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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Environmental Geochemistry (PGGE11172)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course consists of 10 x 2 hour sessions. The lectures cover the main characteristics and geochemical processes of soils, a fundamental treatment of acid-base equilibria in aquatic systems, and an integrated approach to redox and complexation equilibria in soil waters. The other sessions are devoted to discussion of case studies which provide 'real-world' application of the theory covered in the lectures and to student presentations and problem-solving workshops.
Course description Session 1
Characterisation of soils and sediments
Soil properties, erosion and forensic science

Session 2
Mineral surface properties and cation exchange capacity
Instrumental methods for mineral characterisation in environmental samples

Session 3
Characterisation of natural organic matter in soils and sediments
Transformations of organic matter: formation of fossil fuels

Session 4
Interaction of contaminants with mineral and organic matter in soils and sediments
Introduction to aquatic systems and acid-base equilibria

Session 5
Problem-solving soils/sediments; Excel spreadsheets for acid-base diagrams
Feed forward oral presentations

Session 6
Oral presentations

Session 7
Acid-base equilibria in natural waters
Importance of alkalinity for determining dissolved inorganic carbon content of waters

Session 8
Redox equilibria in natural waters
Importance of redox equilibria for remediation of contaminated urban environments

Session 9
Complexation equilibria in natural waters
Importance of speciation for human health and for remediation of contaminated soils

Session 10
Examples - aquatic systems
Feed forward - written assignment

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements There are no pre-requisites but some chemical knowledge is recommended.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 76 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written assignment of 2000 words (75% of total assessment)
Oral presentation (25% of total assessment)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. An enhanced understanding of the composition of soils and the main geochemical processes leading to soil formation.
  2. an appreciation of the how contaminants interact with soil components and how this may affect their mobility and bioavailability
  3. An understanding of the chemical equilibrium approach to determine speciation in aquatic systems.
  4. The ability to interpret pe-pH predominance and speciation diagrams.
  5. Improved skills in interpreting geochemical research findings and in verbal and written presentation of geochemical information.
Reading List
Principles of Environmental Chemistry, R.M. Harrison (Ed), Royal Society of Chemistry, 2007. Chapter 3.

Environmental and Low Temperature Geochemistry, P. Ryan, Wiley Blackwell, 2014.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsEnvironmental geochemistry
Course organiserDr Margaret Graham
Tel: (0131 6)50 4767
Course secretaryMs Heather Dyson
Tel: (0131 6)51 7126
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