The University of Southampton

CHEM1008 Environmental Chemistry 1: Aquatic Chemistry

Module Overview

The primary aim of this course is to provide a sound understanding of the chemistry within the aquatic environment and the techniques involved in predicting the behaviour of both natural and pollutant species. The module is available as an optional/elective module to students who have completed A-level Chemistry or an equivalent.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Predict the behaviour of environmentally important chemicals under typical environmental conditions.
  • Describe how various chemical enviroments arise in nature.
  • Apply a knowledge of the behavious of individual components in a system to explain real-world aquatic environmental chemistries.
  • Discuss how the presence of individual species, and their interactions, will affect the overall chemistry of a complex environmental system and the affect these will have on the ecosystem
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Structured planning of an extended piece of coursework.
  • Reporting on a topic for a specific target audience, in the form of a magazine article.
  • Referencing the ideas of others within their work.
  • Using students’ theoretical knowledge to solve real-world type problems.


An introduction to the aquatic environment. Types of natural waters and differences in their compositions, hydrologic cycle, marine and freshwater systems and residence times. Water: Phase diagram of water and the impact on its environmental behavior - the oddities of water. Acidity of water. Autoprotolysis, levelling, the hydronium ion and hydrogen bonded structures, calculating the pH of solution through mass balance/charge balance approach. Example of Carbonic acid using graphical representations of species changes with pH, gas partitioning into solution. Henry's Law, calculation of pH of rainwater, Lake Nyos. Acid deposition. Sources and effects of acidification, e.g.the release of metal toxins by acid precipitation. Carbonate mineral dissolution and pH buffering control (Lake Orta). Redox phenomena in environmental chemistry. Solubility of gases. Redox reactions and the Nernst equation. PE - pH stability diagrams and the Camelford incident. Wastewater treatment. Removal of colloidal matter. Drinking water purification.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, Group problem based learning sessions, Small peer group teaching & evaluation

Completion of assessment task60
Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Wider reading or practice40
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 20%
Coursework plan 10%
Essay 60%
Online test 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%
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