KE7029 - Environmental Monitoring

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn how to plan and implement measurements to assess the status of the natural environment. You will learn how to develop appropriate sampling strategies and how to conduct a wide range of methods spanning chemical, physical and biological to gain a thorough understanding of the environment. You will develop a broad range of highly employable skills in collection, modelling and analysis of environmental and socially important data-sets.

Key topics include:

Atmosphere and Air Quality: - How to monitor air quality and climate conditions, and determine if pollutant concentrations could be considered harmful to people. You will become skilled in how to monitor an outbreak of air pollution, and how to apply atmospheric dispersion modelling systems (ADMS) within a GIS environment. You will gain experience in measuring concentrations and isotopic composition on climate
relevant greenhouse gases (e.g. CO2 & CH4). Research examples of GES staff research in applying these techniques will be presented (e.g. application of air pollution monitoring across Newcastle city centre and greenhouse gas tracing in the Arctic).

Contaminated Land and Hydrology: - You will gain skills in assessing land and river state, specifically associated with toxic elements and their behaviour in the environment (e.g. food contamination). You will learn how to assess ecological status in land and waters and their context of national and EU frameworks (e.g. UK water framework directive). You will gain highly employable skills in ‘R’ language coding and use these techniques to assess flood risk assessments.

Coasts and Cliffs: You will learn how to monitor changes in cliff and coastlines using state-of-the-art structure for motion (SfM) mapping of drone data, and how to apply these skills to diverse datasets tracking threats to critical infrastructure (e.g. roads and people) or natural environment (erosion from sea-level rise). You will create digital terrain models using a variety of contemporary platforms in order to monitoring change, e.g. cliff erosion. Research examples of GES staff research applying these techniques to determine coastal retreat rates across North East coastlines, and to assess landslide risks to critical infrastructure will be provided for context.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn primarily via a range of seminars and hands-on practical sessions with industry and research grade instrumentation. These will be supplemented with staff-supported computer and laboratory practical’s or demonstrations, and independent online tutorials that will provide deeper understanding of how to analyse, model and interpret your findings.

Seminars will cover key skills in how to successfully plan and conduct monitoring to ensure collection of data of high-quality and which adequately reflects the environment being measured.

During short field trips you will deploy a wide variety of instrumentation (e.g. fly a drone, deploy digital loggers etc) and learn how to retrieve and safeguard your findings. You will visit long-term monitoring deployments both locally and during the Arctic fieldtrip, and work on datasets collected from these (e.g. from hydrological monitoring set-ups). Module specific fieldwork will be conducted locally (e.g. Gosforth Park) or within walking distance. All costs associated with coach travel will be covered by the programme. You will use the excellent analytical facilities in our department to decipher the source and toxicity of complex environmental samples, during computer practical’s you will develop skills in processing, modelling and synthesising large monitoring datasets. You will specifically learn ‘R’ language programming skills, and apply these to deal with and analyse large datasets.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Formative feedback will be provided to individuals and groups during practical hands-on and computer-based sessions. Student-led seminars will actively promote peer and staff feedback; an authentic approach most like that taken in developing environmental monitoring programmes in industry or research. Small group sizes will ensure an immersive, collaborative setting.

Drop-in workshops will be offered during which formative feedback will be provided on poster progress, as part of the summative assessment.

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: * MLO1: critically evaluate and apply appropriate monitoring types and be aware of the uncertainties associated with them. * MLO2: demonstrate how monitoring approaches are used to gain detailed understanding of environmental processes and changes. Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities: * MLO3: select appropriate monitoring strategies to assess diverse environmental challenges and questions. * MLO4: demonstrate ability to set-up, collect and interpret monitoring datasets. Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA): * MLO5: effective communication of the results of monitoring in a consultancy-style report to clearly communicate results and develop recommendations based on findings.

How will I be assessed?

You will need to produce one summative assessment consisting of an environmental consultancy report (4 pages). Your report can cover any one of the three key topics covered. Your report will be expected to include a clear presentation of monitoring data, quantitative analysis of the results and considered interpretation taking into account understanding of the monitoring objectives and data quality. This assessment addresses all module MLO’s. The opportunity for formative feedback will be provided in advance of the final submission. This will be in the form of personal one to one sessions, to critique a draft report and provide follow up improvements.





Module abstract

This module will teach you how to plan, implement and harness monitoring techniques across a wide range of topical subjects in environmental geosciences. These key skills will enable you to gain a thorough understanding of the chemical, physical and biological environment and equip you with highly employable skills appropriate for environmental research or consultancy (e.g. environment agency or environmental engineer). You will gain access and hands-on experience with state-of-the-art analytical and monitoring equipment commonly employed within industry and research, and learn how to process, safely store and interpret monitoring data. The module will provide you with a large amount of hands-on experience and is assessed with the completion of a consultancy report based on one of the three main topics
covered (Atmosphere & Air Quality, Contaminated Land & Hydrology, Coasts & Cliffs).

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Full Time

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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