describe the fundamentals of water treatment processes.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

  • Introduction to module and the UK context of water management
  • Sustainable water management and the Water Framework Directive
  • Water quality standards
  • Chemical water quality assessment
  • Biological water quality assessment
  • Critical load management
  • Water treatment processes I
  • Water treatment processes II
  • Water treatment processes III
  • Diffuse pollution sources, pathways and mitigation
  • Climate change and future water management
  • Synopsis

Workshop/Practical

  • Introduction to EA CWA case study
  • Case study computer workshop
  • Lancaster WWTW site visit
  • Case study computer workshop

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

LEC.374: Volcanic Processes Field Course

  • Terms Taught: Weeks 6-10 of Lent Term and Easter Vacation Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.277 and LEC.377 or equivalent

Course Description

During an intensive week-long field course to an active volcanic region, you will improve your understanding of many of the complex processes that take place both on the surface and beneath volcanoes. This will be achieved by undertaking detailed fieldwork at key localities of a basaltic volcano (Mount Etna). You will also gain experience in hazard analysis and mitigation. The cost in 2014 was £450, but this is subject to change depending on flight costs each year. Numbers are limited, so please enquire as to availability of places.

Educational Aims

Generic Outcomes

  • Use a range of observational, technical, deductive and analytical skills to solve problems in volcanology,
  • Work effectively in groups and as individuals in demanding conditions.

Subject Specific Outcomes

  • Systematically identify volcanic rocks in the field.
  • Use observations and knowledge of field relationships to reconstruct the conditions during the formation of volcanic rocks.
  • Gain a deep understanding of the effusive, explosive and intrusive processes that take place during volcanic eruptions.
  • Recognise the role of regional tectonics, gravitational deformation of the volcano and major slope instabilities on the evolution of basaltic volcanoes.
  • Explain the problems of dealing with volcanic hazards on heavily populated active volcanoes.

Outline Syllabus

Fieldwork: This course allows students to improve their theoretical knowledge of volcanic processes and their  field skills by studying the evolution of a basaltic volcano. It will be a problem-based learning course  in which students will be presented with two levels of problems. The higher level problem (e.g. understanding the plumbing system of a complex volcano or the role of 'volcano spreading' or slope instability in the evolution of volcanoes) will occupy the entire course. Lower level problems will be  solved at a number of key localities where students will be expected to unravel the processes involved. During the course, students will improve their observational and deductive skills, and they will learn how to work both individually and in small groups. Group discussions and group analysis of data form an essential component of this course. In addition to improving their observational and deductive skills, students will learn a number of new field techniques such as the use of GPS and other navigational and mapping methods.

Practicals/Workshops: Most of the relevant hands-on skills will be taught in the field. In addition there will be evening sessions on a range of volcanological topics, as well as theoretical and data interpretation sessions, for example, based on thermal infrared imagery and other important volcanological tools. Three additional tutorials run during the Lent term will introduce many of the concepts that will be explored in more depth in the field.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework: 100%

LEC.375: The Dynamic Earth

  • Terms Taught: Lent Term only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.171 or equivalent, plus college level mathematics and/or physics.

Course Description

This course builds on material covered in LEC.171 to develop a deeper understanding of the Earth's internal structure and dynamics, and interactions between surface (crust/lithosphere) and deep (core/mantle) processes. Several geophysical techniques are described and compared. You will be encouraged to read a variety of journal articles as a basis for discussion of current theories and controversies about how the Earth works. Topics covered include: seismology and seismic tomography; gravity; geomagnetism; heat flow; earthquakes; and plate cycles. The course includes 11 hours of lab work.

Educational Aims

On completion of this module students will be able to: Generic Outcomes

  • Critically review primary research, using standard citation and referencing systems.  
  • Co-operate efficiently to prepare and deliver a group presentation.  
  • Manipulate and solve relevant equations.  
  • Interpret and construct a variety of graphs, maps and diagrams.

