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SOES3008 Environmental and Engineering Geology

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

1. To introduce the concepts of environmental geology and engineering geology, and their role in environmental and engineering management 2. To evaluate various aspects of environmental geochemistry, environmental radioactivity and hydrogeology/hydrology, and show how the interconnections between these and other academic areas (oceanography, biology, geomorphology, civil engineering etc.) allow the better understanding and management of major and complex contemporary environmental and engineering issues. 3. To introduce key concepts of environmental radioactivity, and examine the environmental and human health impacts of natural radioactivity, and radioactive discharges and wastes from the nuclear industry. 4. To describe the problems of contaminated land, legislation and methods of remediation 5. To present the key principles of hydrology and hydrogeology and to use these to appraise contaminant hydrology, transport and remediation. 6. To develop numeracy and analysis (in terms of handling environmental and engineering geology data) and problem solving skills (including analysis of cross-disciplinary problems, involving complex environmental media)

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply examples of environmental and engineering geology theory and practice to address environmental and waste management problems.
  • Integrate aspects of environmental geochemistry, environmental radioactivity and hydrogeology/hydrology to develop solutions to complex environmental or engineering problems
  • Apply fundamental radioactivity equations and concepts to assess environmental and human health consequences of nuclear industry discharges.
  • Develop strategies for working on multifactorial, multidisciplinary problems.


The module is concerned with a number of inter-related environmental geological issues that have not been encountered in other courses. Relevant introductory material is presented to ensure that a good understanding of the key issues can be gained by students having a background in any of the environmental sciences (geology, geophysics, Phy Geog, Env Sci) Several of the course topics are inter-related which increases the value of the learning outcomes. Additionally, several aspects introduce information on employability prospects. The course covers problems of urban geology, including water supply and pollution (hydrology and hydrogeology) and waste disposal (landfill and geology, EU Directives). It also includes the impact of metalliferous mining on the environment, aspects of natural and anthropogenic environmental radioactivity, the many issues relating to problems relating to nuclear site operations, incidents, decommissioning, waste discharges to the sea and nuclear waste disposal. The hydrogeology of the highly complex Sellafield nuclear site is used as a case study to consider the interaction of groundwater movements with geochemical dispersion (including radionuclide migration).

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Formal Lectures: (24 x 45 minute Lectures): are concerned with theoretical background and case-studies relating to water resources, waste disposal, engineering, land remediation, radioactivity, environmental geochemistry and health. Approximately 2 Invited speakers make specialist contributions to the course. Practicals: 7 x 3 hour laboratory classes. Tutorial / group discussion: 2 hours A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Practical classes and workshops14
Completion of assessment task70
Guided independent study30
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework assignment(s) 40%
Theory examination  (2.5 hours) 60%
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