BEng Civil Engineering / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Environmental Assessment

Course unit fact file
Unit code CIVL31132
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Engineers graduating today are charged with helping societies respond to unprecedented global challenges; environmental and social systems and thus economies are under threat following decades of unsustainable development. One of the most significant challenges this has resulted in is anthropogenic climate change. Infrastructure to date has been part of the problem, but it can also help society respond. New infrastructure is needed that works with nature and society to deliver sustainable solutions, which are resilient to future climate impacts and resource constraints. This unit equips graduates with the awareness of and tools to identify, assess and respond to the environmental and wider sustainability issues/impacts arising from the infrastructure projects they become involved with throughout their career.


This unit aims to provide students with the skills and understanding necessary to identify, evaluate and respond to the environmental and sustainability implications of infrastructure projects and the construction process.


The syllabus contains:

  1. An overview of the reasons why the environmental impacts of infrastructure projects can cause controversy.
    1. The utilitarian and intrinsic value of the environment
    2. Techno and eco centric views on future impacts
    3. Conservation and preservationist views on the environment
    4. The meaning of the term ‘environment’
  2. Environmental systems and the effects of human infrastructure projects on them.
    1. The different spheres of the environment (both natural and human), the ecosystem services each provides and the main mechanisms by which infrastructure projects have an effect on each sphere of the environment and its ecosystem services. Students will gain an appreciation of the environment and be able to identify the mechanisms by which infrastructure projects effect the environment.
    2. The concept of environmental justice and the implications of infrastructure projects on the human environment.
  3. Sustainable development
    1. Why development is unsustainable and the requirements of sustainable development
    2. The role that infrastructure can play in sustainable development throughout its life cycle and the implications for infrastructure design and the construction process.
  4.  The process of conducting an environmental impact assessment
    1. The history and legal context of Environmental Impact Assessments
    2. When an EIA is required for an infrastructure project;
    3. How to systematically identify potential impacts on the environment from a given project and how to evaluate the significance of these impacts.
  5. Mitigation methods to reduce the negative impacts on the environment
    1. The consideration of alternatives as a means of mitigation.
    2. Mitigation through design, construction methods and management.
    3. How green infrastructure can be used to enhance the environment.
    4. Conducting procedurally just public consultations
  6. Environmental Assessment in Developing Countries
    1. The difference between conducting an environmental impact assessment in developing countries compared to developed countries.
    2. The challenges specific to developing countries in conducting an environmental impact assessment.
  7. Strategic Environmental Assessment
    1. What SEA is and how SEA is used.
  8. Cost benefit analysis and the valuation of ecosystem services
    1. Different methods of valuing ecosystem services, including, hedonic pricing and contingent valuation.
    2. Practical examples of valuing ecosystem services in the UK.
  9. Climate impacts on infrastructure
    1. The projected impacts of climate change in the UK and globally.
    2. The challenges and responses required from infrastructure projects to ensure resilience to climate impacts. 

The course consists of interactive lectures with MACE staff together with guests from industry and draws on case study examples coupled with online reading and visual materials. 

There are 2 pieces of group coursework: 

The coursework involves applying and interpreting

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 80%
Report 10%
Oral assessment/presentation 10%

Feedback methods

Exams - via script viewing and collective feedback uploaded to blackboard after release of exam results

Report  - Feedback provided via written comments through Turnitin 2 weeks after submission. Collective feedback provided within lecture and uploaded to Blackboard

Oral - Feedback provided verbally at end of presentation

Poster - Feedback provided via written comments on Blackboard 2 weeks after submission

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 29
Project supervision 30
Tutorials 2
Independent study hours
Independent study 89

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Frances Wood Unit coordinator

Return to course details