Module details for Introduction to Environmental Sciences


The module provides an introduction to environmental science for students with varied academic backgrounds and interests (e.g. biologists, engineers, etc.), in which the underlying biology, ecology, chemistry, and human factors driving environmental change are introduced.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with an introduction to the key concepts and themes in biology, ecology, chemistry, and anthropomorphic factors, which are essential for a broad understanding of modern environmental science.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Describe biological diversity in the context of ecosystems (including local geology), niches and ecological roles, and how key species can be identified and monitored.

2.  Explain how species interact in ecosystems using webs and trophic interactions, and how disturbances can affect the entire system.

3.  Describe nutrient cycles and how key chemicals can be assayed. Explain the prevalence and cycling of pollutants.

4.  Explain how human activities affect ecosystems, webs and biocheochemical cycles, and how this has a long-term impact on environments.

5.  Appreciate how biology, ecology, chemistry and anthropomorphic factors are linked and integrated in environmental science.

Indicative Content

1 Biological diversity

Biological diversity, understanding how species are identified, niches and ecological roles.

2 The importance of ecosystems

The importance of ecosystems, webs and trophic interactions in an ecological context.

3 Understanding ecosystems

Understanding ecosystems in the context of local geology, topography and hydrology.

4 Role of nutrient cycles

The role of nutrient cycles and impact of pollutants in the environment; analytical technics for quantifying key chemicals.

5 Biogeochemical processes

Biogeochemical processes, nutrient cycles; interconnectedness of spheres (atmosphere, biosphere, ocean sphere, cryosphere, geosphere).

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

For session 2020/21 the expectation is that the teaching and learning hours stated in this descriptor will form a mix of synchronous and asynchronous student/staff activity, with the majority of this being online. The exact pattern of this activity is likely to vary from the standard face-to-face hours listed below but the overall student effort remains the same. Up-to-date information on the delivery of the module can be found on the relevant module MLS site and on your student timetable.

Teaching and Learning Method Hours
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 4
Practical Activity 8
Assessment 24
Independent 140
Total 200

Guidance notes

SCQF Level - The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework provides an indication of the complexity of award qualifications and associated learning and operates on an ascending numeric scale from Levels 1-12 with SCQF Level 10 equating to a Scottish undergraduate Honours degree.

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2020/21 , and may be subject to change for future years.