A comprehensive training in the theory and practice of groundwater science and engineering, providing an excellent basis for careers in scientific, engineering and environmental consultancies, water companies, major industries, research, and government scientific and regulatory services in the UK and abroad.
Modules encompass the full range of groundwater studies and are supported by practical field sessions and computing and hydrogeological modelling based on industry standard software.
This is a vocational programme relevant to graduates with good Honours degrees in appropriate subjects (for example, Geosciences, Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biosciences, and Environmental Sciences). It is important to have a good knowledge of mathematics.
The lecture component of the programme encompasses the full range of hydrogeology. Modules cover drilling, well design, aquifer test analysis, laboratory test analysis, groundwater flow, hydrogeophysics, inorganic chemistry of groundwaters, organic contamination of groundwater, contaminated land and remediation, groundwater modelling, contaminant transport, hydrology, and groundwater resources assessment.
These lecture modules are supported by practical field sessions, and by computing and hydrogeological modelling based on industry standard software. Integration of concepts developed in the taught programmes is facilitated through student-centred investigations of current issues linked to a diverse range of hydrogeological environments.
Examinations are held in January and April. From May onwards, you undertake a project, a report on which is submitted in September.
Projects may be field-, laboratory-, or modelling- based, and are usually of an applied nature, although a few are research-orientated. Our chemical (inorganic and organic), rock testing, computing, geophysical and borehole-logging equipment is available for you to use during this period.
Career openings include those with consulting engineering and environmental firms, government scientific services and regional water companies, both in this country and abroad. Demand for hydrogeologists is substantial and students from the course are highly regarded by employers.
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.
The Pollution Management option focuses on the interface and interaction between science, technology, and policy in the environment. There is an emphasis on local issues, but these are inescapably set within the context of regional and global developments. We draw on best practice in the UK and Western Europe, applied not only here but also in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas.
In Western Europe and North America, many short-range pollution problems of past decades have been solved, but business and industry find themselves operating in an environment where the public and government demand ever more stringent environmental standards. Other parts of the world might be seen as following some way behind this trend and learning from it, including where examples of acute local and regional pollution remain in a context of a pressing need for rapid socio-economic development. Globalisation is an additional, external source of pressure on every nation to meet the highest environmental standards that are increasingly prevalent elsewhere. In many cases, however, developing countries have an opportunity to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes. In particular, the trend of the past was for environmental protection to be an expensive luxury. Today, it is possible to find a different and more efficient path to a better quality of life for everyone, now and in the future, by protecting the environment in a way that leads simultaneously to an increase in economic prosperity. There is therefore continued growth in demand for graduates with expertise in pollution management:
Responses to pollution at least must reassure the public it is safe, or allow adaptation to or protection from its effects. A better approach is to control concentrations of a pollutant in the environment, but the best solution is to prevent its formation in the first place.
Integrated Pollution, Prevention and Control is a major development in this area, pioneered in the UK and now led by the European Union, bringing together management, planning, and communication as well as end-of-pipe technological solutions. But this needs to mesh with other kinds of regulatory and voluntary initiatives, especially where non-industrial sources of pollution including transport and agriculture make an important contribution, in more and less developed countries alike.
The Option is divided into six modules, covering all the major areas of environmental concern, and there is a significant interdisciplinary element throughout, reflecting the philosophy of the MSc as a whole. They should not be considered as stand-alone, but should be seen as a closely integrated whole:
Environment and Health
Air Pollution and Climate Control
Waste and Resource Management
Environmental Decision Making and Tools
Environmental Pollution and Assessment
Water Technology and Pollution
The majority of the graduates enter environmental consultancy both in the UK and abroad usually within the risk assessment and contaminated land areas. A second path of graduates is to regulatory agencies/government bodies such as the Environment Agency of England & Wales and the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Other paths have included further study, the retail sector and banking. To date, the Option has had an excellent track record of employment with over 90% of graduates employed within 12 months of completing the MSc.
• PhD, Technical University of Athens
• Projects Manager, British Council, Brazil
• Environmental Health Officer, London Borough of Newham
• Assistant Director, Science & Technology Division, Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment Malaysia
• Field Engineer, Schlumberger (Angola)
• Senior Consultant, Arthur D. Little
• General Director, Environmental Management, Environment Ministry, Mexico
• Partner and Director of UK Environmental Services, Price Waterhouse Coopers
• Technical Director, Stanger Science & Technology
• Senior Lecturer, Roehampton University
• Quality Control Engineer, Chiyoda Corporation, Doha, Qatar
• Head of Environmental Audit, Body Shop International
• Head of Solid Waste Control, Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department