From Molecules to Materials: deconstructing the environment

Description

This module provides an introduction to the fundamental building blocks of matter and how they interact to the provide a habitable and functioning environment.  Focus will be on deconstructing the building blocks of the environment in order to understand how they fit together. 

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. 

In semester 1:

Specific environmental and geological topics covered include :

The unique properties of water that enable life; the environmental behaviour of specific elements and classes of compounds, including biogeochemical cycles (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus; mercury etc.); important classes of chemical reactions in the environment, such as acid-base and redox reactions; radioactive decay and the application of stable and unstable isotopes in geochemistry and pollution monitoring; chemistry of rocks, soils and sediments, and natural waters. 

In semester: 2

Environmental topics covered / expanded upon include:

The environmental behaviour of specific elements and classes of compounds, including carbon and its compounds, polymers, surfactants, colloids and nanoparticles etc; further important examples of chemical reactions in the environment, such as acid-base and redox reactions as applied in wastewater treatment (for example); chemistry of the atmosphere - anthropogenic inputs.

Assessment

  • 1 x laboratory notebook (50%)
  • 1.5 hour Exam (50 %)