Skip to main content

Unit information: Environmental Field Analysis in 2016/17

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Environmental Field Analysis
Unit code EASCM0023
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Sherman
Open unit status Not open

Successful completion of years 1, 2 and 3 of the Environmental Geoscience degree programme curriculum



School/department School of Earth Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science


This unit will give practical experience in sampling and analyses of water and sediments in streams and lakes. We will use both field-based analytical techniques and instrumental methods in the laboratory. The study will explore Lake Windermere and its watershed. From our analytical data, we will

(1) identify how weathering and atmospheric inputs control stream water chemistry

(2) estimate riverine fluxes into Lake Windermere

(3) identify the biogeochemical processes occurring in the lake, and

(4) estimate the nature and significance of anthropogenic fluxes in to the lake system.

The study will be summarised by a box model for the chemistry of Lake Windermere.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the class you will be able to:

  • Plan and undertake a concerted field sampling campaign focused on natural waters and sediments.
  • Understand the pitfalls encountered in collecting and preparing samples for a range of chemical analyses.
  • Record field data relevant to future analysis of the geochemical data.
  • Understand and undertake a range of sample preparation methods and analytical approaches.
  • Work effectively in a team to meet a strict deadline in both field and laboratory conditions.
  • Interpret geochemical data using thermodynamic models.
  • Seek out, using literature and web resources, missing data that is required for the data synthesis.
  • Prepare a written report on the results in the style of a scientific paper.

Teaching details

Practical laboratory work including 2 lectures in the labs, fieldwork and 3 on-site lectures. Lab and on-site lectures will last approximately one hour.

Assessment Details

The course will be assessed (100%) by a written report that describes the field problem, reviews the existing literature, outlines the methods used, presents the analytical data and provides an interpretation of the results. The report should be no more than 20 pages, excluding figures and tables. Part of the overall assessment (15%) will be based on the quality of both the written and graphical presentation.

Reading and References

A number of key papers will be provided to help students begin their literature search. However, as part of the synthesis of the geochemical data, and the writing of the report, students will be expected to undertake their own research in the literature to obtain both the background material they require and key pieces of data that we do not obtain in the field.