Fast-track your application

If you're a final year student in our Faculty of Science and Engineering, you are eligible to fast-track your application for this course. Log in using your University details and submit your interest online.

Learn more about fast-tracking your application for this course

MSc Pollution & Environmental Control

Year of entry: 2022

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

We understand that prospective students and offer-holders may have concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The University is following the advice from Universities UK, Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Course unit details:
Pollutant Mobility and Transformation

Course unit fact file
Unit code EART62022
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit begins with a brief consideration of the definition of pollution to put the subsequent content into a framework that makes explicit the connections between natural processes and pollution.  The concept of misplaced materials – e.g. for earth materials; the difference between environment of deposition and exposure - and misplaced people then guides discussion of particular types of pollution.  Some important concentration gradients that then drive pollution such as pH and eH are explained and methods to measure and predict their impacts quantified through consideration of organic (sewage and other reduced carbon) and metal pollution.  In parallel, physical mobility primarily as a result of diffusion and dispersion is considered, quantified and compared in various media from water, to sediment, to groundwater, to streamwater and atmosphere.  Immobility is considered through explanation of the critical role of sorption in controlling much of the pollutant chemistry of natural waters, and methods of measuring and using such measurements to predict mobility.

A 1-day field trip to the Hope Valley integrates the content by providing opportunities to make measurements, to predict outcomes and validate these predictions.


To use specific examples of pollution to teach general concepts and skills required to measure and predict pollutant mobility and transformation.


Learning outcomes



On the successful completion of the course, students will be able to:


Define pollution and thereby general approaches to its control


Use knowledge of the chemistry of natural waters to predict the distribution of organic and inorganic pollutants.


Use knowledge of the chemistry/mineralogy of earth materials to predict the potential for certain environments to be pollution sources or sinks


Formulate knowledge of dispersion and diffusion into predictive models of pollutant mobility





3 hour weekly + 2 hour sessions every 2 weeks or when requested

1 day field trip to UK Peak District – “Environmental Statements for the Hope Valley”


Classroom content

1. What is pollution?

2. The chemistry of natural waters – concepts, measurement and prediction

3. Reduced carbon as the commonest type of pollutant – concepts, measurement and prediction

4. Earth materials as source of pollutants - concepts, measurement and prediction

5. Electron and proton gradients and pollution - concepts, measurement and prediction

6. Earth Materials and pollutant retardation – concepts, measurement and prediction

2- 6.  Also include: Diffusion and dispersion – concepts, quantification, comparison between various media from water, to sediment, to groundwater, to streamwater and atmosphere

  1. Collation and analysis of field-trip data so as to meet field trip objectives

Field Day

During Week 9 – One day field (or virtual) visit to Hope Valley to integrate the prior content by meeting objectives of an exercise related to preparing Environmental Statements.  This will include making measurements, predicting outcomes and validating these predictions.

Teaching and learning methods


  • The first 2/3 of the content teaches general concepts, methods of environmental measurement and data analysis and give a framework into which the subsequent sessions on specific pollution case studies can be integrated.  The latter are linked to an opportunity to synthesise the prior learning in a field trip.
  • Each section uses lectures and practical exercises.  The exercises are largely done as guided on-line video, and followed by question and answer sessions – in class and / or via BB bulletin boards.
  • In addition to these exercises there is a full day (or if necessary virtual) field trip.
  • Formative assessment through on-line BB tests with immediate feedback is given each week.
  • Summative assessment is by a single on-line open book examination using questions in the same style as the formative tests and with immediate feedback. 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 100%

Feedback methods


Assessment type

% Weighting within unit

Hand out and hand in dates



How, when and what feedback is provided

ILO tested

Formative tests




5 – 30mins

On-line immediate





2 hours

On-line within 3 days

1 – 4


Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stephen Boult Unit coordinator

Return to course details