Mode of Study

Full-time, Part-time

Duration

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Start date

September 2022

Overview

On this Environmental Geology and Land Contamination Master's degree course, you'll learn how to investigate and understand contaminated sites. You'll learn how the whole geo-environmental system influences the movement of contaminants from source to potential receptors, through modules that cover hydrology, geochemistry, site investigation, geotechnics, and land assessment.

Earth systems and environmental sciences at the University of Portsmouth is ranked 4th of all post-1992 universities for research quality

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Read more about our amazing sports science research 

Many countries have a significant legacy of contaminants in the ground caused by industrial and mining activity. These pollutants can pose a significant risk to human health and the environment, so specialist expertise is required to ensure land is safe for use or development.

Demand for expertise is increasing, and in the UK alone the market for environmental consultancy is expected to grow by almost £10 billion to £16 billion by 2027. (Consultancy UK).

This course provides practical training in every aspect – from field and site work, to laboratory analysis and data interpretation – so once you graduate, you can pursue varied roles in the specialist area of contaminated land consultancy, regulation and remediation, both in the UK and overseas.

Scholarships for international students

The School of Environment, Geography and Geosciences offers a limited number of scholarships for international postgraduate students

Find out more about funding your studies

MSc Environmental Geology and Land Contamination - Professor Mike Fowler

Course leader Professor Mike Fowler talks about the MSc Environmental Geology and Land Contamination at the University of Portsmouth.

Professor Mike Fowler: The best part of the course is the hands on experience in state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation.

We have a comprehensive training, taking samples in the field and on site, doing all of the analysis, interpreting the numbers rigorously and writing up a report. That whole process is something that we concentrate on very strongly.

We've had some very successful research projects which have gone to publication. Some of the industries and sectors that the students go into - contaminated land industries and of course, into further research, PHDs and so on.

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

Course highlights

  • Learn from experts in the field, with extensive knowledge of groundwater hydrology, environmental geology and contaminated land management
  • Benefit from our industry links and complete a professional research project in collaboration with industry partners
  • Use our geotechnical and analytical labs, gaining practical experience in the use of a range of soil and environmental testing facilities in our environmental chemistry analysis laboratory
  • Train in fieldwork techniques such as walk-over surveys, sample collection and testing, and the use of GIS and interpretation of remote sensing
  • Produce professional conceptual site models (CSM) and learn about risk assessment approaches for contaminated land and water

What you'll study on this MSc Environmental Geology and Land Contamination degree course

Full-time

Core

On this course, you'll study three core modules and two optional modules.

Additional content

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Demonstrate synthesised knowledge and understanding of subject-pertinent field and site localities in SW England.
  • Critically compare the operation and application of modern analytical instruments.
  • Plan and implement analytical strategies to include measures of data quality.
  • Critically evaluate analytical data in the context of land contamination.
  • Appraise the significance of contamination in the context of source-pathway-receptor conceptual models.
  • Understand the use of statistics in contaminated land assessment

Explore this module

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Define and evaluate the principles and framework of contaminated land investigation, remediation and redevelopment.
  • Categorise contaminated land within a geoscience and geoenvironmental framework.
  • Implement risk-based contaminated land investigation and design a conceptual site model
  • Assess and interpret evolving guidance and legislation relating to groundwater protection, and to understand and be able to evaluate source protection zones around abstraction wells.
  • Determine the relationship between groundwater quality and quantity and the implications for groundwater resource management.
  • Analyse and predict water quality implications in the context of groundwater pollution and its prevention.

Explore this module

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Design and implement an advanced research project that is based upon the systematic collation, synthesis and analysis of primary data acquired by the student.
  • Prepare a comprehensive literature review and critically evaluate and discuss the research literature in the context of the students own research project.
  • Systematically analyse primary and/or secondary data using new skills and knowledge and use this new information to critically evaluate a clearly defined research hypothesis.
  • Undertake advanced analysis to generate new understandings and critically discuss these results in relation to identified limitations and within context of previous published research.
  • Report scientific results through different media including: thesis report written to a specified word limit using publication quality diagrams and figures.

