Chemistry for Environmental Engineers

Module aims

  • To provide an introductory course in chemistry for environmental engineers, which assumes little prior knowledge of the subject, and, in particular, to develop a basic knowledge of the underlying principles of chemistry that influence environmental processes such as water and wastewater treatment, air pollution control and waste management.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing this course unit, students will be able to: 

  • Understand the fundamentals of environmental chemistry (inorganic, organic and physical in terms of the structure of matter, bonding and chemical reactivity).
  • Understand the origins, transport, reactions and fates of chemical species in water, air, land and living environments.
  • Learn from specific examples of the interactions of chemicals and environmental media.
  • Appreciate the relevance of chemicals to environmental pollution, hazardous properties of materials, and waste and wastewater treatment.
  • Understand the importance of chemical analysis in environmental science including techniques, units and quantities, instrumentation, data quality and data interpretation.
  • Apply their knowledge of the principles of chemistry in the context of environmental engineering problems for example in the provision of safe, potable and ample public water supplies, the treatment of wastewater and solid wastes, and the control of water, soil and atmospheric pollution.
  • Use their knowledge of the relevance of high quality statistically accurate analytical data to guide decision-making on environmental solutions in field situations.
  • Transfer their knowledge and skills to environmental engineering situations to ensure best practice outcomes designed to minimise environmental impacts.

Module syllabus

The syllabus will include topics in:       
  • Fundamental concepts in chemistry: Structure of atoms, elements and molecules; bonding; chemical equations; chemical reactions.
  • Chemistry of water: Physical and chemical properties of water; water and the environment; behaviour of water in the environment; water as a solvent for gases and solids; water as a reaction medium; water as a transport medium.
  • Organic chemistry: Structures, properties, bonding and reactions of carbon compounds; Significance of organic molecules and their interaction with environmental media; importance of functional groups in contamination and pollution.
  • Biological chemistry: Functional groups, bonding and reactions of molecules of importance in living organisms.
  • Analytical chemistry: Important techniques in analytical chemistry; data collection – units and quantities, data quality, and data interpretation.  





Fundamentals of Chemistry I – Atomic Structure

Professor Sue Grimes


Fundamentals of Chemistry II - Bonding

Professor Sue Grimes


Analytical Chemistry I - Terminology and sample preparation

Dr Geoff Fowler


Fundamentals of Chemistry III - Reactions

Professor Sue Grimes


Water Chemistry

Professor Sue Grimes


Analytical Chemistry II -Spectroscopic Analysis

Dr Geoff Fowler


Organic Chemistry I

Professor Sue Grimes


Analytical Chemistry III - Chromatographic Analysis

Dr Geoff Fowler


Organic Chemistry II & Biological Chemistry

Professor Sue Grimes

Teaching methods

The course content is delivered through a suite of nine 2-hour lectures.  Tutorial questions and answers are provided on BBL for self-learning.


Information will be provided separately.

Reading list

Module leaders

Professor Sue Grimes