Hydrogeology is the study of groundwater; an essential component of the world’s water supply. More than 2 billion people depend on groundwater for their daily needs (approximately 30% of water supplied in the UK is groundwater).
The aim of our Hydrogeology MSc Course is to provide students who have a good scientific or engineering background with a comprehensive training in the fundamentals of groundwater science and engineering, together with considerable practical experience.
The School is well supported and you will have the use of all equipment and facilities appropriate to your work:
You will have access to the multiple clusters of PCs in the University Learning Centre and Library, and the School-based Earth Imaging Laboratory. The MSc course also has its own dedicated room for teaching and study with six PCs for convenient access to email, web and on-line learning resources.
The University based computers have an extensive range of software installed that covers the needs of students of all disciplines, but in common with the School-based PCs, specialist software packages used routinely by professional hydrogeologists are installed for our MSc students. These include industry standard groundwater flow modelling, contaminant transport modelling, geochemical modelling, geophysical interpretation and field and laboratory hydraulic test analysis packages. You can also register for more specialist software on the University high speed BlueBEAR computing facility if your individual project requires it. Research software developed within the Water Sciences research group is also available.
The School is well equipped for inorganic and organic chemical analysis of field and laboratory samples. Facilities include: Total Organic Carbon analysis, Gas Chromatography, ICP Mass Spectrometry, Ion Chromatography, Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry and Luminescence and UV/visible spectroscopy. These facilities have been used in a wide range of MSc projects, for both standard geochemical analysis of groundwater samples and for more specific purposes including studies of persistent organic pollutants and toxic heavy metals in the environment, and denitrification in river beds.
The School also has a dedicated microbiology laboratory equipped with an autoclave for sterilizing media and equipment, a class II safety cabinet for handing microbial samples, and incubators.
Facilities are also available within the School and elsewhere for geological material analysis, including thin section preparation and microscopy, a wide range of electron microscopy techniques, XRD, pore size distribution determination, and surface area measurement.
The School has two field sites on campus for use by MSc students and research staff. Both consist of arrays of boreholes drilled into the underlying sandstone aquifer to depths of up to 60m.
The groundwater group is well stocked with field equipment, which is used extensively in research projects, for teaching, and particularly on individual MSc projects. This equipment includes pumping test equipment (submersible pumps, generators, packers, digital pressure transducers, data loggers, divers, dip meters, pipe-work and installation frames); chemical sampling and tracer transport equipment (depth samplers, sampling pumps, tracer test equipment and field fluorimeter, hand held EC, pH and EH probes, portable chemical lab kit); geophysical equipment (resistivity imaging, electromagnetic surveying, ground penetrating radar, and borehole logging); and a secure, towable, mobile laboratory for off-site testing.
Fieldwork and projects transform theory into practice and form a large part of the course. They are supported by extensive field, laboratory and technical facilities.
A weeklong course of practical work and site visits is held in Week 7 of the Autumn Term. The content varies from year to year, but typically includes pumping tests, small-scale field tests, chemical sampling, and geophysics using the research boreholes on campus. Visits to landfill sites, water resources schemes, wetlands, and drilling sites are also arranged in collaboration with the Environment Agency, consultants and landfill operators. During the Spring Term, field demonstrations are provided by chemical sampling equipment distributors and manufacturers. You will gain further field experience either during your own 4.5 month project or when helping your colleagues on other projects.
Individual projects are undertaken from the beginning of May through to the middle of September. Projects are chosen from a list of around 40 topics suggested by the staff and outside organizations. We are also happy to consider projects of your own devising: sometimes, for example, if you are already in employment you may wish to undertake a project associated with the job you will return to.
Projects may be associated with outside organizations, typically consultants, the Environment Agency, or the British Geological Survey. However, all projects are supervised by one or more of the academic staff: the projects are not placements, but well-focused pieces of work.
Other projects are associated with research programmes within the School, and these will often involve PhD students and research staff. Usually there are a few opportunities for overseas projects, and in recent years students have undertaken projects in France, Brazil, Argentina, El Salvador, and South Africa.
Recent example projects include:
- The migration of viruses through sandstone aquifers
- The impact of groundwater abstraction on the Potford and Platt surface water catchment, Shropshire
- Dewatering assessment for an African cement mine
- Modelling the effect of fracture morphology on hydraulic properties
- An investigation of chlorinated solvent plume discharge and attenuation in river beds
- Modelling a groundwater dam in an alluvial ribbon-valley in Pernambuco, NE Brazil
- Developing a water management strategy for industrial abstractions in Trafford Park, Manchester
- Estimation of local-scale contaminant fluxes in groundwater via multilevel piezometers
- A hydrogeological classification and ranking system for site environmental assessment of the ground storage of building energy
- Geochemical processes in an arsenic and fluoride contaminated aquifer, Cordoba Province, Argentina
- Sustainable management of groundwater resources in the Rosario-Mimoso Valley, NE Brazil
- Investigation into the behaviour of organic gasworks contaminants at complex multi-source sites
- Investigation of the attenuation capacity of the Triassic Sandstones for heavy metals using the geochemical model PHREEQC
- The development of a flow meter for hyporheic zone (sub-river zone) flows
All students give a presentation on their project in July, when you will also be interviewed by the External Examiner for the Course.
Some modules are assessed through coursework alone. The remainder are assessed by one examination in January and four in April, after which you will undertake an extended individual project.