Explore this module

Optional

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • With technical expertise, input, edit, manipulate and output spatially referenced data using industry-standard GIS computer software.
  • Critically evaluate alternative spatial models and how they impact on system functionality and applicability to real world problems.
  • Undertake complex spatial and surface modelling in a variety of GIS application areas.
  • Have a depth and systematic understanding of key theories and principles that underpin GIS.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.
  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.

Explore this module

Additional content

This module is designed to develop an overview of different geological and environmental hazards, and terrain evaluation methods for their identification and assessment.

Further module information to be confirmed.

Explore this module

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Design integrated ground investigations and critically evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different ground investigation methods in different terrains.
  • Critically discuss and systematically compare the principal methods of geophysical and invasive ground investigation techniques.
  • Explain the concepts of a geotechnical risk register and critically evaluate their use in site investigations.
  • Critically evaluate the importance of geological history in site investigation and theoretically examine the engineering problems associated with specific terrains.
  • Systematically identify, map and evaluate geologically important features including slope failure, rock slopes, discontinuities, and geological structure according to type and age and anticipated geotechnical performance using remote sensing information and field based mapping techniques.

Explore this module

Additional content

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Assess the principal environmental and social impacts associated with different forms of development.
  • Evaluate and plan the use of predictive techniques to quantify and predict impacts.
  • Compare strategies and technologies applied to the management of impacts.
  • Critically appraise current issues and developments related to Environmental Assessment.

Explore this module

Part-time

Core

As a part-time student, you'll study three core modules and two optional modules over two years.

Additional content

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Demonstrate synthesised knowledge and understanding of subject-pertinent field and site localities in SW England.
  • Critically compare the operation and application of modern analytical instruments.
  • Plan and implement analytical strategies to include measures of data quality.
  • Critically evaluate analytical data in the context of land contamination.
  • Appraise the significance of contamination in the context of source-pathway-receptor conceptual models.
  • Understand the use of statistics in contaminated land assessment

Explore this module

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Define and evaluate the principles and framework of contaminated land investigation, remediation and redevelopment.
  • Categorise contaminated land within a geoscience and geoenvironmental framework.
  • Implement risk-based contaminated land investigation and design a conceptual site model
  • Assess and interpret evolving guidance and legislation relating to groundwater protection, and to understand and be able to evaluate source protection zones around abstraction wells.
  • Determine the relationship between groundwater quality and quantity and the implications for groundwater resource management.
  • Analyse and predict water quality implications in the context of groundwater pollution and its prevention.

Explore this module

Optional

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • With technical expertise, input, edit, manipulate and output spatially referenced data using industry-standard GIS computer software.
  • Critically evaluate alternative spatial models and how they impact on system functionality and applicability to real world problems.
  • Undertake complex spatial and surface modelling in a variety of GIS application areas.
  • Have a depth and systematic understanding of key theories and principles that underpin GIS.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.
  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.

Explore this module

Additional content

This module is designed to develop an overview of different geological and environmental hazards, and terrain evaluation methods for their identification and assessment.

Further module information to be confirmed.

Explore this module

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Design integrated ground investigations and critically evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different ground investigation methods in different terrains.
  • Critically discuss and systematically compare the principal methods of geophysical and invasive ground investigation techniques.
  • Explain the concepts of a geotechnical risk register and critically evaluate their use in site investigations.
  • Critically evaluate the importance of geological history in site investigation and theoretically examine the engineering problems associated with specific terrains.
  • Systematically identify, map and evaluate geologically important features including slope failure, rock slopes, discontinuities, and geological structure according to type and age and anticipated geotechnical performance using remote sensing information and field based mapping techniques.

Explore this module

Additional content

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Assess the principal environmental and social impacts associated with different forms of development.
  • Evaluate and plan the use of predictive techniques to quantify and predict impacts.
  • Compare strategies and technologies applied to the management of impacts.
  • Critically appraise current issues and developments related to Environmental Assessment.

