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MSc Pollution & Environmental Control

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Environmental MSc Tutorial

Unit code EART62062
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


This course outlines the issues required to be considered when preparing for a research project, (particularly with reference to pollution and environmental control) and then provides the opportunity to apply these to an individual research project. The principles will outlined through a series of whole group lectures and workshops, whilst the application to specific individual projects shall be guided by a tutor through a series of small group tutorials. Formative assessments for a draft research proposal presentation and a draft research proposal report will provide the foundations for summative assessment of a research proposal presentation (including question & answer session) and (in EART60372) a research dissertation.

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.


Registration on MPEC – Masters in Pollution and Environmental Control

All students will be expected to have basic IT and communication skills, notably the ability to: utilise word processing and spreadsheet software, access and search the internet, including appropriate library databases of scientific and other published and unpublished literature; set out solutions to quantitative and other coursework problems in a clear and logical manner.


The aim of this course unit is to

[i]  outline the key requirements of an excellent research proposal, particularly with reference to pollution and environmental control

 [ii] provide the opportunity for students to select and plan a suitable research project and to develop an excellent research project proposal


Learning outcomes

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




describe and structure the key requirements of a strong research proposal





synthesise literature and data to identify potentially viable research projects and the critical data required to be obtained to achieve the research project aims and objectives




subdivide the requirements of a research project to identify relevant tractable methods and sampling strategies to achieve them and hence develop a plausible viable research project plan




defend a research proposal or research proposition against reasonable criticism




apply relevant literature review, computer modelling, field and/or laboratory protocols relevant to obtaining preliminary data for the purposes of preparing a research proposal




apply key skills and attributes of those seeking employment in environment sector by planning and presenting  a professional research proposal





[1] Core lectures/whole group seminars (6 x 3 hours) These activities will cover:

Week 1

(i) Introduction to Unit. Rationale. Specifications. Instructions & guidance to students, supervisors and demonstrators [1 hour]

(ii) Philosophy of science. Brief recap: What is science ? What is good science ? Research and monitoring surveys (e.g. for environmental impact assessments or to test regulatory compliance) as scientific endeavours.

(iii) Research proposals – purpose, logistic frameworks - research aims – objectives – data requirements – methods – constraints, indicators of success; context & specific requirements for this course unit, how to write an excellent research proposal.


Week 2

(iv) Skills: Searching for knowledge, information and data. Literature review methods. Systematic reviews. Focussed reviews. Assessing the reliability of sources.

(v) Skills: Critical thinking,

(vi) Skills: Good writing and presentation.


Week 3

(vii) Good research practice– ethics, professional ethics, impact/social responsibility, due acknowledgement of sources & contributors to work, working with others, health & safety, data protection, ; other regulatory and ethical compliance; avoiding perceived plagiarism and academic malpractice; good research management & project planning 


Weeks 4 & 5

(viii) Good laboratory practice – including risk assessments (including CoSHH), and School-specific instructions on laboratory access and practices.

[2] Series of 10 hours of small group tutorials in semester two at times & patterns (e.g. 10 x 1 hour; 5 x 2 hour;) to be agreed by the allocated tutor and the small tutorial group to cover the following topics:

(i) Introduction to the tutor’s research area and interests

(ii) Identifying potential research projects within that area

(iii) Field and laboratory methods and method selection

(iv) Presentation & discussion of draft research proposals

(v) Presentation & discussion of revised research proposals


Teaching and learning methods

Learning in this course unit will be based upon (i) whole group teaching; (ii) small group tutorials and (iii) independent study, supported by reading lists, lectures and further e-learning materials made available on Blackboard.

General principles will be outlined in lectures, with practicals/workshops used to reinforce those principles through practical (paper/computer based) exercises and discussions.

Application to individual research project preparation will be done through independent work with guidance and feedback, including from peers, through small group tutorials – these small group tutorials are a much more effective way to progress this at an individual level than whole group teaching methods and is a key element of the learning and teaching processes in this course unit. Students will be expected to carry out directed and independent reading, including of the University of Manchester MyLearningEssentials resources; as well as directed and independent exercises.

Formative assessments for a draft research proposal presentation and a draft research proposal report will provide the foundations for summative assessment of a research proposal presentation (including question & answer session) and (in EART60372) a research dissertation.

The feedback strategy is designed to help develop a student’s ability to self-assess their own progress. Feedback will be delivered throughout the duration of each tutorial via both group and one-to-one staff-student interactions in which students will be guided through the various exercises and offered comments on their technique.

A key element of this course unit will be how to go about selecting a research problem and then applying that to actually selecting an individual research problem. To the latter end, all students will be allocated to a tutor, who has research interests broadly in line with this indicated to be of interest to particular students. Research problem selection will be done in a strongly interactive manner between the tutor and student and having this process expounded in small group tutorials provides the opportunity for all students to better see and understand the nature and importance of that process. Every allocated tutor will normally be expected to reinforce the key elements of the core lectures in relation to research proposal preparation and also be the supervisor of the projects developed by each tutorial group member.

Tutors will have research experience in a range of areas related to pollution and environmental control – for example in relation to water, air, soil, ecosystems and more broadly environmental hazards and research areas related to global climate change. Environmental research and the impact of environmental research carried out by the School has been part of a collectively highly rated REF2014 research quality submission and this represents an important opportunity for students to be guided by researchers  with international and/or national reputations.



Assessment methods

Assessment type

% Weighting within unit

Hand out and hand in dates



How, when and what feedback is provided

ILO tested

Report (individual)




Week 1


Week 2

35 questions

Whole-group feedback within 15 working days


Report (individual)



Week 1


Week 3

35 questions

Whole-group feedback within 15 working days


Oral (individual)



Week 1


Week 6

15 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions

Individual feedback within 15 working days


Oral (individual)


Set Week 1


Week 12

15 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions

Marks via Oracle after MPEC Examiners’ Meeting



Recommended reading

(University of Manchester) Research governance, integrity and ethics

(University of Manchester) Code of Good Research Practice

(UK Medical Research Council) Good Research Practice

(ESRC) What Makes Good Research ?

Goldacre, B. (2009 ) Bad Science. Harper-Collins.

Medewar, P.B. (1981) Advice to a Young Scientist. Sloan Foundation Science Series.

(European Union) Logical framework

(DFID) Logframe for Research Projects

(UQ) Annotated example of a UQ Research Proposal

IUPAC (2007) Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry; Edition 3.Available from:

And published papers, reports and texts as recommended during the course, including:

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Available via ]

Lim et al (2005) The case of the disappearing teaspoons: longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons in an Australian research institute British Medical Journal, 331, 1498.

[Open access via]

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 5
Practical classes & workshops 10
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 125

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stephen Boult Unit coordinator

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