BA Geography with International Study

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Environmental Pollution

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG10161
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This exciting module introduces you to the principles of environmental pollution. We will explore the major types of pollution in air, water and on land. We will think about the impacts and issues posed by environmental pollution. Finally we will reflect on the strategies used to prevent and control environmental pollution.


• Provide an introduction to environmental pollution 
• Review key concepts in environmental pollution
• Develop an understanding of the causes and effects of pollution
• Build awareness of the strategies used to control and manage pollution
• Place contemporary problems of environmental pollution in a longer-term temporal perspective
• Develop cognitive and analytical skills.


  • Environmental pollution: concepts and questions
  • Urban air pollution
  • Trans-boundary air pollution
  • Water pollution
  • Drinking water pollution
  • Solid waste
  • Metal pollution
  • Pesticides
  • Managing environmental pollution

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit is delivered through 10 x 2 hour lecture classes. These will include opportunities for student interaction and discussion. Students are expected to read widely to support the lecture classes and undertake additional support activities indicated for each lecture. Lecture materials, notes and suggestions for independent activities to support the classes (including directed reading) will be signposted on the VLE site.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe and explain contemporary pollution issues
  • Describe and explain specific examples of environmental pollution
  • Describe and explain the causes and effects of key types of environmental pollution
  • Evaluate different pollution control strategies

Intellectual skills

  • Evaluate scientific evidence of environmental pollution
  • Abstract and synthesise ideas and information

Practical skills

  • Use literature search skills to identify relevant literature beyond the course recommended reading
  • Demonstrate effective writing skills

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Critically evaluate non-scientific material e.g. media articles

Employability skills

By taking this unit, students should have a greater understanding of different types of environmental pollution, and its causes, effects, and management. Students should be able to evaluate scientific evidence, including that from non-scientific materials (e.g. media articles), abstract and synthesise ideas and information, and have developed key transferable skills such as literature search and writing skills.

Assessment methods


1.5-hour open book exam        Duration: 1.5 hours          Weighting: 100%

Written feedback on exam script. Opportunity to discuss with AA early in the following semester. 


Formative Assessment

Discussion of key ideas in class and revision of semester in the final lecture class

Feedback will be provided via:
In class discussion.
Verbal feedback through consultation hours.


Recommended reading

Selected Readings:

* Hill, M.K. (2020) Understanding Environmental Pollution. 4th edition. Cambridge University Press. Other editions are also suitable. *Key Text.
Elsom, D.M. (1992). Atmospheric pollution: a global problem. Blackwell, Oxford. 
Gray, N.F. (2008). Drinking Water Quality: Problems and Solutions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 
Harrison, R.M. (2006). An Introduction to Pollution Science. Royal Society of Chemistry, London. 
Mason, C.F. (2002). Biology of freshwater pollution. Prentice Hall, Harlow.

Key Journals

Environmental Pollution.
Environmental Science and Policy.
Environmental Science and Technology.
Journal of Environment Management.
Science of the Total Environment. 
Water Air and Soil Pollution.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 78.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Rothwell Unit coordinator

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