Environmental Impact Assessment

Module summary

Module code: ENVI0303
Level: 6
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Deborah Bartlett



This course aims to explain the nature of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and give a detailed knowledge of the operation of EIA procedures in the UK.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) can be described as a decision-making tool, a legislative instrument and a formalised environmental management process. It exists to enable precautionary measures to be incorporated into project and policy planning for the protection of environmental and human systems prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made. This is an introductory course highlighting some of the methods used to predict environmental impacts, and to see how these may be used to integrate environmental factors into decisions. The regulatory requirements for statutory EIA, the methodologies commonly used in its preparation, its relationship with development decisions and the ways in which it can contribute to sustainable development will be examined.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 Plan, design, interpret and critically reflect on a range of assessment (socio-economics; traffic and transport; landscape and visual impact; ecology) tasks employed in EIA.

2 Critically review the EIA process as implemented in a range of countries.

3 Critically assess the overall quality of an Environmental Statement produced as part of a ‘real-life’ project.

4 Contribute effectively to working as part of a team.

Indicative content

Overview and historical development of Environmental Impact Assessment; Nature of EIA, EIA process, evaluation of EIA systems; Implementation of EIA in the UK EIA systems in other countries. EIA tasks, methods and techniques; coverage of alternatives, screening and scoping; Introduction to assessment methodologies: Checklists & Matrices; prediction of impacts and preparation of EIA reports; environmental statement production; consultation and public participation in EIA; mitigation and decision making in EIA; monitoring and post-auditing. Extension of EIA to policies, plans and programmes (Strategic Environmental Assessment - SEA). SEA principles; SEA status worldwide; links between SEA, environmental impact assessment, and strategic decision-making.

Best practice methodologies in a range of impact areas, including: Socio-economic assessment; Ecological Assessment; Landscape and Visual Impact assessment; Transport Assessment. Review of Environmental Statements.

Teaching and learning activity

The course will use a combination of formal teaching and student-centred activities. There will be extensive use of structured learning materials in the early stages supplemented by class seminars, followed by formal teaching, primarily through lectures, desk exercises and tutorials which will serve to introduce students to the various aspects involved in carrying out an EIA. The desk exercises will comprise a range of formative exercises building up to give students an appreciation of the skills necessary in undertaking effective EIA and contributing to enable the students to critically assess relevant documents.


Methods of SUMMATIVE Assessment: Group Presentation
Outcome(s) assessed by summative assessment: 2, 3, 5
Grading Mode: Numeric
Weighting: 50%
Pass Mark: 40%
Word Length 500
Outline Details: Groups will be assigned a country and will research the development of EIA and deliver a 15 minute presentation using examples. This will be accompanied by a brief summary with details of sources

Methods of SUMMATIVE Assessment: Individual Critical Review
Outcome(s) assessed by summative assessment: 2,
Grading Mode: Numeric
Weighting: 50%
Pass Mark: 40%
Word Length: 2500
Outline Details : This will critically review a current Environmental Statement

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning:
Assignment 1: group tutorials focusing on progress and planning for the group presentation.
Assignment 2: outline structures of the review are submitted for feedback