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MSci Biomedical Sciences / Course details
Year of entry: 2021
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Course unit details:
Human Impacts on the Biosphere (E)
|Unit level||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Offered by||School of Biological Sciences|
|Available as a free choice unit?||No|
You will examine how humans impinge on the biosphere through an examination of the impact of key topics including: environmental impact of metal extraction, environmental impact of agriculture, urbanisation and environmental impact of air pollution from road transport.
|Unit title||Unit code||Requirement type||Description|
|Ecology & Ecosystems||BIOL21211||Pre-Requisite||Recommended|
To provide a knowledge and understanding of:
- How humans impinge on the biosphere through an examination of the impact of key anthropogenic stressors arising from resource exploitation and use, agriculture and urbanisation on selected ecosystems and biomes.
- Methods and approaches - from molecular to community level - used in the assessment and prediction of human impacts on ecosystems.
Students should gain an understanding of:
- The impact of natural resource exploitation and pollution on populations and communities through the study of important human activities, specifically resources utilisation (metal mining); agriculture; urbanisation; transport
- Methods and approaches used in the assessment and prediction of anthropogenic impacts on key ecosystems and biomes
And be able to:
- Appreciate the importance of connecting and integrating knowledge regarding human impacts, including on the whole biosphere and not only one sector
- Appreciate the importance of field and laboratory studies in understanding and solving environmental problems arising from human activities
- Critically appraise and discuss research literature regarding contemporary and controversial issues related to human impacts on the environment
• Introduction: Population pressure and resource utilization; pollutants of land, water and air; acute and chronic pollution; standards and guidelines
• Environmental impact of metal extraction and use Sources, behaviour and impacts; bioaccumulation and toxicity; treatment and bioremediation of land and freshwater with particular reference to mine waste
• Environmental Impact of agriculture: Impacts on biodiversity; potential conflicts with productivity; chemical inputs and the ‘green revolution’; irrigation and salinization
• Urbanisation: Impact of sewage on urban water quality and ecology; role of planning in pollution control and enhancing biodiversity; urbanisation and terrestrial biodiversity
• Environmental impact of air pollution from road transport: Sources and monitoring; air pollutants from transport; impact of ozone and nitrogen dioxide on vegetation and food security
- Analytical skills
- The literature review requires analysis of primary and secondary (reviews) sources and critically evaluate experimental and field data.
- The literature review requires the students to generate a case study of a human derived pollution incident therefore innovation is needed in the research ideas they identify and present.
- Project management
- Organise and produce literature review to specified deadline.
- Oral communication
- Students asked questions during lectures.
- Problem solving
- e-learning questions are asked throughout the course after each topic, come of which require problem solving.
- Required for e-learning questions and literature review.
- Written communication
- Individual e-learning questions and literature review assignment plus essay questions during examination.
|Written assignment (inc essay)||30%|
Two hour written examination (60%), max 5 page assignment: case study of pollution incident (30%), Other – online e-learning questions (10%).
Performance in e-learning revision questions; written feedback on coursework assignment; optional feedback on outline plan of coursework report; question/answer session in final session.
Mostly primary research literature based with articles and links provided on Blackboard. The following are also recommended.
- Williams, A E, Waterfall, R J, White, K N & Hendry, K (2010) Manchester Ship Canal and Salford Quays: industrial legacy and ecological restoration. In: Ecology of Industrial Pollution (ed: Batty, L C and Hallberg, K B). Cambridge University Press, 276-308.
- Paul, M.J. and Meyer, J.L. (2001) Streams in an urban landscape. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 32, 333-365.
- Wilkiins et al (2012) How is ozone pollution reducing our food supply? J. Exp. Bot. 63 (2): 527-536.
- Lee et al (2012) Effects of roads on adjacent plant community composition and ecosystem function: An example from three calcareous ecosystems Environmental Pollution 163 (2012) 273e280
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||2|
|Independent study hours|
|Jon Pittman||Unit coordinator|