Explore this module

Core

As a part-time student, you'll study three core modules and two optional modules over two years.

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Design and implement an advanced research project that is based upon the systematic collation, synthesis and analysis of primary data acquired by the student.
  • Prepare a comprehensive literature review and critically evaluate and discuss the research literature in the context of the students own research project.
  • Systematically analyse primary and/or secondary data using new skills and knowledge and use this new information to critically evaluate a clearly defined research hypothesis.
  • Undertake advanced analysis to generate new understandings and critically discuss these results in relation to identified limitations and within context of previous published research.
  • Report scientific results through different media including: thesis report written to a specified word limit using publication quality diagrams and figures.

Explore this module

Optional

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • With technical expertise, input, edit, manipulate and output spatially referenced data using industry-standard GIS computer software.
  • Critically evaluate alternative spatial models and how they impact on system functionality and applicability to real world problems.
  • Undertake complex spatial and surface modelling in a variety of GIS application areas.
  • Have a depth and systematic understanding of key theories and principles that underpin GIS.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.
  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.

Explore this module

Additional content

This module is designed to develop an overview of different geological and environmental hazards, and terrain evaluation methods for their identification and assessment.

Further module information to be confirmed.

Explore this module

Additional content
The learning outcomes of this module are:
  • Design integrated ground investigations and critically evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different ground investigation methods in different terrains.
  • Critically discuss and systematically compare the principal methods of geophysical and invasive ground investigation techniques.
  • Explain the concepts of a geotechnical risk register and critically evaluate their use in site investigations.
  • Critically evaluate the importance of geological history in site investigation and theoretically examine the engineering problems associated with specific terrains.
  • Systematically identify, map and evaluate geologically important features including slope failure, rock slopes, discontinuities, and geological structure according to type and age and anticipated geotechnical performance using remote sensing information and field based mapping techniques.

Explore this module

Additional content

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Assess the principal environmental and social impacts associated with different forms of development.
  • Evaluate and plan the use of predictive techniques to quantify and predict impacts.
  • Compare strategies and technologies applied to the management of impacts.
  • Critically appraise current issues and developments related to Environmental Assessment.

Explore this module

Changes to course content

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry.

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master’s prepares you for

Environmental geologists and specialists in the identification and treatment of contaminated land are employed by Government and non-Government organisations, as well as commercial land and property developers.

Demand for expertise is increasing, and in the UK alone the market for environmental consultancy is expected to grow by almost £10 billion to £16 billion by 2027 (Consultancy UK).

Graduates also go into academic or commercial research roles, or a postgraduate research degree in earth and environmental sciences.

Graduates of this course have gone onto roles such as:

  • Environmental consultant
  • Geo-environmental consultant
  • Geo-environmental engineer
  • Engineer

Career outcomes shown are sourced from the latest available graduate outcome surveys. The data shows career outcomes at 15 months after graduation.

9 reasons to do a Master's

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • Applied projects with employers
  • 1-to-1 appointments
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business
Learn more about your career support

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to be on campus and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change. You should receive your full timetable several weeks before you start with us.

It is our expectation that all international students will join us here on campus in Portsmouth.

Course structure

Full-time (1-year):

  • On-campus, in-person teaching takes place on Mondays and Tuesdays
  • We recommend that full-time students allocate around 37 hours per week to their studies – equivalent to a full-time job

Part-time (2-years):

  • On-campus, in-person teaching takes place on Mondays or Tuesdays
  • We recommend that part-time students allocate around 18 hours per week to their studies – equivalent to a part-time job

Studies include teaching time (lectures, lab time, etc), tutorials, course work, independent learning and assessments.

On-campus, in-person teaching takes place over two teaching blocks (September to January and January to May). From May onwards, you'll focus on the development and realisation of your research project.

Teaching

Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree, but the majority of your teaching time will be in-person and face-to-face.

