Professor Nick Voulvoulis 



This module introduces pollution and degradation of environmental quality as an example of the interactions between natural and human systems. It will enable students to understand environmental problems, looking at causal linkages between pollution sources, exposure pathways and impacts to environmental quality and human health.

 The complex relationships between environmental factors and human health, taking into account multiple pathways and interactions, will be assessed in a broader spatial, socio-economic and cultural context.

Students will learn how to assess pollution sources, study exposure pathways and fate, and evaluate consequences of human exposure to pollution and its impacts to environmental quality. Providing the evidence base to support decision and policy making, students should be able to understand pollution problems, consider ways to respond to them, and propose appropriate solutions/actions to reduce (protect, mitigate or prevent) pollution risks when necessary.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this module, students will:

  • Have gained awareness of current forms of environmental pollution and an overview of both their causes and consequences to natural, economic and social systems.
  • Have gained an understanding of the fundamental principles governing the interactions between those systems (i.e. transport of pollutants in the environment),
  • Have been exposed to learning examples of good practice of technologies and options used to remediate reduce/eliminate pollution of the environment,
  • Be able to analyse, synthesise, and evaluate evidence to understand problems and accordingly select control measures and techniques concerning atmospheric, water or terrestrial challenges.

Learning methods provide the basic understanding of the complex cross-disciplinary issues associated with environmental problems, their identification and their resolution.  As is appropriate with learning at Masters level, the emphasis is on analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Making a shift from traditional research methods and tools to systems based frameworks, the module focuses on the need to understand problems in order to assess how environmental challenges can be addressed.

 Module themes:

The module covers three thematic areas as examples of environmental challenges and central to its mission is an integrated theme, dealing with pollution issues in a wider context. As most environmental problems are interrelated, systems’ thinking is introduced and employed for analysing, understanding and addressing them.

  EP&C module themes
Intro and Integration theme  Theme 1: Water management  Theme 2: Environment and Health  Theme 3: Resources Management
 This theme deals with pollution issues within a wider context. Environmental problems are interrelated and therefore a systemic approach in their analysis and evaluation is necessary. The linkages between the natural systems will be revealed along with their implications to policy and decision making.   This theme focuses on water supply and treatment processes for drinking, in addition to current and emerging water management issues.  The basics of sewage treatment including biological treatment, percolating filters, activated sludge and nitrification and sludge treatment such as anaerobic digestion and other biosolids management practices are included.     This theme addresses pollutants and their relationship to human health and the quality of the natural environment. More specifically attention will be shed on the sources, pathways and routes of exposure of contaminants and their potential hazardous effects.  Attention in this theme will be shed on the efficient way to manage resources and reduce impacts of our waste. Focusing on sustainable consumption and production closing loops in resources management and decoupling from nature will be investigated as the way forward, dealing with resources within a systemic approach. 
Summary of the table's contents

 Learning Approach:

In order to have more in-class discussion and activity time and to effectively get to higher-order learning objectives, the module champions a shift from traditional research methods and tools to system-based frameworks. Moreover, it focuses on the need to understand problems before any solutions are derived, conceptualizing environmental problems as the interactions and interrelationships between natural and human systems.

Active, enquiry-based learning aims to disseminate knowledge that the students can understand and apply because of the module’s interactivity and contextual basis. Preparation includes studying online material in advance, with the aim of enhancing active class time, participation and communication. Class time is spent interactively examining the context and implications of the knowledge acquired.

Videos and notes provided need to be studied in preparation of classroom sessions to enable students’ active participation. Practicals offer the venue for analysis, evaluation and synthesis of knowledge acquired. Here students are challenged to examine their assumptions and to question information. Active participation is encouraged and demanded, with practicals designed to stimulate debate.  Such blended learning methods help increase science literacy and make it easier and faster for the 150 students each year to develop confidence in their active, enquiry-based learning.  The module effectively disseminates knowledge that the students can understand and apply because of its interactivity and contextual basis.

Module sessions:

There are three types of sessions:

  • Preparation: Students need to prepare using the notes provided and videos that provide the evidence necessary for active classroom participation.
  • Lectures provide the venue for more traditional knowledge sharing to support analysis, evaluation and synthesis in pursuit of critical thinking.
  • Practicals: Students are challenged to assess their learning and to apply what has been learnt. They are given tasks and questions which are then discussed in class to further improve learning, increasing their confidence in the process.



EP&C sessions

Preparation required (study in advance)


Handouts (Blackboard)

Videos (YouTube)



EP&C1: Introduction to Module (NV)


Intro to module


The learning process



EP&C2: Understanding environmental problems and history PRACTICAL (NV)

Task for EP&C2

Environmental History


Tasks for EP&C2 and Template for notes

Environmental Pollution Intro: Anthropocene



EP&C3:  Water management (NV)


The Aral Sea (Optional)


The Colorado River (Optional)



EP&C4: Air Pollution Basics  (HAS)





EP&C5: Drinking Water Treatment   and Wastewater treatment and Sludge PRACTICALS (NV) 

Water treatment Study Notes

Drinking water treatment


Wastewater treatment study notes

Wastewater treatment - biosolids management




EP&C6: Risk management of Chemicals PRACTICAL (NV)

Chemicals study Notes 

Chemicals in the Environment - Dehumanising Humanity


Insight to EU policy development on EDCs (Optional)



EP&C7: Waste and Resources management issues (NV)

Waste Management study notes 

Waste and resources management


The story of waste management in the UK (Optional)



EP&C8: Air pollution and Control (ADN)







EP&C9: Pollution and human health (ADN)





EP&C10: Sustainable production and consumption (NV)

SP and C study notes 

Overpopulation or overconsumption


Consumerism (Optional)



EP&C11: Conclusion - The Way Forward (NV) 


Environmental Pollution: the way forward


                                                                                                                  * Preparation required

The Environmental Pollution and Control Module of the MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College London (Blended learning - Online and in an Active Classroom) was shortlisted for the Wharton-QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards 2015!