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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. Sessions will include lecture components covering 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 rest of the 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 Week 1: Characterisation of soils and sediments; Soil properties, erosion and forensic science
Week 2: Mineral surface properties and cation exchange capacity; Instrumental methods for mineral characterisation in environmental samples
Week 3: Characterisation of natural organic matter in soils and sediments; Interaction of contaminants with mineral and organic matter in soils and sediments
Weeks 4/5: Introduction to aquatic systems and acid-base equilibria; Excel spreadsheets for acid-base diagrams
Week 6: Oral presentations (groups of 3; 12 minute presentation + 3 minutes for questions)
Week 7: Acid-base equilibria in natural waters; Importance of alkalinity for determining dissolved inorganic carbon content of waters
Weeks 8/9: Feedback from oral presentations; Problem-solving exercises
Week 10: Redox equilibria in natural waters; Importance of redox equilibria for remediation of contaminated urban environments
Week 11: Complexation equilibria in natural waters; Importance of speciation for human health and for remediation of contaminated soils
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 2019/20, 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)

The oral presentations will take place during week 6 of semester and the deadline for the written presentation will be in week 11 of semester 1.
Feedback Formative feedback will be provided verbally following non-assessed presentations in week 2. Formative feedback on problem-solving exercises will also be provided verbally on a weekly basis. Written feedback will be provided within 15 working days on each of the assessed oral presentation and written assignment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the composition of soils and the main geochemical processes leading to soil formation
  2. Appreciate the differences in composition encountered in contaminated soils
  3. Understand the chemical equilibrium approach to determine speciation in aquatic systems
  4. Be able to interpret pe-pH predominance and speciation diagrams
  5. Have developed skills in interpreting geochemical research findings and presenting geochemical information verbally and in written essay format
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 Kathryn Will
Tel: (0131 6)50 2624
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