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Course content

Air pollution damages human health, ecosystems and vegetation, and is expected to worsen in many regions. Every year, air pollution costs EU economies US$ 1.6 trillion and is linked to 7 million premature deaths globally. Developing effective strategies for the management and control of air pollution is a key environmental challenge facing society today.

This course is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the causes and effects of air pollution, and the management measures and engineering technologies available for its control. This is a recognised and sought after qualification within the professional environmental field in the UK and abroad. Students successfully completing the course find employment as air quality experts within environmental consultancies, industry or local government departments.

Accreditation

This programme is accredited by the Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences (CHES), the education committee of the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES). CHES is the collective voice of the environmental sciences academic community and serves to enhance the quality of environmental education worldwide. A programme accredited by CHES is assured to meet high standards, contain a strong component of practical, field and theoretical activities, and has excellent opportunities for training, work experience and links to the professional environmental sector. Students enrolled on CHES accredited programmes can apply for free Student Membership of the IES and for a fast-track route to membership once they graduate, starting you on a route towards becoming a Chartered Environmentalist or Chartered Scientist.

The programme is also accredited by the Institute of Air Quality Management

Course details

The course combines taught modules with an independent major research project. The taught modules introduce the nature of our atmosphere, its composition and meteorology, air pollutant emissions, air pollution chemistry and climate change / carbon management, together with the practical measures used to limit emissions from sources ranging from power stations to vehicles and the legislative and policy framework used by national and local authorities to enforce air quality objectives. The research project allows students to undertake an in-depth investigation of a particular aspect of air pollution of interest to them, and further their level of understanding.

This programme is run by the Division of Environmental Health and Risk Management.

About the Division of Environmental Health and Risk Management

The Division is based in the well-equipped, purpose-built facilities of the University's Public Health Building. Research attracts extensive funding from many sources, including the Department of Transport; the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA); the Environment Agency; the Department of Health; the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and European Union.  The collaborative nature of much of this work, together with the mix of pure, strategic and applied research, often involving interdisciplinary teams spanning physical, biological, chemical, medical and social sciences, provides a dynamic and internationally recognised research environment.

The Division is led by Professor Roy Harrison who is a member of the U.K. government’s Air Quality Expert GroupCommittee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, and Committee on Toxicity. He often gives media interviews on subjects including the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

Learning and teaching

Computing

You will have access to common software tools used to model air pollution (for example, ADMS and the DMRB as used by many local authorities). These are used in teaching sessions/workshops, and also available for research projects. We also have experience with more specialised packages such as CMAQ for research project use.

Laboratories and Atmospheric Measurement Instrumentation

We are well equipped for atmospheric measurements. Instrumentation available for the measurement of atmospheric particulates (aerosols) ranges from hand-held particle monitors which may be taken into homes and buildings, through various manual and automated filter sampling systems, to TEOM instruments as used for air quality monitoring. On the research side, we operate a number of Aerosol particle Spectrometers and an Aerosol Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer. For gaseous pollutants, monitors are available to monitor ozone, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, in addition to gas chromatographs which can detect a wide range of organic compounds. The School operates its own weather station, and various meteorological instrumentation is available. 

Other laboratory analytical instrumentation includes GC-MS and LC-MS instruments, ion chromatography and atomic absorption spectrometers which can measure a wide range of environmental constituents and pollutants. Training and guidance on the use of instrumentation is available if you are interested in using these facilities for your research projects.

Teaching

The MSc in Air Pollution Management and Control is taught by staff from the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences.

Teaching is delivered through lectures, workshops and problem sessions, and off-campus visits to sites with specific air pollution problems (e.g. an incinerator, landfill site, local air quality monitoring station). We also visit a £15m facility built to study the impact of climate change on terrestrial carbon cycle at the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR). In order to give our students experience of the Management and Control aspects of the course, we make visits to Birmingham City Council Air Quality Group and to the Tyseley Energy Recovery Facility. Teaching sessions are supplemented by online resources which may be accessed remotely and students own (guided) personal reading.

A feature of the course is the use of external speakers to deliver an expert view through lectures and workshops on specific aspects. These range from experts such as Professor Robert Maynard (formerly Head of Air Pollution for the Department of Health) and Professor Dick Derwent (atmospheric ozone modelling and policy advice) to recent course graduates, now working in consultancy and local government, who run workshop sessions on pollutant dispersion modelling.


Visit the Air Pollution Management and Control - MSc/Diploma page on the University of Birmingham website for more details!

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