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The University of Southampton

CENV3059 Urban Water and Wastewater Engineering

Module Overview

The module covers two main themes. One looks at the types of process that are used to purify water to a standard acceptable for distribution. The subject material is taught so as to give a fundamental understanding of the physical, chemical and biological mechanisms involved in these operations. These include: coagulation and precipitation, sedimentation, filtration and disinfection. Water quality standards relevant to water use are briefly reviewed, along with the rationale for the adoption of such standards from the perspective of protection of public health. The other part of the module looks at the sources and types of wastewater that are generated by an industrialised society, with a focus on urban wastewaters. These are considered from the viewpoint of how treatment is carried out so as to prevent environmental damage upon discharge. The taught element of the course covers the various unit operations concerned with the preliminary, primary and secondary treatment of municipal wastewaters: treatment of industrial wastewaters is also briefly mentioned as similar technologies are used, and any differences from municipal wastewater are highlighted. The treatment of the biosolids generated as a result of wastewater treatment is critically analysed in relation to the final disposal options.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • A water or wastewater treatment process flow sheet (contributes to AHEP EA4 and D4).
  • The chemical and biological principles behind unit processes used in water and wastewater treatment (contributes to AHEP SM1).
  • The management of residuals from water and wastewater treatment (contributes to AHEP D2 and EL4).
  • Appropriate treatment methods for municipal and certain industrial effluents (contributes to AHEP EA2, D2 and P2).
  • How water and wastewater treatment plants operate (contributes to AHEP EA1 and P2).
  • Simple design equations for water and wastewater treatment plant (contributes to AHEP EA1 and EA3).
  • Standards that are applied to drinking water (contributes to AHEP D1, D3, P7 and P8).
  • Standards that are applied to wastewater treatment plant effluents (contributes to AHEP D1, D3, P7 and P8).
  • Standards that are applied to sludge arising from water and wastewater treatment processes (contributes to AHEP D1, D3, P7 and P8).
  • The fundamental scientific processes underlying the design and operation of water and wastewater treatment plant (contributes to AHEP SM1).
  • The concept of a unit operation and a unit process (contributes to AHEP SM1).
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Select a suitable series of unit processes for a particular water or wastewater type (contributes to AHEP EA4 and D4).
  • Critically analyse problems that may arise in the operation of water and wastewater treatment plant (contributes to AHEP SM6).
  • Appraise and use in the correct context design equations for the design and operation of water and wastewater treatment plant (contributes to AHEP EA2 and EA6).
  • Formulate approaches to treat water and wastewater in the most cost effective manner (contributes to AHEP SM3, EA5, D4 and P2).
  • Recognise limitations to process design of water and wastewater treatment processes (contributes to AHEP SM4, P4 and P9).
  • Recognise water and effluent treatment processes as a key part of our engineered infrastructure (contributes to AHEP SM3, EL2 and EL4).
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Rearrange equations and simple mathematical formula (contributes to AHEP EA3 AND G1)
  • Develop time management skills (contributes to AHEP G2 and G3)
  • Develop independent learning skills (contributes to AHEP D3)
  • Interpret numerical data (contributes to AHEP EA3, D3 and D4)
  • Find key reference material in libraries and on-line resources (contributes to AHEP D3 and G1)
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Prepare an outline flow sheet and process design for a conventional water or wastewater treatment plant (contributes to AHEP D4)


WATER TREATMENT: 1. Overview of water resources and water supply 2. Water quality standards 3. Raw water characteristics and quality criteria 4. Conventional water treatment methods including: - Physical - screening, filtration, settlement - Chemical - coagulation, disinfection - Water treatment process selection and design - Maintenance of water quality in distribution - Emerging options and applications e.g. desalination WASTEWATER TREATMENT: 1. Introduction to wastewater collection, handling and disposal systems 2. Classification and types of wastewater 3. The concept of unit operations for wastewater treatment 4. Basic process flow sheeting - Preliminary and primary treatment operations - Secondary treatment including biological processes 5. Wastewater treatment plant design and process selection

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The main teaching and learning methods are lectures and problem-solving coursework supported by tutorial sessions. Basic flowsheeting exercises are also included. The lecture course introduces the basic unit processes that are used in the treatment of water and wastewater, the standards applied, and the issues associated with residuals management. Because of the nature of the course, reading and viewing of additional material is recommended, associated both with the general aspects of the course and to back up individual lectures. A number of web-based resources in the form of presentations and additional reading materials are provided to help reinforce the basic material covered in the lecture course.

Wider reading or practice20
External visits4
Follow-up work24
Completion of assessment task30
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Coursework Assessment - on water and wastewater treatment plant including numerical problems. Referral Method - Open book examination: i.e. a set of questions completed over a specified period (normally 3 weeks) during the summer vacation, during which time the candidates are allowed access to lecture notes and other reference materials. The examination paper is sent to candidates by email and posted on Blackboard. The completed script must be submitted by a specified date through the coursework system. The questions resemble typical questions from previous examination papers, but the candidate is required to attempt all of them.


MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 60%
Final Assessment  40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

Please refer to Appendix 4 of the Programme Specification for information regarding additional costs. In addition to the additional costs listed within the Programme Specification, the following additional costs may apply to this module: Field trip to wastewater treatment plant. The cost of coach travel is covered within the programme costs. Students are normally expected to supply personal protective equipment (PPE - hard hat, safety boots and hi-viz vest or jacket): but note that most students already have this from participation in the Constructionarium, and a small number of visiting students or those who forget to bring PPE can usually be accommodated.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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