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BSc Environmental Science

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
The Natural Scientist's Toolkit

Unit code EART11200
Credit rating 40
Unit level Level 4
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

In the Natural Scientists Toolkit you will increase your confidence in mathematics and physical sciences. There are three parts to the unit, covering: (1) maths and physics problem solving, to analyse real world problems like the burning of fossil fuels, and to learn to handle geological and environmental data; (2) chemistry of the earth and environment, addressing basic chemical concepts and how they apply to topics such as water chemistry and geological processes; (3) how to program a computer to solve problems in earth and environmental sciences. The Toolkit supplements the other first year lecture and practical units, and equips you with the skills you will need for 2nd year and beyond.

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.

Pre/co-requisites

Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Understanding the Earth EART11100 Co-Requisite Compulsory
Practical and Professional Skills Development EART11300 Co-Requisite Compulsory

Aims

The aim of the Natural Scientist’s Toolkit is to increase your confidence in numerical problem solving and the use of the physical sciences to the study of earth and environmental sciences.

 

Learning outcomes

ILO 1

practice the application of key concepts in maths, physics and chemistry, including manipulating logarithms, rearranging equations, algebra, statistics, basic calculus, geometry, and atomic and molecular structure

 

ILO 2

apply mathematical theory to break down and model / describe real-world example problems.

 

ILO 3

 

use calculus to solve ordinary differential equations by separation of variables, and to arrive at approximate solutions using finite-difference.

ILO 4

 

recognise and explain terms and symbols in partial differential equations that describe advection, diffusion, and to be able to find approximate solutions using finite difference

ILO 5

interpret the geochemical behaviour of elements based on their place in the Periodic Table

ILO 6

explain how radiogenic and stable isotopes are used to interpret the age of rocks and geochemical processes

ILO 7

show how chemical reactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere combine to form geochemical cycles.

ILO 8

explain how frequentist statistical thinking is applied in the context of hypothesis testing.

ILO 9

identify predictor and response variables and major data types (categorical and numerical, including continuous, discrete and binary), and with access to references select appropriate statistical tests for analysing each type of data.

ILO 10

apply basic statistical tests (t-tests, ANOVA, chi-squared tests, linear regression, logistic regression, mixed regression) to data.

ILO 11

apply modern computer programming concepts to deal with data, and model fundamental problems in science

ILO 12

Synthesise results, visualise data and critically evaluate different methods for solving real-world problems

 

Syllabus

Semester 1

L1/P1 – Chemistry; L2/P2 Maths and Physics

 

Semester 2

L2/P2 Maths and Physics; L3/P3 Programming

Teaching and learning methods

Semester 1:

Each week there will be two 1-hour lectures and two 2-hour practicals. Lectures are recorded and made available as Podcasts through the University podcast service, with PowerPoint slides. Practical sessions include problem-solving exercises. Formative assessments will be provided, and feedback on these assessments will be available to the students after completion. For the maths and physics module, assessment comprises of an online mid-semester assessment and end of semester (January) online assessment. For the chemistry module, there is a formative online test mid-semester, with the assessment consisting of an exam in January.

 

Semester 2:

In most weeks there will be two 1-hour lectures and two 2-hour practicals. All practicals will be held in computer clusters. For the first half of the semester, the maths and physics module will focus on working towards the final assessment for that section, which consists of a written report completed by week 6.  In weeks 7-12, the data handling module section will be delivered through a 1-hour lecture and a 2-hour practical each week. Assessment consists of a test in week 12. The programming module will be delivered through a 1-hour lecture and a 2-hour practical in weeks 1-10, followed by just the 2-hour practical in weeks 10-12 where students can work on their chosen assignment. On that, we will provide continuous formative assessments before a combined programming exercise and written report is submitted at the end of semester based on examples from weeks 4-8.

 

Assessment methods

Assessment type

% Weighting within unit

Hand out and hand in dates

Length

 

How, when and what feedback is provided

ILO tested

Online Test

(M&P)

0

Each week in semester 1 except week 6 – available for two weeks - 10 tests

30 minutes

Automated feedback and feedback in class (formative assessment)

1,2,12

Test

(M&P)

12.5

Semester 1

Week 7

1.5 hours

Automated feedback and feedback in class

1,2,12

Online Test

(M&P)

0

Semester 1

Weeks 9-11

Available all semester

Automated feedback

(formative assessment)

1,2,3,12

Online test

(M&P)

12.5

Semester 1

Exam period (January)

2 hours

Exam feedback session

1,2,3,12

Online Test

(Chem)

0

Semester 1

Week 6

1 hour

In class and on Blackboard

(formative assessment)

1 and 5

Online Test

(Chem)

25

Semester 1

January exam period

2 hours

Exam feedback session

1, 5-7

Report (individual)

(M&P)

12.5

Semester 2, weeks 1 handout- week 6 hand in

4 page

Written feedback given

1,2,3,4,12

Test

(M&P)

12.5

Semester 2, Week 12

1 hour

Written feedback given

8-11

Code submission

(Programming)

10

Semester 2, week 12

Submission of code to solve problem [check works]

Written feedback given

11,12

Report Individual

(Programming)

15

Semester 2, week 12

Report associated with related code)

Written feedback given

11,12

 

Recommended reading

Foundation Maths, Anthony Croft and Robert Davison, Pearson / Prentice Hall, Fourth Edition.

Engineering Mathematics  K.A. Stroud and Dexter J. Booth

Conceptual Integrated Science, Hewitt, Lyons, Suchocki and Yeh, Pearson / Prentice Hall.

Consider a spherical cow: A course in environmental problem solving, John Harte. University science books, 1988.

Engineering Mathematics Paperback by K. a Stroud, Palgrave Macmillan; 4th ed edition (1995)

Geochemistry. White, W. W. (2013) Wiley-Blackwell, p. 668

Introduction to geochemistry: principles and application. Misra K. C. (2012) Wiley-Blackwell, p 452

Geochemistry: Pathways and Processes, McSween H. Y. and Richardson S. M. (2003) Columbia University Press, 2nd Edition, p 432.

Python Crash Course: A Hands-On, Project-Based Introduction to Programming. No Starch Press

 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 40
Practical classes & workshops 86
Independent study hours
Independent study 274

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ann Webb Unit coordinator
James Allan Unit coordinator
David Topping Unit coordinator
Robert Gilman Unit coordinator
Rhian Jones Unit coordinator
Mike Burton Unit coordinator

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