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School of Environment, Education and Development

BSc Geography and Geology with a year abroad

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Urban Geoscience and Contaminated Land Projects

Unit code EART20352
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No




You must have successfully completed the first year of a Geoscience or Environmental Science programme.


  • To build upon individual and team project based working in the first year by studying the past, present and potential future of selected UK cities in the context of natural resourceexploitation, urban development and environmental impact, mitigation and clean-up
  • Examine how a city’s geology and wider natural environment have influenced itsdevelopment and land use over time, especially since the Industrial Revolution andthroughout the 20th and into the 21st centuries.
  • Investigate the underpinning science of how urban development, and city specificindustries, have left legacies of environmental degradation at and below the surfacethroughout brownfield sites, and more widely, across city landscapes.
  • Understand how regulatory frameworks and environmental technologies can help in theremediation of legacy environmental degradation, and in the control and mitigation ofcurrent and future development activities.
  • Key topics will include: ‘pollutant sources and sinks’; ‘source pathway receptor model forenvironmental pollution’; water utilities; quarrying; mining and other heavy industries;and industrial and domestic waste disposal.
  • Explore the relationship between environmental problems in cities and the widersociological, technological, economic and political factors that influence urbandevelopment
  • Develop academic and professional skills, including: literature review, media monitoring,essay and report writing, team working, project management and presentation skills

Teaching and learning methods


Knowledge and understanding

  • How geology and physical geography, in particular natural subsurface resources, influence urban development over time.
  • How urban and industrial development perturb the natural environment in the contexts of solid and drift geology, physical geography, soils and sediments, hydrology and hydrogeology, and ecosystems (including human health)
  • Develop enhanced understanding of sustainable development and its underlying principles.
  • Recognise the complexity of environmental problem solving.
  • Understand the competing and conflicting pressures on natural resource exploitation and the wider environment.
  • Explain the relationship between urban and industrial growth, sustainable development and environmental impact.
  • Evaluate the impact of different industries on the urban environment.
  • Discuss the complexity of urban environmental issues and how they are presented in the popular media

Intellectual skills

  • Demonstrate judgement in accessing university level information resources, coupled with awareness of the variation in level and quality across the wider spectrum of information resources.
  •  Demonstrate capability in problem solving and critical thinking.

Practical skills

  • Write individual and co-authored academically focused documents.
  • Make oral presentations and demonstrate ability in defending an academic argument.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop project management and team working skills.
  • Reflectively appraise individual and group, academic and professional, performance.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 15%
Report 30%
Portfolio 15%
Oral assessment/presentation 25%
Set exercise 15%
  • Individual professional project diary including notes of all project activities, minutes of all meetings and discussions 15%
  • Individual weekly ‘media diary’ journal exercise culminating in a short essay Media diary 1 page weekly, Essay: ~500 words 15%
  • Individual reflective portfolio of appraisals addressing individual and team professional performance and academic learning 500 words 15%
  • Group project report (individual student marks moderated via assessment of individual written and verbal contributions to group outputs, and inter-peer assessment of individual project contributions) 10,000 words 30%
  • Final team presentation 15 minutes 25%


Recommended reading

Urban Geoscience, McCall, De Mulder and Marker (editors), Balkema, 1996.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 24
Independent study hours
Independent study 76

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Colin Hughes Unit coordinator

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