KE7009 - Environmental Protection and Health

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What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about the key environmental stressors that impact upon human health and ecological systems, and the legislative and technological approaches that can be implemented to ameliorate these impacts. You will learn how to design appropriate monitoring strategies for a range of environmental media, including air (ambient, workplace and industrial emissions), water (natural aquatic systems and drinking water) and land (e.g. contaminated land and waste), as well as for the assessment of environmental noise and radioactivity. Synergies between environmental and workplace exposure assessment techniques will be explored wherever appropriate, for example, noise, radon and atmospheric contaminants. You will gain experience of evaluating environmental monitoring data in the context of current research and national and international guidelines on health and ecological effects. You will develop your skills in a range of practical environmental techniques; including field sampling and analysis, laboratory instrumental analytical techniques and environmental modelling software.

How will I learn on this module?

Throughout the module, a case study of an industrial facility (factory) is used as a constant reference for the knowledge and practical elements that you are taught. For example, the impacts of air contaminants are considered from the perspective of industrial emissions from the factory; from workplace exposure of factory staff to hazardous substances; and from exposure of factory staff to ambient air pollutants in their residential areas and as they commute to work (the concept of pollution microenvironments). This also allows you to gain an understanding of the different monitoring techniques and strategies that are appropriate to these scenarios; this is supplemented with hands-on experience of ambient and workplace monitoring. A similar approach is applied to other topics.

Overall, you will find this to be a very interactive module, so as well as lectures and seminars you will be engaged in computer simulations, field sampling, site visits and laboratory sessions. The lectures and seminars are used to impart the key knowledge and concepts whereas the other activities are used to try and ‘bring this material to life’. For example you’ll learn about wastewater treatment techniques in lectures but will then use a computer simulation to design your own sewage treatment works and see how the various design settings affect the efficiency of the treatment process. You will have similar interactive activities for air quality (dispersion modelling and field monitoring), noise (noise survey using a meter) and contaminated land (carrying out a contaminated land survey).

How will I be supported academically on this module?

The interactive activities mentioned above provide the ideal opportunity for staff to provide help and advice on either an individual basis or to small groups, thus ensuring that students have a good working understanding of these key laboratory, field and IT skills. The eLP site will provide you with access to all lecture material and supporting directed readings and case study material.

Teaching staff operate an ‘open door’ policy for students meaning you can approach them anytime during normal office hours, or via email, to answer questions, receive feedback and support your learning on the module.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO 1: Critically evaluate the implications for human health of a range of environmental data across all environmental media.
• MLO 2: Design and critique strategies for the investigation and monitoring of a range of environmental stressors.
• MLO 3: Formulate risk-based remediation or abatement strategies.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 4: Practice, apply and critique a range of professional modelling and monitoring techniques in the fields of air and water quality, contaminated land noise and radioactivity; and to be able to evaluate and communicate the health implications of data arising from such studies.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 5: Demonstrate autonomy, creativity and intellectual curiosity in in the application of knowledge in practical situations and will be able to reflect upon fundamental underlying themes of environmental justice and ethics.

How will I be assessed?

There are three assessments in this module that will contribute to your overall mark:

1. An individual poster on water quality in a local river (30%): this will allow you to concisely report on the chemical and biological sampling carried out along a local river, and to evaluate the data in the context of the requirements of the Water Framework Directive. This assessment addresses MLOs 1, 2, 3 and 4.

2. An individual contaminated land report (40%): you will carry out a contaminated land investigation and write this up as an individual report. The investigation will involve the following stages: (a) desktop study and construction of a site conceptual model, (b) planning and execution of an intrusive investigation, (c) risk assessment, including reference to relevant guidance (Category 4 Screening Levels; CLEA model), (d) a critical evaluation of the options for remediation. This assignment addresses all five MLOs.

3. A report on the preparation and execution of a monitoring protocol for specified airborne contaminants in either a workplace or the ambient environment (30%). This assessment addresses all MLOs.

Formative tasks will be associated with modelling and monitoring exercises that support the lectures. Workbooks will present scenarios and exercises that require a detailed understanding the underlying principles. Such practical activities provide an opportunity for the application of the principles covered in lectures, whilst also having the advantage of providing a variety of approaches to learning.

Written / electronic feedback will be provided individually to each student on each piece of work and with the opportunity to discuss it with the lecturer if needed. Formative feedback is designed into the teaching as part of the activities mentioned above.





Module abstract

Current research suggests that as many as 10% of UK deaths can be attributed to poor air quality in towns and cities, mainly due to nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter emitted from traffic. This is double the estimate of only a few years ago, highlighting the dynamic nature of risk evaluation in just one aspect of environmental protection and the importance of ongoing research to fully characterise risk. In this module you will learn about a range of environmental protection topics including air and water quality, land contamination, waste treatment, noise, odour, radon and potable water. You will have the opportunity to use the same monitoring and modelling techniques used by local authority employers and environmental consultancies and you will learn from tutors who are actively engaged in research in many of the course topic areas.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time
1 other options available

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020

Fee Information

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