Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Techniques in Environmental Geochemistry
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Field Trip 3 x 9 Hour Field Trips
Practical 9 x 4 Hour Practicals


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Field Notebook  Report on the application of individual analytical methods to particular media (2000 words)  5%
Semester Assessment Air Quality Exercise (750 words)  Report on field sampling exercises (1500 words)  10%
Semester Assessment Soil Description /classification report (750 words)  Report on suggested remediation methods for the field site to appropriate environmental quality guidelines (3000 words)  10%
Semester Assessment Report on field sampling exercise (1000 words)  Report on the application of BS5930 methods for soil description (750 words)  15%
Semester Assessment Report on Parys Mt. Exercise (3000 words)  60%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed components - field note book  Resubmit failed coursework components only  5%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed components - air quality  Resubmit failed coursework components only  10%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed components - soil descrip  Resubmit failed coursework components only  10%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of failed components - field exercise  Resubmit failed coursework components only  15%
Supplementary Assessment Resuibmission of failed components - Parys  Resubmit failed coursework components only  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Devise and implement a sampling programme for geochemical analyses

Make rational, scientific judgments on the validity and application of particular analytical methods to particular environmental media

Make rational, scientific judgments on the application of various environmental quality standards to a range of environmental quality data

Access publically-available sources of air quality information and assemble appropriate data sets to address specific air quality problems

Keep a careful field record of sampling and environmental data

Use standard methods (British/European Standard) to describe and classify soils.

Brief description

A Masters level module which provides an introduction to practical environmental geochemistry. This course will provide students with the introduction to basic sampling of waters and sediments for geochemical analysis. The sampling programme will be team based and devised following a "walk-over" survey of the field site by the students as part of a four day field course based on Anglesey. This course will also demonstrate all necessary field measurement and collection methods (pH, Eh, conductivity), and will form the basis of a small report on sampling. Geochemical analyses of the materials collected will be conducted back in the laboratory and the full data set will be integrated into a final report which will also include a review of remediation methods for the area sampled.
The course will introduce air quality monitoring by making use of publically-available air quality information. This element of the course will be linked to contamination in the Lower Swansea Valley which is covered during a two-day field trip to South Wales.
The course will also introduce the standard methods for soil description and classification from an engineering geology perspective.


To provide a thorough training in the field and laboratory methods for the collection and analysis of environmental media. To provide a training in the correct use of field measurement techniques; including the theory behind the instrumental methods used. To train students to record information in the field. To introduce the subject of air quality monitoring through the structured use of publically-available data and to relate these data to a current air quality problem. To provide training in the correct description and classification of soil samples using British/European Standards.
To provide training in the analysis and presentation of environmental data and in report writing. To provide training in field skills.


Week 1 – Lecture “Introduction to the module, assessment and feedback, timetable etc., the theory of measurements of pH, Eh and conductivity.”
Week 2 – Lecture “Water and soil/sediment quality standards, field sampling and sample preservation.”
Week 2 – Fieldcourse. 4 days fieldwork based on Anglesey incorporating group sampling exercise at Parys Mountain.
Week 3 – Free week. Students working on field sampling report
Week 4 – Fieldcourse. 2 days fieldwork in South Wales incorporating an industrial visit to a Ni refinery and discussions of air quality issues in the Lower Swansea Valley.
Week 5 – Lecture “Good laboratory practice, laboratory standards and accreditation.”
Week 6 – Lecture “Flame techniques in geochemical analysis.”
Week 7 – Lecture “Plasma source methods in geochemical analysis.”
Week 8 – Lecture “X-ray methods in geochemical analysis.”
Week 9 – Lecture “Additional methods in geochemical analysis (IC and ASV).”
Week 10 – Lecture and practical exercise “Soil classification.”

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Numerical handling is required in calculating concentrations, interpreting analytical data.
Communication Scientific report writing
Improving own Learning and Performance Develop independent work associated with practical classes
Information Technology Use of computers and spreadsheets for performing/plotting geocehmical data. Students will have to search the internet for information on remediation techniques and quality standards e.g. data from the EC, EA, USEPA, WHO. The students will make use of BIDS/WoK etc and other searching facilities to obtain informatioon which will be included in the remediation report.
Personal Development and Career planning Industrial visits on South Wales fieldwork will provide an opportunity for students to meet working environmental officers and discuss their roles. Discussion with staff involved concerning relevance of examples to real life applications, and relevance to careers
Problem solving Working together to design a sampling strategy in the field after the group ‘walk-over survey’
Research skills Researching and applying methods for presentation and interpretation of geochemical data. Researching remediation techniques.
Subject Specific Skills The development of sampling strategies and field measurement techniques, the implementation of sampling methods, the appropriate application of a range of analytical methods in environmental geochemistry. The use of British/European standards for soil description and classification
Team work The field exercises at Parys Mountain, Anglesey are conducted in groups/teams


This module is at CQFW Level 7