Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Environmental Aqueous Geochemistry EARTH4087

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This subject will introduce students systematically to the governing concepts and principles controlling the chemistry of natural waters. It will present this information both qualitatively and quantitatively in the context of natural water-rock interactions and biogeochemical processes, as well as engineered water quality and strategies for remediating aqueous contaminants. It will illustrate these concepts through effective hands-on learning practices (including fieldwork), as well as reinforce scientific and critical thinking skills.


8 classes (3 hr sessions) over 5 weeks. Normally 4 days of field class. 

Requirements of Entry

Normally completion of all credit-bearing courses from Earth Science Level 2 at an average Grade C3 or better, achieving at least a Grade of D3 in each individual course and attendance at a Level 2 residential field class.

This course is also suitable for students on Engineering and Chemistry programmes.

Excluded Courses

EARTH4039 - Hydrogeology and Environmental Geosciences

EARTH4075 - Hydrogeology and Environmental Geochemistry


Written exam (50%), integrated field report (50%)

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses


Course Aims

 To provide an understanding of the chemical factors controlling the composition and quality of natural waters at the intersections of the geosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere, with particular focus on impacts to human/animal health.

 To provide training in tools for assessing and mediating the reactivity and toxicity of dissolved or particulate pollutants from natural and anthropogenic sources.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

 explain and assess the environmental and anthropogenic processes that control composition of natural waters in geological materials

 conceptually and numerically model the reactivity/toxicity of aqueous environmental contaminants in soils, sediments, wetlands and aquifers in natural and engineered systems

 design and evaluate remediation strategies, using field and analytical data for real-world examples of water pollution

 critically assess uncertainties in hydro/geochemical data and modelling

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.