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

Postgraduate Course: Environmental Impact Assessment (PGGE11009)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryEnvironmental Impact Assessment (EIA) can be described as a decision-making tool, a legislative instrument and a formalised environmental management process. It exists to enable precautionary measures to be incorporated into project and policy planning for the protection of environmental and human systems. EIA allows determination of the potential impacts of development on environmental quality, social well-being and regional economies.

The module aims to provide a vocational approach to the impacts and methods relating to EIA (with reference to Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitat Regulations Appraisal), and to consider how these impacts can be quantified and analysed. The module gives an overview of the legislative framework of EIA and explains the EIA process, providing examples of techniques used in impact assessment relating to topics concerning the natural and cultural heritage. Students have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with EIA by researching a case study for a development project.

Course description Week Date Topic
1 14 Jan Finding environmental information

2 21 Jan Planning Policy and Legislation in Scotland

3 28 Jan Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

4 4 Feb Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA)

5 11 Feb Ecological Mitigation Strategies / Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW)

6 18 Feb Material assets, cultural heritage and landscape

Assessment A: Deadline
7 25 Feb Flexible Learning Week

8 4 Mar Land, soil, water, air and climate

9 11 Mar

Case Study

10 20 Mar Habitat Regulations Appraisal (HRA)

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)
11 25 Mar EIA in an international context:

Middle East & North Africa; China & Japan
12 1 Apr Assessment B: Deadline

** Please note: The timetable will be subject to revision, depending on changes in availability of internal and external speakers. Students will be advised of any changes as soon as is possible and every effort will be made to provide suitable alternatives.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThere is a cap of 5 on the number of non School of GeoSciences students please contact the course secretary ( for available space prior to registering on this course.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 44, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 152 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summary:

The assessment component comprises a Formative Assessment and two Summative Assessments. The Formative Assessment forms the initial stages of the first of the Summative Assessments and provides students the opportunity to receive feedback on their ideas for the Summative Assessment.

Both Summative Assessments account for 100% of the final assessment of the course. The first assessment requires production of a report presenting the outcomes of application of a Quality Review Package to an EIA of your choice. The second assessment will comprise an essay on a selected topic relevant to EIA.

The assessment details and deadlines will be confirmed at the start of the course.

Assessment Details:

Assessment A (60% of the marks): Quality Review Report¿ due February 2016
In order to start this assessment; you need to choose a case study Environmental Impact Statement (ES). You can choose one of the example EIAs provided or choose one yourself, for any type or scale of development. It can also be sited in any country allowing you to gain more familiarity with the EIA legislation and procedures in different countries. You should start looking for a development with a completed and available EIA early. The Course Organiser can also help you locate an EIA.

For the ES you have chosen you are required to use the Quality Review Package (available on Learn) to conduct a review of a section of your choice. Choose one of the following areas to investigate:
a. Identification and evaluation of key impacts, or
b. Alternatives and mitigation, or
c. Communication of results.

Prepare a report, addressing the following elements:
1. A description of the development, the local environment and the baseline conditions. (10%)
2. Describe the relevant EIA legislation in terms of its sources and implementation for the country in which your project is based. (10%)
3. Present a table detailing the key findings of your review. (30%)
4. Drawing from the results of your review, critically appraise how the EIA has addressed the area investigated, making reference to relevant EIA best practice and guidance documents. (30%)
5. Critically review the method of quality review, particularly the allocation of grades, and the combination of grades into an overall ES grade. (20%)

World limit: 3000 (excluding text in diagrams & references).

Formative Assessment¿ due February 2016
In preparation for Assessment A, you should select an appropriate Environmental Impact Statement (ES) which you will use to apply the Quality Review package introduced in Week 2.

Please provide a short paragraph of no more than 200 words providing the following detail:
¿ The title of your chosen ES and a brief description of the project subject to EIA.
¿ Comment on why you have chosen this particular EIA for review.
¿ The area of the review package you intend to investigate and why (e.g. Identification and evaluation of key impacts)

Your paragraph should be accompanied by a project plan outlining your proposals for the content of each of the sections of your report addressing the 5 elements described in Assessment A. Your project plan should be no more than one side of A4.

Assessment B (40% of the marks): Revisions to the EIA Directive ¿ What Changes Will the New Directive Bring? - due March 2016
Provide an overview of the key amendments to Directive 2011/92/EU which are proposed in Directive 2014/52/EU and conduct a critical appraisal of the effectiveness of these new proposals in delivering the Union¿s aims of:
i. Improving environmental protection, increasing resource efficiency and supporting sustainable growth;
ii. Improving the quality of EIA, simplifying procedures and streamlining the decision making process.
World limit: 2000 (excluding text in diagrams, tables, and references).

Feedback Feedback will be given on the Summative Assessments submitted via Learn through the Turnitin grademarker which will be used to attach comments throughout submitted documents.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Reflect on the role of EIA in decision making
  2. Appraise the legislative framework for EIA, with a focus towards its application in Scotland
  3. Validate the EIA process and stages
  4. Design and justify methods for specific topic areas in the natural and cultural heritage
Reading List
There are no set texts for the course. Relevant reading materials are located in the Course Content folder alongside each week's lecture materials.
Relevant updates to EIA legislation and guidance can be found on the appropriate government websites, for example:
The EIA process is found in a number of standard texts which can be found in the University or SRUC libraries.
An overview of the EIA process and topics in EIA is available from:

Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsEnvironmental Impact Assessment,Development,Planning,Policy
Course organiserMr Sebastian O'Connor
Course secretaryMiss Lydia Hall
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