Subject Specific Outcomes

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of the principles behind, and applications of, a variety of geophysical techniques.
  • Compare, contrast and synthesise different types of evidence (about how the Earth works).
  • Discuss current theories and debates about how the Earth works (eg. the mantle plume controversy).
  • Use stereonets to determine earthquake focal mechanisms.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures:

  • Earth's shape and gravity
  • Seismological structure and seismic tomography
  • Heat flow and modes of mantle convection
  • Geomagnetism and paleomagnetism
  • Stresses in the lithosphere
  • Past, present and future plate motions

Practical/Workshop

  • 1 x 3 hrs Seismic tomography literature review and group presentations
  • 1 x 2 hrs Numerical problems
  • 1 x 3 hrs Earthquake focal mechanisms
  • 1 x 2 hrs Disccussion and Revision

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

LEC.376: Introduction to Geophysical Techniques

  • Terms Taught: This module runs in weeks 6-10 of Michaelmas Term only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: No pre-requisite, but college level Mathematics, Science or Geography preferred

Course Description

This course introduces the underpinning aspects of geophysical and remote sensing techniques used to investigate the Earth’s surface (eg GPS, laser and radar measurements) and near-surface (eg seismic, gravity, magnetic, radar and electrical methods). Case studies are used to demonstrate the advantages and limitations of different techniques, including their spatial and temporal coverage and resolution. The course includes 12 hours of lab.

Educational Aims

Generic Outcomes

  • Converse with geophysics and remote sensing specialists. 
  • Relate different environmental measurements in terms of coverage and spatial and temporal resolution. 
  • Construct an organised report containing geophysical data

Subject Specific outcomes

  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different geophysical and remote sensing techniques. 
  • Assess appropriate measurement strategies specific environmental problems. 
  • Identify sources of geophysical measurement error.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures:

  • Introduction to traditional geophysical and remote sensing techniques, their advantages and limitations
  • Different technique styles and sampled fields: passive/active, dc/ac
  • Implications of the geophysical characteristics of materials and how they vary
  • Measurement platforms: sub-surface, ground-, air-, space-based instruments.
  • Electrical methods
  • Data processing electrical date
  • Electromagnetic
  • GPR methods
  • Seismic techniques
  • Surface (topographic) measurement (e.g. surveying, GPS, inSAR, LIDAR)
  • Remote sensing from the ground, air and space
  • Case studies ( e.g. contaminated land, water resources)
  • Event detection: Seismics (tectonic and volcanic earthquakes, anthropogenic causes e.g. reservoir filling, nuclear monitoring)
  • Event detection: Other techniques (e.g. electrical techniques, infrasound, deformation monitoring)

Workshops/Practicals:

  • Gravity technique
  • Electrical techniques (field-based)
  • Application of remote sensing

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

LEC.377: Geological Hazards

  • Terms Taught: Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.185 and college level Geology and Mathematics/Physics.

Course Description

This course builds on material covered in LEC.185, and is designed for students who wish to understand more about fundamental geological hazards, the processes responsible, and risk mitigation. Specific hazards addressed are the failure of geological materials (slope stability, rock mechanics, landslides), volcanic hazards (eruption styles, plumes and pyroclastic flows) and earthquakes. It will include case histories of both local and major international disasters and 15 hours of lab and fieldwork.

Educational Aims

At the end of the module, students will have the ability to: 

  • Describe and explain the processes responsible for the occurrence, recurrence and magnitude of geological hazards.
  • Evaluate hazard prediction methods.
  • Discuss risk mitigation strategies, with reference to examples from around the world.
  • Apply simple principles of analysis of slope failure using a variety of natural hazard situations.
  • Demonstrate how simple probabilistic models may be applied to forecasting earthquakes, and discuss the uncertainties inherent in these techniques.
  • Co-operate as a team to produce a professional oral presentation on a geological hazard case study.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures:

