The University of Southampton

ENVS2013 Practical Environmental Monitoring

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 design the instrumentation set-up and deployment, 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. Exercises will include designing and building your own field equipment for deployment. During the design and data collection phase, you will work in a team with another student, supporting each other with the technical and health & safety aspects of the project. Finally, working individually, you will process and analyse the data before presenting it in a report.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module aims to provide you with the skills to be able to set up an instrument array, collect and analyse the data and then present the results.

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 processes which shape the natural world at different temporal and spatial scales and their influence on and by human activities.
  • 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:

  • Recognising and using subject-specific theories, paradigms, concepts and principles.
  • 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) .
  • 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.
  • communicating appropriately to a variety of audiences in written, verbal and graphical forms.
  • 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.
  • solving numerical problems using computer and non-computer-based techniques.
  • 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.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Planning, conducting, and reporting on environmental investigations, including the use of secondary data.
  • 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.


This module focuses on the practical skills of how to build and deploy instrumentation, then use it collect and process data 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 seminars and workshop sessions will guide students through the various stages of project development from conception to data analysis.

Special Features

For students with specials needs, an individual assessment with be made and appropriate arrangements made to ensure they are enabled to benefit from the exercise or an equivalent experience.

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, or analysing data in the lab. 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 seminars and group project supervisory meetings 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 task30
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Follow-up work20
Supervised time in studio/workshop8
Project supervision8
Wider reading or practice25
Total study time140



Individual report


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual report 90%
Project Independence 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual report 90%
Project Independence 10%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

Linked modules

Internally only repeat year as the module has substantial build and field elements so it is not possible to repeat externally.


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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