Teaching on this course includes:

  • lectures
  • workshops
  • laboratory work
  • field trips

Assessment

You'll be assessed through:

  • poster and oral presentations
  • project reports
  • laboratory and field reports
  • examinations

You'll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

Teaching staff

These are some of the expert staff who'll teach you on this course:

Dr Mo Hoque

I'm the MSc Environmental Geology and Land Contamination Course Leader. I coordinate undergraduate and postgraduate modules including Groundwater Protection, and Contaminated Land Assessment and Remediation. I also contribute to environmental fieldwork, professional skills activities, and student research project supervision.

I'm a hydrogeology and geoenvironmental researcher at Portsmouth, where our ambition is to reduce human exposure to contaminants related to geo-environmental hazards, climate change, and anthropogenic land degradation, and I currently supervise three fully-sponsored PhD students.

Read my full profile

Dr Malcolm Whitworth

I'm a Reader in Engineering Geomorphology and Natural Hazards. I'm also the MSc Engineering Geology, and MSc Geological and Environmental Hazards Course Leader.

I have extensive commercial experience in natural hazard assessment, terrain evaluation, gemorphological mapping, hazard assessment, GIS and remote sensing.

My current research projects include a study on the global distribution of natural hazards, landslide hazards assessment in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China using remote sensing and GIS, and numerical modelling of natural hazards – all of which feed directly into my teaching.

Read my full profile

Graduation Class of 2021

Joining us as an international student

You'll feel at home in our international community and our diverse city. You'll be joining over 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries who are studying with us.

Learn more about international student life and how we can help you with visas, applications, arrival and settling in. 

Information for international students

Facilities

Geotechnics laboratory

Gain experience with fully automated testing equipment and kit for characterising fine and coarse grained soils in our geotechnics lab, also known as the soils lab.
Scientist testing soils
Find out more about the lab

Environmental chemistry analysis lab

Use the equipment in this lab to identify and analyse chemicals and biochemicals in air, soil and water, so you can develop strategies to minimise and remove their harmful environmental effects.
An image of test tubes
Find out more about the lab

GIS and remote sensing lab

Discover more about the planet's physical structures and scientific processes, such as glaciers and coastal flooding, using drone data, aerial and satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems.
Aerial view of scenic Greenland Glaciers and icebergs
Explore the lab

Supporting your learning

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to postgraduate study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your Master's.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

They can help with:

  • improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
  • understanding and using assignment feedback
  • managing your time and workload
  • revision and exam techniques

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

The Maths Café offers advice and assistance with mathematical skills in a friendly, informal environment. You can come to our daily drop-in sessions, develop your maths skills at a workshop or use our online resources.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2023 start)

  • Full-time: £9,900
  • Part-time: £4,950 per year
  • Full-time: £19,200
  • Part-time: £9,600 per year

Funding your studies

Find out more how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover. 

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government postgraduate loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.

Tuition fees terms and conditions

Environment, geography and geosciences scholarships

International students may be eligible for the School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences (SEGG) Scholarship.

Find out if you're eligible and how to apply

Scholarships and Bursaries

Read more

Funding for international students

Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

Discover your options

Entry requirements

September 2023

  • A second class honours degree in geology, geography, Earth science, applied geology, civil engineering, chemistry, environmental science or a related discipline.
  • Relevant industrial and work experience will be considered on an individual basis.

 

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, you’ll need to show you meet the UK entry requirements listed above.

To find out if your non-UK degree or other qualification is accepted, please visit our page for your country and view the UK equivalent of your qualification. 

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.0.

 

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

you have a UK degree you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning) you are a national of a majority English speaking country

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us.

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start date in September, as long as there are places available. If you wait until September to apply, you may find that the course is full.

If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. International students and current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region. To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.

If you don’t meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

Ready to apply?

Standard applications

Start this course in September 2023

Apply now (Full-time) – 1 year

Apply now (Part-time) – 2 years

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2021, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.