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The University of Southampton

ENVS6011 Environmental Management Systems

Module Overview

Environmental Management Systems is a postgraduate module that aims not only to provide students with academic knowledge of the subject area, but also to provide practical experience of designing environmental management systems through working in partnership with a ‘real-life’ client organisation. The emphasis is on discussion and group exercises. Students are encouraged to participate in debates as opposed to traditional lecture-based classes. Students work in consultancy groups to produce an Environmental Management System (EMS) manual for large professional organisations that meets the requirements of the international standard ISO14001. Weekly formative consultancy presentations allow student consultancy groups, managed by and the module coordinator, to give immediate feedback on each group’s progress, building their confidence for the development of the assessed EMS manual. The second assessment involves each group conducting a full ISO14001 audit where leading practitioners act as the certification body, with immediate feedback upon completion of the assessment. Each student group then formally presents their work to the client’s board of directors. These high-pressure, real-life experiences are invaluable in training students to become skilled practitioners in environmental management whilst significantly improving their employment prospects. At the end of the module, clients receive an EMS that meets the requirements of the international standard ISO14001. The students have a sophisticated professional level understanding of their subject through the feedback and assessment process, experience of working for a client in a professional capacity, and a consultancy standard addition to their CVs.

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
  • Methods of acquiring, interpreting and analysing environmental science information with a critical understanding of the appropriate contexts for their use
  • Issues concerning the availability and sustainability of resources, for example, the different value sets relating to the Earth's resources as commodities and/or heritage
  • 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
  • The applicability of environmental science to the world of work
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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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 (e.g. working independently, time management and organisation skills)
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


Environmental Management Systems offers an in-depth study of the relationship between organisations and the environment. We shall examine how the implementation of an Environmental Management System (EMS) may reduce the impact of industry on the environment and ultimately lead to increased commercial advantage. We will also develop an EMS for a client that meets the requirements of the International Standard ISO14001. The unit begins with a look at the theory behind corporate environmental management, and how organisations react to environmental pressures. This is followed by a basic introduction to the international standard ISO 14001. The unit is structured around this standard and it is important that students become familiar with its content. After the introduction to the subject we explore how a company may perform an initial review of its operations and identify the primary legislation that may influence the content of an EMS. A detailed study of how companies measure their environmental performance in terms of their overall activity and individual products forms an integral part of the unit, and will involve a professional training session. This will be followed by an examination of the design and implementation of an environmental policy, through to the publication of an environmental statement. The programmes to operate an EMS are covered along with a discussion of how a company may train their staff and internally communicate their environmental procedures, followed by instruction on how to audit the systems. The unit will conclude with an audit of the group environmental management systems in the form of an external certification audit. A typical timetable is dependent upon the case study organisation, but might look as follows:: Weeks 1-3: Introduction to EMS and identification skills Weeks 4-10: EMS investigation and development Weeks 11-12: Certification audits Week 13: Module Summary

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Lectures • Discussion and feedback sessions • Case study workshop • Student presentations • Industrial site visits The module is be delivered by lecture and workshop sessions, with an emphasis on student discussion and group exercises. Students are required to participate in debates at all times. The lectures will be delivered by the module lead. The workshops and student presentations are student led with continual feedback from the module lead.

External visits2
Completion of assessment task72
Preparation for scheduled sessions12
Wider reading or practice10
Practical classes and workshops16
Project supervision4
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

ISO 14001; 2004;. Environmental Management Systems - specification with guidance for use; BritishStandards Institute. 



ISO14001 Certification audit


MethodPercentage contribution
ISO14001 Certification audit 30%
Production of EMS manual 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Production of EMS manual 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

Linked modules


To study this module, you will need to also study the following module(s):

ENVS6030Environmental Law and Management


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 cost of travel to site visits will be covered by the University

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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