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The University of Southampton

CHEM1008 Environmental Chemistry 1: Aquatic Chemistry

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

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.

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 aquatic environmental conditions.
  • Describe how the various aquatic chemical environments arise in nature.
  • Apply a knowledge of the behaviour 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
  • Assess potential environmental impact in the aquatic system
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Working as a member of team to solve a problem
  • Reporting on a case study making use of a variety of sources
  • Referencing the ideas of others within their work.
  • Using students’ theoretical knowledge to solve real-world type problems.


An introduction to the chemistry of the oveall environment and the aquatic environment in particular covering the types of natural waters and differences in their compositions, the hydrological cycle, marine and freshwater systems and introducing the concept of residence times derived from simple box models. Water: Phase diagram of water and the impact on its environmental behaviour - the oddities of water. Acidity of water, 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. Understanding the structures of lakes, seas and the processes involved in lake overturn, specific examples from the Back Sea, Dead Sea and other similarly isolated regions. 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). Analyitcal methods for pollution monitoring and analysis. 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. Plastic pollution of the oceans.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, Workshops, online material, Group problem-based learning (PBL) sessions, Small peer group teaching & evaluation

Preparation for scheduled sessions42
Wider reading or practice40
Completion of assessment task20
Total study time154



MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 60%
Online test 20%
Problem solving 20%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework marks carried forward 40%
Exam 60%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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