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The University of Southampton

ENVS2012 Environmental Instrumentation

Module Overview

Effective monitoring of the environment involves choosing and using the right equipment, and designing an effective data collection strategy, both in terms of the sampling strategy and the technical aspects of collecting, managing and processing that data. In this module you will attend a series of field-visits during which you will learn how to use a range of monitoring equipment used by Environmental Professionals in their day-to-day work. Through workshops you will also learn how to design an instrumentation set-up and deployment strategy, ensuring you work in a safe and ethically sound manner, before setting up your equipment in the field and collecting the data required to answer your question.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The need for both a multi-disciplinary and an interdisciplinary approach in advancing knowledge and understanding of Earth systems, drawing, as appropriate, from the natural and the social sciences.
  • the terminology, nomenclature and classification systems used in environmental science.
  • methods of acquiring, interpreting and analysing environmental science information with a critical understanding of the appropriate contexts for their use.
  • the contribution of environmental science to the development of knowledge of the world we live in.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analysing, synthesising and summarising information critically, including prior research.
  • collecting and integrating several lines of evidence to formulate and test hypotheses.
  • applying knowledge and understanding to complex and multidimensional problems in familiar and unfamiliar contexts.
  • recognising the moral and ethical issues of investigations and appreciating the need for professional codes of conduct.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Receiving and responding to a variety of information sources (eg textual, numerical, verbal, graphical).
  • appreciating issues of sample selection, accuracy, precision and uncertainty during collection, recording and analysis of data in the field and laboratory.
  • preparing, processing, interpreting and presenting data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and packages including geographic information systems.
  • using the internet critically as a means of communication and a source of information.
  • identifying individual and collective goals and responsibilities and performing in a manner appropriate to these roles.
  • recognising and respecting the views and opinions of other team members.
  • evaluating performance as an individual and a team member.
  • developing the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (eg working independently, time management and organisation skills).
  • developing an adaptable and flexible approach to study and work.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Collecting, recording and analysing data using appropriate techniques in the field and laboratory.
  • undertaking field and laboratory investigations in a responsible and safe manner, paying due attention to risk assessment, rights of access, relevant health and safety regulations, and sensitivity to the impact of investigations on the environment and stakeholders.
  • referencing work in an appropriate manner.


A series of field trips will demonstrate how environmental monitoring equipment is used for a wide range of purposes. This may include, but is not limited to, time-lapse and motion sensor cameras, weather monitoring instrumentation, air quality monitoring and remotely sensed data. Your practical skills will be developed by building and deploying an instrument array, to collect data enabling you to solve a particular monitoring challenge. Working in a pair you will meet regularly with your supervisor (and any external partners, if appropriate) to develop a solution to the monitoring problem set. A series of workshop sessions will guide you through the various stages of project development from conception to data analysis.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module uses a range of teaching and learning methods, however the majority of contact time is “hands-on” – be that designing and setting up equipment in the field, analysing data in the lab or attending field visits to a range of monitoring sites. Students will be expected to spend a significant amount of time outside formal sessions to continue project builds and deployment. Student work will be supported through a series of workshops where tips and tricks will be shared. Peer learning is a key feature of this module and the project is an opportunity to develop team working skills.

Completion of assessment task90
Wider reading or practice8
Preparation for scheduled sessions8
Follow-up work8
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Individual report 70%
Quick start guide 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual report 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal


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

The costs for field visits are covered within programme costs; there are no additional costs for the student. Requirements for suitable clothing and footwear are specified in the Risk Assessment for field visits; students are expected to provide these themselves. This may include but is not limited to appropriate footwear (i.e. walking boots or wellington boots as required), waterproof jackets and trousers and warm clothing suitable for working outdoors.

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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