  • Earthquakes in slow motion evidence, theories and uncertainties about how faults rupture
  • Geological responses to seismic shaking, including liquefaction processes and hazards
  • Why earthquakes can't be predicted
  • Probabilistic forecasting of earthquakes, and the role of paleoseismology in understanding recurrence patterns
  • Mitigation strategies for earthquakes and tsunami
  • Hazardous slopes and landslides: We set landslide hazards in context by considering Landslide susceptibility and landslide triggers. We consider types of landslides and relationships to triggering mechanisms and types of processes involved.
  • Stress and strength of rocks and engineering soils. We examine the underlying principles of failure in materials, how it can be described and quantified. Cohesion, shear stress and angle of internal friction.
  • Stress analysis in engineering soils and rocks. We examine the Mohr-Colulomb failure criteria and the role of water in failure mechanisms.
  • Predicting landslides: We explore up-scaling issues  of strength (laboratory to landscape scale), and how to use simple principles to predict slope failure. We examine case studies, and mitigation measures.
  • Landslides, volcanoes and mountain building. We examine at the landscape scale the triggering mechanisms and processes of landslides on volcanoes and mountains, with case studies examined.
  • Volcanic Hazards 1  2: Volcanoes are a consequence of heat loss from Earth. Volcanic activity can pose a primary hazard, or on interacting with water, ice and air generate secondary hazards. Here we explore the range of volcanic hazards in terms of physical process, timescale and risk.
  • Rheology of flows: Landslides, debris flows, lahars, mud flows and pyroclastic density currents are all mixtures of rock particles, gas and water. This lecture explores how such a mixture responds to an applied force as a function of grain size, water content and the magnitude of the applied force.
  • Extreme Events 1  2:  There have not been any extreme geological events during recorded human history. Using geological and cosmological insights these lectures consider a range of rare but extreme geological hazards. The long repeat timescales for these events makes them appear remote, and often the subject of 'doomsday' stories, but such extreme events are common in the history of the solar system and will undoubtedly happen again.

Practicals/Workshops:

  • Probabilistic forecasting of earthquakes 
  • Landslide prediction, based on material properties and simple slope models
  • Hekla hazards
  • Case study presentations

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

LEC.378: Global Change and the Earth System

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas term only
  • US Credits: 4 semester credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS
  • Pre-requisites: LEC.175 or equivalent

Course Description

This module is intended for students who wish to learn about the ways in which humans are affecting the chemical and physical composition of the Earth's atmosphere, and about the effects these changes are having on Earth's climate. The aim of the module is to introduce the principal sources, reactions, sinks, control methods and effects of the major air pollutants. This includes gases and aerosol particles. Some of these gases and aerosol particles in the atmosphere also affect global climate, and so the module starts with an examination of the global radiative balance (i.e., climate). The module aims to provide an introduction to the physical processes which control the atmospheric aerosol, and the chemical processes affecting gaseous pollutants, leading to a better understanding of the science behind climate prediction. Includes 9 hours of lab.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate subject specific knowledge, understanding and skills and have the ability to:

  • Calculate a global 2-compartment radiative budget
  • Discuss the major parts of the Earth system and how they interact
  • Describe what an Earth system model is
  • Discuss pollutant sources and sinks

Outline Syllabus

Lectures

Fundamentals of climate change science:

  • Concept of the Earth system
  • Climate dynamics
  • Observations
  • Energy balance
  • Climate sensitivity

Earth system models

  • Construction and application
  • Forward and back projections

Atmospheric composition and climate

  • Tropospheric ozone as a greenhouse gas
  • Aerosols: nature and climate effects
  • Stratospheric ozone depletion and recovery
  • Acid rain

Earth system components and feedbacks

  • Atmosphere, oceans and biosphere
  • Links/feedbacks between the components
  • Volcanoes and atmospheric composition and climate

Practicals

  • Radiative balance of the atmosphere at the Hazelrigg field station
  • Computer exercise visualising climate model data
  • Short presentations related to main coursework

Fieldtrip

Visit the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester (industrial revolution, fossil fuels and climate change) in order to explore the history of carbon emission to the atmosphere as a result of industrial activity based on the exploitation of fossil carbon energy. The timescales of industrial activity and fossil carbon residence times in the atmosphere will be considered.

Assessment Proportions

  • Coursework:  33%
  • Exam:  67%

LEC.379: The Causes and Consequences of Environmental Radioactivity

  • Terms Taught: Lent Term Only.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: College level environmental science.

