Monitoring Water Environments GEOG5114

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course deals with developing skills in the operation and analysis of water environment monitoring methods and technologies. It also covers the theoretical basis and offers practical experience in measuring biological, chemical and physical properties of a range of water bodies including limnetic, oceanic and fluvial. Principles of small- and large-scale monitoring networks are considered with respect to sustainability.


1 hour lecture for 10 weeks

4 day residential field class in middle of semester

NB: Transport and accommodation for the field class are included for those on the MSc in Sustainable Water programme. Other students will be required to fund the field course themselves.

Requirements of Entry

Normally this course is only available to students enrolled on the MSc in Sustainable Water programme

Excluded Courses



1. An essay of no more than 3,000 words based on themes introduced in the lecture material. (50%)

2. A report on the techniques and results taught during the residential field course. (50%)

Main Assessment In: December

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 


Field class elements are not normally able to be reassessed although the resulting field class report may be reassessed.

Course Aims

■ Develop student's ability to analyse, critique and evaluate methodologies for monitoring biological, chemical and physical properties in a range of water bodies including limnetic, oceanic and fluvial systems.

■ Measure and quantify the linking of water bodies, specifically the fluxes of water, energy and nutrients.

■ Critically analyse monitoring data sets, including practical applications and limitations.

■ Examine the capabilities of large- vs. small-scale monitoring methodologies and their relevance and incorporation into global challenges.

■ Critically assess the need for detailed measurements and understanding of biogeochemical processes in aquatic systems in the sphere of a changing world and a path towards sustainability.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Determine appropriate methodological and experimental design approaches to answer specific questions on aquatic system functioning.

■ Design and implement experimental procedures for laboratory and field data collection.

■ Conduct appropriate data processing and analysis.

■ Demonstrate a practical ability to operate a range of monitoring instrumentation, collect the data and extrapolate to address scientific / societal questions.

■ Evaluate the factors affecting bias in different sampling methods.

■ Critically evaluate the challenges associated with a holistic, global water monitoring system.

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.


Students must attend the field class to be awarded credit for this course