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The University of Southampton

ENVS6003 Freshwater Ecosystems

Module Overview

Freshwater Ecosystems initially considers the interplay between the physics, chemistry and biology of freshwater ecosystems. A comparative approach is adopted, in which upland streams, lowland rivers, lakes and other standing freshwater environments are considered. Emphasis is placed on the relationships between physics, chemistry and biology, and the differences in these relationships in contrasting freshwater environments. Theoretical aspects are supported by case study seminars. The module finishes by examining the interactions of humans with freshwater ecosystems, with emphasis on impacts and management.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Full appreciation 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
  • Deep understanding of the processes which shape the natural world at different temporal and spatial scales and their influence on and by human activities
  • Strong familiarity with the terminology, nomenclature and classification systems used in environmental science
  • Comprehensive understanding of the contribution of environmental science to knowledge
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
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Handling and integrating multiple information sources across multiple platforms, including working with databases in the broadest sense
  • Preparing, processing, interpreting and presenting data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and packages including geographic information systems to a level suitable for publication
  • Using the internet critically as a means of communication and a source of information
  • Developing the advanced skills needed for self-managed learning (e.g. handling multiple conflicting deadlines; responding rapidly and effectively to change; acquiring self-management and organisation skills)
  • Developing an adaptable and flexible approach to study and work especially to meet targets and deadlines
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 at the level of competence expected of a junior researcher or consultant
  • Referencing work to a very high, prescribed standard as expected in a manuscript sent for publication


Topics typically consider: Introduction to Freshwater Ecosystems. Structural and functional ecology of standing and running waters. Interactions between human and freshwater ecosystems, including impacts, restoration and management.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The module is delivered through lecture and seminar sessions. The sessions will be delivered by the module leader with some contributions from others, typically providing case studies to reinforce and extend learning. Learning activities include - Attendance at lectures and seminars. - Self-directed learning - supplementary and complementary to lecture materials. - Private study – research for and preparation of module assignment. - Attendance at a field visit – observations of degradation of urban standing waters (optional)

Preparation for scheduled sessions14
Wider reading or practice40
Follow-up work10
Completion of assessment task20
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 50%
Written assessment  (3000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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