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2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

GEOG5830M Environmental Assessment

15 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Gordon Mitchell

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module introduces the principles and practice of environmental assessment, emphasising tools that are applied to infrastructure and development plans. Following an initial focus on Environmental Impact Assessment, other widely used tools, including Strategic Environmental Appraisal, Environmental Risk Assessment, Multi-Criteria Appraisal, and Environmental Justice Appraisal are addressed. The module focuses on tools used in professional practice and develops an understanding of how activities ranging from numerical modelling to public participation are used to support decision making.


The aim of this module is to: (a) provide a vocationally oriented introduction to the principles and practice of environmental assessment (EA), particularly as applied to infrastructure and planning; (b) develop an awareness of the historical development of EA, its scope, processes and techniques, and legislation; and (c) provide an integrating framework for knowledge and practical skills (e.g. in modelling, or data analysis), gained elsewhere. The course does not provide instruction on specialist tools applied in specific disciplinary areas (e.g. how to run a pollutant dispersion model); rather, students will gain an appreciation of the wider vocational context for the application of such tools in processes such as Environmental Impact Assessment.

Learning activities consist of lectures with practical small group exercises and films to develop understanding of EA processes and foster class discussion. EIA instruction is supported by independent study of a documentary series tracing the development, appraisal and political decision making process regarding a controversial onshore wind farm development in the UK.

The module is best suited to those who are interested in learning how environmental sciences are applied in impact appraisal to support public and private decision making (e.g. re infrastructure development, investment, planning). Many graduates choosing a career with an environmental element (e.g. planner, regulator, developer, consultant) begin in roles where they draw on specific technical skills (such as modelling, or GIS) and subject knowledge (e.g. water quality, or ecology) which have been acquired elsewhere in their academic career. An understanding of environmental assessment process and practice will enable you to see how your applied skills and knowledge are used in decision making, and will support career progression beyond the technical roles typical of entry level jobs.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module, you will able to:

1. Explain the principles and practice of environmental assessment, particularly with reference to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process;

2. Identify and compare a range of other environmental assessment approaches relevent to assessment of development projects and plans;

3. Critically evaluate the role of environmental assessment processes in promoting environmental protection and sustainable development.

Skills Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills learning outcomes:

1. Academic: Reflection, critical thinking, academic writing
2. Work ready: communication, problem solving and analysis, commercial awareness, critical thinking
3. Sustainability: Systems thinking, futures thinking, integrated problem solving

These skills we be demonstrated via a final term paper (report) that presents students with a related, two part problem that integrates learning across the module: first an infrastructure development proposal is presented for which the students must present their assessment plan (a primary task in development assessment workplace, an done that build son in class practice); second a critical reflection of the process is required, reflecting on pros/cons of the infrastructure assessment process, and how it contributes to sustainability futures. The assignment draws on all parts of the module and requires a mix of problem solving and critical reflection skills.


Details of the syllabus will be provided on the Minerva organisation (or equivalent) for the module.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours130.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Lectures include small group technical exercises to develop process understanding, with formative feedback provided in class throughout delivery of the module, giving sufficient time for students to reflect on this before submitting their assessment.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2024 16:14:37


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