Environmental Monitoring and Analysis

Module summary

Module code: ENVI1174
Level: 5
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Conor Walsh

Specification

Aims

• To make students aware of the range of techniques that can be applied to the monitoring and analysis of the environment and environmental pollution;
• To give an understanding of the complementary nature of physical/chemical analytical techniques and biological/ecological methodologies for monitoring pollution; familiarise students with the various methods of field study appropriate to a range of ecological situations through both theoretical and practical field-based exercises;
• To provide a practical understanding of the biological and ecological responses of living organisms to environmental stress, and the use of living organisms as biological indicators or monitors of such stresses including pollution.
• The course will act as a springboard for those intending to take an analytically focussed independent project at Level 6 and provide a theoretical and practical appreciation of chemical environmental analysis for practitioners working in the fields of environmental science and environmental consulting.

Learning outcomes

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

1 Engage with, and begin to critically reflect on, a wide range of current academic research literature in the field of environmental monitoring;
2 Understand how to develop good procedures for project design, analytical strategy and sampling, drawing on concepts such as accuracy, precision, error and validation;
3 Plan, carry out and interpret the results of an ecological monitoring exercise;
4 Undertake appropriate laboratory investigative procedures for the preparation and analysis of common environmental materials for their organic and/or trace metal constituent.

Indicative content

The course content includes topics focusing on the importance of environmental monitoring in obtaining and assessing raw data and as well as the use of appropriate laboratory investigative methods for assessing environmental data.

1) Demonstrating the fundamental processes of ecological monitoring through the use of appropriate desk study exemplars, this is supported by a practical monitoring exercise incorporating data gathering and analysis, such as a Lichen survey;
2) Design of effective sampling strategies to ensure representative methods of field sampling, preserving sample integrity and reducing risk of bias;
3) Use of bio-indicators to illustrate the effects of pollutants and other environmental stresses with a special focus on aquatic ecological systems;
4) Practical environmental analytic techniques including preparatory laboratory procedures, assessing the risk of sample modification and contamination;
5) Advantages and limitations of common organic and inorganic analytical techniques.

Teaching and learning activity

Delivery of the course will be through (3 x 12 hour) face to face lectures and instrumental/practical demonstrations, coupled with directed reading from journals and other scholarly sources. Exposure to relevant tools and methodologies is facilitated through both field work and laboratory sessions. Assessment of learning outcomes will be achieved via a critical literature review essay set as a piece of coursework to be submitted during the course and through laboratory reports based on a series of practical sessions.

Assessment

Method of SUMMATIVE assessment: Essay
Outcomes assessed:1,2,3
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :50%
Passmark: 40%
Word Length:1500
Outline Details: Critical evaluation of the application of specified bio-indicators in the monitoring of environmental impact and ecosystem health.

Method of SUMMATIVE assessment: Practical Laboratory reports
Outcomes assessed: 1-4
Grading Mode (e.g. pass/ fail; %): %
Weighting % :50%
Passmark: 40%
Word Length: n/a
Outline Details: Reporting on laboratory analysis and interpretation of a data derived through practical analytic techniques.

Nature of FORMATIVE assessment supporting student learning:
Discussion and feedback through class interaction and questions including during practical sessions.
Focused discussion during dedicated session on critical evaluation essay, relevant to first item of assessment.