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Unit information: Health protection: Environmental, chemical and radiological hazards and occupational health in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

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 Health protection: Environmental, chemical and radiological hazards and occupational health
Unit code BRMSM0005
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Frank De Vocht
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Medical School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


This unit aims to equip students with an understanding of contribution of the general and occupational environments to population health, and the role of chemical exposures therein. Students will gain knowledge about basic toxicological principles and an understanding of important environmental and occupational chemical, radiological and physical hazards, as well as on the impact of major national and global public health events including climate change and natural disasters such as flooding. Students will gain practical experience and knowledge of the measurement, assessment and modelling of exposures in the outdoor and indoor general environments and the occupational environment, and gain an understanding of how these are used to estimate health risks in these settings using epidemiological and risk assessment methods.

Students will be considering the public health impact, framework of response and the legal framework of environmental and occupational disasters. Students will discuss the ethical issues related to environmental and occupational hazards, including the ALARA and precautionary principles, throughout.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit students will be able to

  1. Be aware of and describe important environmental and occupational hazards and discuss their impact on public health.
  2. Describe and explain the basic toxicological concepts relevant to chemical hazards
  3. Understand how chemical and physical exposures are measured, and be able to model and assess these.
  4. Understand how exposure assessment and epidemiology inform risk assessments, and be able to conduct a basic risk assessment
  5. Explain multi-agency response arrangements and epidemiological approaches to protect public health during acute environmental incidents and natural disasters
  6. Discuss current and future challenges in the field of environmental and occupational health both the in UK and globally.

Teaching details

The unit will consist of 10 teaching weeks, plus a reading and a revision week.

Contact hours will include campus-based lectures (10 hours) and practicals, including group-work (15 hours). In addition, students will engage with self-study in the form of suggested reading, quizzes, multi-media resources and completion of assessments (75 hours).

Assessment Details

Formative assessments will support student learning by using exercises, quizzes and group exercises.

Summative assessment is split between a group assessment and closed-booked exam. A group project will be run, based on the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s monograph working group process for evaluating evidence on carcinogens. Results will be presented in a research colloquium style. This forms 30% of the overall unit mark.

The unit is assessed by a 1-hour closed-book exam (70%) (ILOs 1-6). The exam will assess all intended learning outcomes. It will contain short-answer and multiple-choice questions.

A score of 50% will be required to pass the module.

Reading and References

Reading and References*

There is no set course textbook.

Recommended reading

  1. Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Working with substances hazardous to health.
  2. Health and Safety Executive (HSE). EH40/2005 Workplace exposure limits.
  3. HM Government. Emergency Response and Recovery.
  4. //, M.J. (ed). (2008) Environmental Epidemiology: Study methods and application. Oxford University Press.
  5. Checkoway, H., Pearce, N.E., Kriebel, D. (2004). Research Methods in Occupational Epidemiology. 2nd ed.