Environmental Chemistry and Physics


The module provides an introduction to the fundamental chemical and physical concepts required to understand the environment behaviour of matter.

Theoretical concepts will be introduced in lectures and through online resources, and their application demonstrated within an environmental context through laboratory practicals and in-class problem-solving exercises.

Specific environmental topics covered include:

  • The unique properties of water that enable life
  • The environmental behaviour of specific elements and classes of compounds, including carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles
  • Important classes of chemical reactions in the environment, such as redox reactions
  • Important physical constants such as oil-water partition coefficients
  • Atmospheric composition and air pollution, radioactive decay and the application of stable and unstable isotopes in dating techniques, chemistry of rocks, soils and sediments, chemistry of natural waters


  • Lectures: 30 hours
  • Laboratory Practicals: 20 hours



  • Laboratory Practical write-ups (50 %)
  • Final Exam (50 %)

The exam will include a set of compulsory short questions and a choice of longer questions.


  • Resubmission of Practical write-ups (30 %)
  • Set Essay (20 %)
  • Final Exam (50 %)

Key skills

  • Analytical and laboratory skills
  • Data capture, analysis and interpretation
  • Problem solving
  • Numeracy and literacy
  • Team work and individual work