Module Overview

Introduction to Environmental Chemistry & Sustainability

This environmental chemistry module introduces the student to the chemical processes occurring during the major biogeochemical cycles. The students will develop their understanding of environmental sustainability in the planetary boundaries, finite resources and the impacts of human activities on the safe operating space of the earth’s socio-ecological systems.  An understanding of water testing and accessible potable water quality will be developed. Aspects of physical and chemical processes applied to ecosystem protection in the atmosphere, stratosphere, troposphere and the disruptive impacts of the climate crisis, such as extreme weather, ocean warming, flooding and drought will be examined.  Laboratory work includes water testing using standard EPA methods.  

Module Code

CHEM 2010

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change


Water Sustainability and scarcity, finite resources, planetary boundaries, SDG 6 & SDG 14 targets & indicators. The hydrological cycle, water footprint, virtual water. Physical and chemical properties of water. Sustainable water management, water-use efficiency.  Potable water quality and the chemical principles. Calculations for standard EPA water test methods. Ocean acidification: causes, impacts of coral bleaching and marine biodiversity loss; and potential solutions including marine and coastal conservation. Water Pollution: The chemistry of nutrients in the environment, bioavailability, nutrient run-off, eutrophication and how anthropogenic inputs impact these systems. Marine debris: plastic pollution. Sources and sinks of persistent organic pollutants. Octanol-water partition coefficient. Endocrine disrupters.


The climate crisis (SDG 13 targets & indicators); Carbon and Oxygen biogeochemical cycles. Carbon footprint, reduction of emissions & climate awareness. The atmosphere: structure and energy balance. Units of concentration. Introduction to gaseous chemistry of the stratosphere. Composition and gaseous chemistry of the remote troposphere. Greenhouse gases and their emission. Atmospheric aerosols. Solvent emissions from stationary and mobile sources and their climate impact. Environmental sustainability and climate change; IPCC, COP21, The Paris Accord and the 1.5ºC Temperature rise.


Laboratory work to monitor water quality, which complements the lecture material is sourced from the Laboratory Manual.

Delivery by means of lectures (20 hours), tutorials (4 hours), laboratory practicals (15 hours) and self-study (61 hours) to include computational problems and report writing.

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination55
Other Assessment(s)45