This MSc course addresses scientific, technological and legislative aspects of the diagnosis (analysis and assessment) and management (remediation and restoration) of important environmental issues concerned with contaminated land, water quality, air pollution and waste.
It has been designed with industry advice to enable good science and engineering graduates begin and advance successful careers in the environmental sector, and pursue postgraduate scientific research. The MSc is delivered in first-class teaching and research facilities by a dedicated team of internationally renowned environmental scientists, and presents considerable interaction with environmental consultancies and engineers, industry, local and regulatory authorities, and research institutes.
During 2007-2011, the course was supported by 6 NERC studentships, the most awarded annually to an environmental MSc. Students on the course have won the most EMpower research projects funded by companies within the nuclear industry, and since 2008, a Prize for Best Performance Overall has been awarded annually by Arup, a global environmental engineering and consultancy company.
- The quality of teaching and learning on the course is enhanced considerably by significant professional networking and interaction with leading experts from environmental consultants and engineers, industry, local and regulatory authorities, and universities and research institutes; who present seminars, host study visits, co-supervise research projects, and act as an advisory panel.
- Graduates of the course are skilled and knowledgeable scientists with excellent employment prospects within the environmental sector, particularly as environmental consultants and engineers, in local and regulatory authorities, industry, charitable trusts, and research institutes and universities.
- In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), the Department’s research was ranked equal 6th in the UK with 70% rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
Course content and structure
You will study seven taught modules, three case studies and complete an Independent Research Project:
- Communication & Co-operation Skills Provides practical training in written and verbal communication media; project, team and time management; role playing in environmental impact assessment; careers advice and a mock job interview.
- Environmental Inorganic Analysis A practical laboratory and field-work based introduction to quality assured sampling strategies, preparation processes and analytical methods for heavy metals in soils, surface waters, and vegetation.
- Diagnostic & Management Tools Provides practical computer-based training in statistical analysis of environmental data, geographical information systems, and environmental risk assessment.
- Environmental Organic Chemistry Pathways Toxicology Comprises physical and chemical properties, transport, fate and distribution, and toxicology of organic compounds in the environment.
- Contaminated Land Case Study A practical laboratory and field-work based human health risk assessment of pollutant linkages at a former gravel extraction and landfill site. It comprises desk-top study, site investigation and sampling, laboratory analysis, data interpretation, quantitative risk assessment, and remediation options.
- Water Quality: Diagnosis & Management A practical laboratory and field-work based introduction to aquatic science, hydrogeology, treatment of water and wastewater, and chemical, biological and physical monitoring of water quality. Includes a study visit to a global manufacturer of pesticides and herbicides.
- River Thames Basin Case Study A combination of fieldwork, laboratory work and desk-top study to diagnose water quality in chemical and ecological terms, to identify industrial and agricultural pollutant linkages, and to determine environmental, ecological and health impacts.
- Air Pollution: Monitoring, Impacts & Management Covers: sources, sinks, dispersion, conversion, monitoring, impacts and management of air pollutants with study visits to a local authority and a government research institute.
- Royal Holloway Campus Air Quality Case Study Involves a consultancy company-style investigation of ambient and indoor air quality within the confines of RHUL campus; and combines desk-top research with practical fieldwork and laboratory analysis.
- Waste Management & Utilisation Considers municipal, industrial and radioactive waste management options, with study visits to a landfill site, a waste incinerator, composting facility, recycling centre and nuclear power station.
- Independent Research Project Consists of a four-month, independent scientific investigation, usually in collaboration with environmental consultants and engineers, local and regulatory authorities, industry, research institutes, and universities. Projects may comprise a desk-top study or practical laboratory and field investigation, they may be funded, and often lead to employment or to PhD research. Final results are presented at the Research Project Symposium to an audience from within the environmental sector
On completion of the course graduates will have acquired the experience, knowledge, and critical understanding to enable them to:
- Conduct themselves as professional environmental research scientists, consultants, and managers, convey in a professional manner, scientific, technical and managerial information, and manage projects and resources efficiently
- Apply quality assured sampling strategies, preparation procedures and analytical systems to quantify health risks posed by inorganic and organic pollutant linkages in soils, waters and air
- Apply statistical analysis, geographical information systems, and environmental impact and risk assessment to the interpretation of environmental data
- Appreciate the importance and impacts of hydro-geological, and bio- and physico-chemical processes on the treatment of water and wastewater, and on the quality of groundwater and aquatic ecosystems
- Appreciate the emissions, dispersion, conversion, and monitoring of natural and man-made gaseous and particulate air pollutants, their impacts on climate change, human health and vegetation, and management on local, regional and global scales
- Appreciate the prevention, re-use, recycling, recovery, disposal and utilisation of municipal and industrial waste and the management of nuclear waste within the constraints of national and international legislation
- Manage an independent environmental science research project, often with professional collaboration, and of significant value to their career development.
- Written examinations test understanding of the principles and concepts taught in the modules and case studies, and the ability to integrate and apply them to environmental diagnosis and management.
- Assessment of module work and practical computing, laboratory and fieldwork evaluates critical understanding of the environmental science taught, and mastery of producing quality assured data, and its analysis, interpretation, presentation and reporting.
- Assessment also reflects the ability to work independently and in teams, and to learn during study visits.
- Assessment of research projects is based on the ability to manage and report on an original piece of independent scientific work.
- All assessed work has significant confidential written and verbal feedback.
Employability & career opportunities
94% of the graduates of the MSc from 2008 to 2013 either successfully secured first-destination employment as international environmental consultants and engineers, in industry, local and regulatory authorities and charitable trusts, or are conducting postgraduate research within international research institutes and universities.