Course Description

Radioactive contamination of our environment causes levels of concern unlike almost any other pollutant. In this course, you will learn the mechanisms by which radiation damages the body and the systems by which we measure and control exposure to radiation. We will then study the sources of naturally occurring radioactivity and radioactive contaminants to the environment and their behaviour in the environment, in order to better understand how people can become exposed. Thus, you should become better equipped to understand and evaluate the risk to human populations of accidents, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima. It includes ten hours of lab work.

Educational Aims

Generic Outcomes

  • Manipulate and solve basic radioactive decay law equations.
  • Evaluate and synthesise different sources of evidence.

Subject Specific Outcomes

  • Identify the sources of natural and artificial radionuclides in the environment
  • Explain the main processes by which radionuclides are distributed through the environment, illustrating them with examples.
  • Apply the principles of dose assessment to determine the impact of environmental exposure to radioactivity.
  • Evaluate the consequences of nuclear accidents.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures:

  • Introduction to radioactivity
  • Radioactive decay and ingrowth
  • Interactions of radiation with matter
  • Human radiation dose & detriment
  • The effects of ionising radiation
  • Radiation protection in the UK
  • Sources of radioactivity in the environment
  • The nuclear fuel cycle
  • Behaviour of radioactive contaminants in the marine environment
  • Behaviour of radioactive contaminants in the terrestrial environment

Practicals:

  • Radioactive decay and ingrowth
  • Radiation dose estimation
  • Radon in homes

Workshops:

  • Calculation methods

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 67%
  • Coursework: 33%

LEC.380: Climate and Society

  • Terms Taught: Lent Term Only.
  • Also Available: This module is only available in Lent Summer term.
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits.
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits.
  • Pre-requisites: College level environmental science.

Course Description

This module provides a grounding in the science of climate change at the interface between physical and social systems. Specifically, it focuses on the role of climate models in the prediction of risks and damages of anthropogenic climate change, and the use of this information in decision-making. The effects of uncertainty are emphasised throughout the module. Assessment is 100% coursework.

Educational Aims

This module serves to provide the student with grounding in the natural and social science of climate change. It takes a systems view and attempts to foster a critical perspective on the issues, particularly with respect to sustainable development. The handling of uncertainty is emphasised throughout the module.

Outline Syllabus

Lectures:

Climate change science 

Socio-economics of emissions 

Climate change mitigation

Climate change adaptation

Geoengineering

Workshop:

Workshop 1: Keep cool

Workshop 2: Energy use calculations

Workshop 3: Carbon Footprinting

Fieldtrip: Heysham B site visit

Assessment Proportions

Coursework: 100%

LEC.382: Energy: controversies and decision-making

  • Terms Taught: Michaelmas Term only
  • US Credits: 4 Semester Credits
  • ECTS Credits: 8 ECTS Credits
  • Pre-requisites: College level Environmental Science

Course Description

The module aims to demonstrate to students the complexities and controversies in environmental decision making and thus equip them with the ability to contribute. This will involve teaching them the extremes - from grass roots environment pressure groups to top down policy frameworks.

Educational Aims

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Describe, in depth, the different factors which influence energy decision-making, including Government policy, local planning, lobbying, environmental impact assessment and life cycle analysis
  • Outline the roles of different actors involved in energy controversies, including the Government, protest groups, scientists, consultants and planning authorities
  • Discuss a contemporary UK energy issue in terms of the controversies, or potential controversies, that surround it.

Outline Syllabus

Provisioning sufficient energy, taking into account economic, environmental, social and security of supply considerations, is complex. This module will describe in depth the aspects of the energy decision-making process. We will cover Government level policies and local authority planning, lobbying, life cycle analysis, environmental impact assessments and future risks to energy provisioning.

There is emphasis on real world applicability - you will learn about the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee inquiry process and critically analyse environmental impact assessments and associated reports for real energy planning applications.

There will be fourteen lectures and four workshops that will cover controversies, policy, and the information and mechanisms on which decisions are made.

Assessment Proportions

  • Exam: 30%
  • Coursework: 50%
  • Groupwork: 20%