Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title Environmental Impact Assessment
Originator David Horne
Department School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Greenwich, UK
Tel. +44 (0)181331 9841/9813
Fax +44 (0)181 331 9805

Teams of Level 3 students carry out Environmental Impact Assessments of real proposed projects (facilitated by collaborating companies, county councils etc.). Supervising staff act as line managers but teams are responsible for organisation and time management. Teams prepare and submit proposals, carry out scoping exercises and acquire baseline data, liaise with the client and consultees as appropriate (and permitted by client), and prepare Environmental Statements, including submission and review of first draft, oral presentation of findings and submission of final report. The exercise takes 10-12 weeks with 3 hours (timetabled) + 3 hours (outside timetabled classes) per week including a one-day site visit. Students are normally allocated a time budget of 60 hours each.


A large proportion of staff effort must be expended in the months/weeks preceding the start of the unit; once it is running, the students are doing the work and staff are there to monitor, guide and assess. Contact must be made with potential "real-world clients" who are prepared to offer project information, access to sites, and their own time for liaison with student teams. Initial contact is usually made by telephone but experience has proved the necessity to personally visit all potential clients in order to discuss details of the aims and objectives of the course, information and liaison requirements, and give assurances that "pestering" by students will be kept to a minimum and that confidentiality will be respected.

The benefits of such "real-world" links are clear: students have the opportunity to work on a real project rather than a classroom exercise (which looks good on a CV) and begin to make their own contacts with professionals. Projects need to be reasonably achievable within the allotted time for the unit, and within reach of a one-day site visit. Examples have included proposed landfill waste disposal in existing quarries, extensions (e.g., landraising) to existing landfills, extensions to mineral extraction operations, waste-to-energy projects, road schemes (e.g., bypasses, river crossings), pipelines and marinas. Clients/providers have included county and district councils, waste management companies and mineral extraction companies.

Assessment is 100% on coursework: 50% for the team effort (10% for the oral presentation, 40% for the final Environmental Statement) and 50% for individual effort. Each student must finally submit a folder containing evidence of their contribution to the team, which can include some form of peer assessment.


Environmental impact assessment
Group work
Role play
Skills development

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Page created 5 June 2000
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