SOEE1433 Water in the Environment

Reading List
  • Taught: Semester 1
  • Credits: 10
  • Class Size: 80
  • Module Manager: Dr A Maycock
  • Email:
  • Pre-Requisite Qualifications: GCSE General Science or equivalent
  • This Module is approved as a Discovery Module
  • This module replaces SOEE1432 Isues in Water Pollution

Discovery module overview

Module Summary

Module Summary

You will gain a general overview of the many important roles that water plays in the global environmental system. The module introduces the basic properties of water as a substance and explains why these make it a unique and important part of the terrestrial environmental system. By the end of the module you will have an understanding of the major components of the environmental system in which water plays a key role: the atmosphere, oceans, ice and land surface. The focus is on highlighting the diverse and interesting array of phenomena for which water is of fundamental importance, including climate change, storms, sea ice and glaciers, flooding and hydrology, and biodiversity in waterways and the oceans.
The emphasis of the module is on providing a holistic view of water within the environmental system. This will act as a primer for more specialised modules at subsequent study levels. This module is taught in semester 1 and is assessed by a one hour MCQ (multiple choice) examination at the end of the course, three short MCQ tests during term, and a practical.


The module examines the importance of water in the global environmental system. The module will introduce the major reservoirs of water on Earth: from the vast oceans, to rivers, snow and ice caps, and the role of water as a “fuel” for our weather and climate. There will be the opportunity to learn how human activities are changing our environment and the key role of water for shaping these changes. The practical will allow students to apply their knowledge to some real world research-orientated issues.


  • - The global water cycle
  • - Water and its basic physical and chemical properties
  • - Water in the atmosphere: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, clouds, observing water vapour from space
  • - Water and climate: water vapour as a greenhouse gas, role of water vapour in climate change, flooding
  • - Water in the oceans: the global ocean circulation and water transport, geochemistry and biodiversity
  • - Water as ice: sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets
  • - Water on land: rainfall, drainage, rivers, water pollution, human impacts on water quality

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this module students will:

  • - understand the main ways in which water shapes the global environmental system;
  • - understand the global water cycle and the connections between the major reservoirs of water in the environmental system (ie atmosphere, oceans, ice etc);
  • - have knowledge of some of the major themes related to water in the environment including: climate change, sea ice and glaciers, the oceans and ocean biodiversity, hydrology, water quality, and flooding.

Assessment and teaching

Assessment and teaching


Assesment type Notes % of formal assesment
Practical In class practical assessment 30
Total percentages (Assessment Coursework) 30


Exam type Exam duration % of formal assessment
Unseen exam 1 hr 0 mins 70
Total Percentage (Assesment Exams) 70

Private Study

Independent online learning and private study: Time for private reading to back up lectures (2x15=30hrs), preparation for practical (4hrs), and preparation for unseen exam (49hrs).

Progress Monitoring

Students will receive formative feedback via MCQ exercises during the course. These will help students prepare for the unseen examination at the end of the course. Students will undertake a practical that will be assisted by some of the module lecturing team and demonstrators (pending approval) giving the opportunity for further feedback.

Teaching methods

Delivery type Number Length hours Student hours
Lecture 15 1 15
Practical 2 1 2
Private Study Hours 83
Total Contact Hours 17
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits) 100

Reading List

Reading List
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