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Module FXX-3101:
Pollution and Environment

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Lorrie Murphy

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To familiarise the students with the problems associated with inorganic pollutants and to instil knowledge on methods of quantification and remediation in that context.
  2. To get students working as part of a team inorder to select a inorganic pollution topic and agree tasks and outputs in the form a report and group presentation.
  3. The aim of the second part of this unit is to introduce to the students the principles of chemical sensors. Different types of chemical sensors are discussed and examples of some will be demonstrated.
  4. To introduce students to the ways in which organic molecules are introduced into the environment, how they then interact with it, and how they are subsequently modified and removed.

Course content

The course covers a range of topics on inorganic and organic pollutants with emphasis on sensing, measurements and amelioration strategies. The course is taught as a combination of course work and traditional lectures. The focus will be: identification of pollutants; measurement of their concentrations; techniques to deal with pollutants.

Course Team: Dr L Murphy (16 workshops - inorganic pollutants), Dr C Gwenin (8 lectures, sensors), Dr Hongyun Tai (8 lectures, organic pollutants).

RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS ESSENTIAL READING none RECOMMENDED READING 1. Environmental Chemistry, A global perspective by Gary W vanLoon and Stephen J Duffy (2010) 2. Environmental Chemistry, 9th Ed., S E Manahan, 2009 3. Principles of Chemical Sensors, J Janata 2nd Ed. 2009 4. Chemical Sensors, Robert W. Cattral (OUP Chemistry Primer) SPECIFIC RESOURCE IMPLICATIONS FOR STUDENTS None

Assessment Criteria


Threshold (40%). Knowledge and understanding of the content covered in the course is basic; Problems of a routine nature are generally adequately solved; Standard laboratory experiments are usually carried out with reasonable success though significance and limitations of experimental data and/or observations may not be fully recognised; Transferable skills are at a basic level.


Good (~60%). Knowledge base covers all essential aspects of subject matter dealt with in the programme and shows good evidence of enquiry beyond this. Conceptual understanding is good. Problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature are solved in a logical manner; solutions are generally correct and acceptable. Experimental work is carried out in a reliable and efficient manner, with a good appreciation of data analysis shown in write-ups. Performance in transferable skills is sound and shows no significant deficiencies.


Excellent (>70%). Knowledge base is extensive and extends well beyond the work covered in the programme. Conceptual understanding is outstanding. Problems of a familiar and unfamiliar nature are solved with efficiency and accuracy; problem-solving procedures are adjusted to the nature of the problem. Experimental work are exemplary and show a through analysis and appraisal of experimental results, with appropriate suggestions for improvement. Performance in transferable skills is generally very good.

Learning outcomes

  1. Students should be able to:- to produce an brief report on a selected subtopic relating to an (mutual) inorganic pollutant.

  2. Students should be able to present a synopsis of aspects their report in a verbal form (induvidual presentation) within a group presentation slot that covers: background chemistry; analysis; remediation of 'their' inorganic pollutant.

  3. Students should be able to function as an integral part of a small (3 to 4 persons) team and reflect upon their own as well as others contributions.

  4. Students should be able to explain the principles that control the operation of chemical sensors

  5. Students should be able to assess the advantages and limitations of different sensors.

  6. Students should be able to understand the effect of structure on chemical and biodegradation.

  7. Students should have an awareness of commercially available sensors.

  8. Studnets should be able to recognise the ways in which organic molecules interact with air, land and water.

  9. Students should be able to recognise the typical functional groups present in exogenous organics and how these react in a variety of situations.

  10. Students should be able to understand for particular examples the reasons for a toxic effect.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
REPORT Report-Inorganic pollution 19.8
EXAM Examination 67
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION Presentation (Induvidual) 9.9
COURSEWORK Team Peermarking 3.3

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Group Project

This module has 19 h lecture slots devoted to inorganic pollutant topics which involve group interactions/workshops and student presentations.


This module has 16 h of formal lectures (8 h on chemical sensors, 8h on organic pollutants).

Private study

private study/literature searching/data retrieval, 65 hours.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team

Subject specific skills

  • CC6 Skills in communicating scientific material and arguments
  • CC7 Information technology and data-processing skills, relating to chemical information and data.
  • PS1 Communication skills, covering both written and oral communication with a variety of audiences
  • PS2 Skills in the employment of common conventions and standards in scientific writing, data presentation, and referencing literature
  • PS5 Information location and retrieval skills, in relation to primary and secondary information sources, and the ability to assess the quality of information accessed
  • PS7 Basic interpersonal skills, relating to the ability to interact with other people and to engage in teamworking
  • PS8 Time management and organisational skills, as evidenced by the ability to plan and implement efficient and effective ways of working
  • PS11 Problem-solving skills including the demonstration of self-direction, initiative and originality
  • PS12 The ability to communicate and interact with professionals from other subjects
  • PS15 The ability to think critically in the context of data analysis and experimental design
  • SK5 Demonstrate an understanding of the qualitative and quantitative aspects of chemical metrology and the importance of traceability
  • SK1 Are fully conversant with major aspects of chemical terminology
  • SK2 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of fundamental physicochemical principles with the ability to apply that knowledge to the solution of theoretical and practical problems
  • SK3 Gain knowledge of a range of inorganic and organic materials
  • SK6 Develop an awareness of issues within chemistry that overlap with other related subjects
  • SK7 Develop knowledge and understanding of ethics, societal responsibilities, environmental impact and sustainability, in the context of chemistry
  • SK9 Read and engage with scientific literature
  • PS9 skills needed to undertake appropriate further training of a professional nature

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: