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The University of Southampton

ENVS6006 Water Pollution

Module Overview

An understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes involved during contamination of water is essential if society is going to effectively monitor and control the effects of pollution using modern technology and engineering practices. A huge range of pollutants may be released into the aquatic environment during everyday domestic, leisure, industrial and commercial activities and many of these contaminants are potentially harmful to human health and the environment. In this module, we will focus on the origins, pathways and consequences of anthropogenic pollutants in the environment as well as discussing the various approaches to pollution control and remediation. Students will use their knowledge and skills to complete assignments that will test the learning outcomes for the module. This module does not have any pre-requisites, but some background in chemistry and biology is preferred. Students will be required to perform mathematical activities.

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 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 debate on environmental issues and how knowledge of these forms the basis for informed concern about the Earth and its people
  • 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 (e.g. textual, numerical, verbal, graphical)
  • Developing the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (e.g. working independently, time management and organisation skills)
  • Identifying and working towards targets for personal, academic and career development
  • 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
  • Referencing work in an appropriate manner


The module comprises a course of lectures, seminars and workshops that provide a scientific understanding of pollution in the environment by examination and evaluation of contemporary pollution issues. A broad range of topics is covered, including: • Conceptual frameworks for environmental pollution incidents – definitions and classification. • Sources and transport of pollutants. • Principles of pollution assessment, representative sampling, sample storage and treatment, and sampling procedures. • Fresh and marine water pollutants • Consequences of sewage pollution: treatment, disposal and impacts • Nutrients and eutrophication. • Oil pollution in the marine environment. • Biological pollutants. • Plastics as pollutants. • Metals as pollutants. • Summary and conclusions, revision and feedback The module emphasises the origins, environmental pathways and consequences of anthropogenic pollutants. Some sessions of the lecture programme are intended to complement other lecture material by illustrating topics of interest and providing additional context. Workshops and seminars will allow topics to be explored in depth via case studies as well as giving students practice at solving pollution calculations and problems.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The unit will be delivered by lecture, workshop and seminar sessions. The sessions will be delivered by the course co-ordinator and other specialist contributors from Engineering and the Environment. Learning activities include: • Attendance at lecture, workshop and seminar sessions. • Self-directed learning - supplementary and complementary to lecture materials. This will include problem-solving exercises and quizzes delivered via Blackboard. • Private study – research for and preparation of module assignment.

Preparation for scheduled sessions5
Wider reading or practice20
Completion of assessment task40
Practical classes and workshops9
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Referral Method - Students will have 2 weeks to complete and submit the examination. A minimum mark of 50% overall on the open book examination is required for the student to pass the referral assessment.


MethodPercentage contribution
Assessment 50%
Take-away exam 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Take-away exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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