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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Environmental Problems and Issues (EASC10049)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe course is intended as a means to engage students in learning about a range of topical environmental issues, but especially to develop students┬┐ independent research and presentation skills. The course is delivered through a series of lecture suites, each of which is followed 1 week later by a session in which students will present 15-20 minute seminars on selected sub-topics. Each seminar will be followed by a discussion session. Students engage in seminar sessions both through presentation and audience participation (recommended readings and discussion associated with each seminar). The exam takes place in May, and the course is therefore not suitable to students visiting only for semester 1.

Further Course Information
Course description Syllabus
PART 1: Impact of synthetic gases on the Earth system.
Synthetic gases contribute to the major global environmental problems of stratospheric ozone depletion and climate change over the past half-century. These lectures will study the science of these issues linking to the history of discovery and policies to mitigate emissions.
PART 2: Estuarine Processes
Physical and biogeochemical processes occurring in estuaries, and how these interact to control the cycling and fate of natural and contaminant materials.
PART 3: Ocean exploitation
Due to technological advancements, demand for critical elements such as Ni, Cu, Mn and Co has increased. Manganese nodules and ferromanganese crusts harbour these and other elements and improved deep-sea mining technology may is enabling commercially viable exploitation. The course will cover how manganese nodules and ferromanganese crusts are formed, and evaluate the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining and associated policy issues.
PART 4: Nuclear Waste management
Chemical, geological and socio-economic issues associated with managing the Earth's low-, intermediate- and high-level nuclear waste.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Global Environmental Change- Foundations (EASC09056) AND Environmental Geochemistry of the Earth's Surface (EASC08024)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesOnly available for full year visiting students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  26
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 14, Fieldwork Hours 3, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 79 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 70 %, Coursework 30 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 70%, Course Work: 30 %, Practical Exam: 0%.
Coursework 30% Seminar marks are based both on style and content of seminars (85%) o Attendance and participation during discussion (15%).
Exam - 70%, the 90-minute May exam is based on answers to 3 out of 4 essay-style questions. Questions will be based on materials covered both in lecture and case studies explored in seminar sessions.
Assessment Deadlines
Students present one seminar on one of four dates during the course of semester (dates TBD) Exam May Diet
Assessment and Feedback information
All details related to extensions procedures and late penalties can be found in the General Information Handbook
Feedback Detailed feedback on seminars (style and content) will be provided to students. Staff also provide guidance and feedback during discussion sessions following seminars.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)1:30
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Development of an understanding of the current state of the Earth and the interactions between Man's activities and natural cycles.
  2. Skills in independent literature research and in-depth, critical studies of processes within the context of specific problems and case studies.
  3. Skills in oral presentation to an informed audience.
  4. Skills in discussion and critical assessment of student-led seminars.
  5. An understanding of selected environmental issues and real-life problems in context provided by other linked Environmental Geoscience courses.
Reading List
Recommended readings will be provided with each lecture suite as well as with sub-topics selected for student seminars.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Greg Cowie
Tel: (0131 6)50 8502
Course secretaryMr Johan De Klerk
Tel: (0131 6)50 7010
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