Environmental Geology and Contamination
Informed and taught by environmental experts in the field
Why take this course?
The UK has a significant legacy of contaminants as a consequence of a long history of industrial activity. These pollutants can pose a major risk to human health and the environment.
This course is designed to provide you with the particular expertise required for dealing with contaminated sites. Such expertise is essential to ensuring we maintain habitable, safe and sustainable communities.
What will I experience?
On this course you can:
- Use our state-of-the-art geological and geotechnic labs for practical work
- Get hands-on experience of using instruments such as GPS, Total Stations and 3D laser scanners
- Be taught by recognised experts with extensive knowledge in groundwater hydrology, environmental geology and contaminated land
What opportunities might it lead to?
We will give you the knowledge and practical skills to ensure an interesting and rewarding career in the specialist area of contaminated land consultancy, regulation and remediation, both in the UK and overseas.
Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:
- environmental organisations
- geotechnical consultancies
- mining companies
- local authorities
- government agencies
The University in general, and the School in particular, have good facilities for postgraduates, including dedicated workrooms, computer labs and a postgraduate suite in the library.
Angela Parker, environmental sciences student 2013
- 1 year full time, 2 years part time
- A 2:2 honours degree in an Earth Science, Civil Engineering, Chemistry or Environmental Science discipline. Relevant industrial and work experience will be considered on an individual basis. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.
UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2016/17 entry: full time: £6,400 part time: £3,200 p/a*
2017/18 entry: full time: £6,400 part time: £3,200 p/a*
2016/17 entry: full time: £13,700 part time: £6,850 p/a*
2017/18 entry: full time: £14,400 part time: £7,200 p/a*
*Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.
+44 (0)23 9284 5566
- School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
- Programme specification
Structure & Teaching
You can opt to take this course in full-time or part-time mode. The course is divided into three parts. The first two comprise the taught units of the course covering the key conceptual, institutional and applied bases of the subject. The third focuses on your dissertation.
This course covers a mixture of topics including: groundwater hydrology, geochemistry, site investigation, geotechnics and contaminated land assessment.
Here are the units you will study:
- Soil Mechanics: This unit is fundamental to understanding how contaminants behave and migrate in the ground. You will gain an advanced understanding of the geo-mechanical behaviour of soils, including the description and testing of soils to UK and international standards.
- Desk Studies and Ground Models: These are an integral part of any contaminated land assessment. You will have training in the development of geological ground models and geomorphological terrain models through desk studies, walk-over surveys and site investigation.
- Ground Investigation Techniques: You will gain advanced knowledge of ground investigation using invasive techniques, in-situ tests and geophysical methods.
- Contaminated Land Risk Assessments: You will learn key techniques for site assessment, analytical testing and risk assessment.
- Field Reconnaissance and Walk-Over Survey: This unit covers techniques which are integral to the course and an essential skill for any graduate wishing to work in this area. You will have fieldwork training in techniques such as walk-over surveys combined with interpretation of remote sensing and aerial photography imagery.
- Spatial Analysis and Remote Sensing: You will learn integration and analysis of spatial datasets using GIS and interpretation of aerial photography and satellite imagery - key tools for terrain evaluation.
- Independent Research Project: This provides an opportunity for you to undertake an original piece of research to academic or industrial standards, typically in collaboration with research staff in the department or external industry partners. In addition to submission of a thesis report, you also present the results of your project at the annual postgraduate conference held at the end of September.
Teaching and Assessment
The course provides a balanced structure of lectures, workshops and practical laboratory work. You will generally be taught in small classes, providing an informal, friendly and supportive atmosphere for your studies.
How are you assessed?
Assessment is varied, aimed at developing skills relevant to a range of working environments. Here’s how we assess your work:
- poster and oral presentations
- project reports
- laboratory reports
Dr Malcolm Whitworth
Earth and Environmental Sciences
This course provides excellent MSc accommodation, with state-of-the-art geotechical, computing and analytical laboratory facilities available to you throughout and the support of friendly and approachable staff who have extensive research and consultancy experience. It also offers excellent career prospects, and is run with a strong emphasis on employability with placement and work experience opportunities readily available.
Facilities & Features
We offer a fully equipped geological, geochemical and a recently refurbished geotechnics lab. Brimming with ultra-modern equipment, here’s a taste of what you’ll be able to work on:
- stress path cell equipment
- ring shear tests
- large shear box for soil testing
- triaxial test cell, Brazilian and uniaxial test rigs for rock testing
Specialist Software and Equipment
You’ll have access to a range of specialist equipment available in no other British geography department. This includes x-ray diffractometer and spectrometer equipment, photogrammetry equipment, a nutrient autoanalyser and high precision GPS equipment for field research. All of these facilities are fully supported by dedicated technical support staff and are freely available whenever you should need to use them.
We aim to provide you with as much support as possible. There are tutors available to support your studies via online tutorials, email and telephone conferencing. You will also be assigned a personal tutor who will offer support and guidance throughout your studies.
Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.
Budgeting for your studies
There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.
Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.
Other costs to consider
You will be expected to buy your own field equipment (e.g. compass, clinometers, hammer, hand lens, notebook) at the start of your study. The costs are £125.
The cost of travel or accommodation for compulsory fieldwork is included in the course fee, but you will need to pay for meals and other subsistence costs. Compulsory project work is normally carried out in the UK, and you will be required to contribute to travel, accommodation and meals, These costs are likely to be in the region of £50 - £500 depending on the nature of the project. You will be provided with essential safety equipment for fieldwork and site visits (hard hat and reflective jacket). If you require additional field equipment you will be required to purchase these items. Total costs will be in the region of £130.
Careers & Opportunities
Contaminated land is listed as one of the key areas in which the UK has a skills shortage. This fact, combined with the vocational nature of this course, means that you will be in high demand from employers looking for newly qualified contaminated land specialists. You will find the majority of such roles in the environmental consultancy sector.
This course will provide you with a variety of transferable skills such as project planning, literature and data reviewing, report writing, along with the more general skills of presentation, communication and so on. It also has strong research and analytical components, ideal if you wish to pursue further research to PhD level.
We aim to provide you with as much support as possible in finding employment through close industrial contacts, careers events, recruitment fairs and individual advice.
One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.
We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.
In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.
Benefits of Postgraduate Study
Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.
- Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
- Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
- Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
- Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
- If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.
Online application form
Apply direct using our online form
Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.
Postgraduate Information Days
Our Postgraduate Information Days give you the opportunity to visit the University and meet with course leaders. You can also go to a range of academic and support-based talks to get the information you need to consider when studying at postgraduate level with us.
Come and visit us on Wednesday 26 April 2017, 1pm - 5pm.Book now
Other opportunities to visit
Download our free walking tour PDF for a self-guided tour of the University. You can visit Monday to Friday between 8.30am and 4pm.
We have an open-door policy so you will be able to take a look in our buildings, speak to some of our support services and get a feel for the campus.
If you are unable to visit us, contact the admissions team – see the 'Key Facts' section above for contact details.
Staff from our international Office regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our International Office exhibitions page.
Fees and Funding
Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.