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Environmental monitoring and protection

To conserve our environment, we need to ensure that any deterioration which can be prevented is addressed. This module is entirely online, and will equip you with knowledge of the different environmental monitoring techniques for water, noise, air, and waste; how to model and interpret the impacts of pollutants; and the techniques available to eliminate the pollutants. Computer models and rich examples make for an interesting and useful coverage of water pollution control, noise control, air quality management, and solid waste management. You will gain the skills necessary to undertake environmental assessment work, interpret the results, and suggest appropriate remedial measures, bearing in mind pollutants can be a reusable resource.


T868 is a compulsory module in our:

T868 is an optional module in our:

This module can also count towards F64 and M03, which are no longer available to new students.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

The module consists of two introductory units and four specialist blocks covering pollution prevention related to water, noise, air and solid waste. Modelling using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets is an important part of the module. Video programmes show you practice in the field, and legal aspects of pollution control in the UK are outlined. This module will appeal to anyone who wants to specialise in the technical aspects of environmental protection. For ease of reference, technical data and a glossary are included in the study materials. The module is delivered entirely online, thus allowing study worldwide.

Introductory units

The first introductory unit – Essential environmental science – provides the background material for the four main blocks of study.

The second one – Financial assessment – offers means of assessing the economic viability of pollution control options.

Block 1: Water pollution control

This block begins with the hydrological cycle, the natural aquatic environment, and components normally present in surface waters. It then considers the types of pollutants that might arise, and the impacts that they have on watercourses. The block goes on to discuss the principles of biological treatment of sewage, sludge treatment, reuse and disposal, and water quality monitoring.

Computer modelling to reveal the impacts of major pollutants on watercourses (such as carbonaceous material, nitrogen, phosphorus and coliforms), is then introduced. There are several examples to enable you to apply the models to pollution situations that you might come across.

Block 2: Noise control

This block begins by reviewing basic principles and concepts of sound propagation such as units, criteria and indices. The second section deals with assessment of noise levels, including the terminology of measurement and various criteria indices. The third section considers outdoor sound (such as transport noise) and factors that affect its propagation. Barriers for noise control are discussed at this stage.

The final three sections look at the many options available for noise control: at source; for the pathway between the source and the receiver, with absorption playing a major role; and then noise control at the receiver.

Block 3: Air quality management

This block begins with an introduction to the atmosphere around us. Meteorology, which plays an important part in air quality, is covered next, together with the main types of air pollutants, their sources, and their effects on humans and the surroundings.

Air pollutants need to be measured before control decisions can be made, so the block details the main technologies and systems used to assess pollutants. Control and elimination of air pollutants is a vast topic, and several methods are described. Finally, the block outlines methods of modelling and predicting air pollution in order to carry out environmental impact assessments.

Block 4: Solid waste management

This block concentrates on municipal and similar waste. After reviewing the nature and quantities of waste produced in the UK and India, it goes on to discuss the technology and environmental impacts of waste collection, recycling/composting, incineration and landfill. Models are introduced to assist in assessing the environmental impact of these options.

Finally, the block considers ways of devising strategies to manage the whole waste stream, and introduces models and other tools to devise and assess alternative strategies from the technical, environmental, legislative and economic standpoints.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will be allocated a tutor whom you can contact by email and telephone for guidance and advice with the study material. Your tutor will mark and give feedback on the assignments that you submit. You will be able to communicate with fellow students via an online forum.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Professional recognition

Environmental Management accredititation

Both institutions offer student membership to those registered on the MSc in Environmental Management or the Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Management.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school

Future availability

Environmental monitoring and protection (T868) starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2022.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    This module can be studied as an option in our postgraduate environmental management programme or it can be taken on its own. 

    If you are taking this module as part of a postgraduate qualification, you must have adequate preparation for study at this level. You should have a science or engineering bachelors degree or equivalent qualification, and a good knowledge of written English. You are strongly advised to study Managing for sustainability (T867) first, as it offers good preparation for this module.

    As the mathematics and chemistry involved in studying this module are significant, you should be familiar with pure mathematics and chemistry at A-level or Advanced Highers standard (or equivalent). Concerning mathematics, the manipulation of equations, plotting of graphs, handling of logarithms and the exponential function, and the use of a scientific calculator are all important. In terms of chemistry, you should be familiar with chemical equations and their use in numerical problems related to chemical reactions. Revision material will be available on the module website after you register, but in the meantime you might like to try our diagnostic quiz to see if you are adequately prepared to study this module.

    Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End England fee Register
    01 Nov 2019 Apr 2020 -

    Registration now closed

    01 Nov 2020 Apr 2021 Not yet available

    Registration closes 08/10/20 (places subject to availability)

    This module is expected to start for the last time in November 2022.

    Future availability

    Environmental monitoring and protection (T868) starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in November 2022.

    Additional costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    Study materials

    What's included

    All the study texts and audio-visual material will be delivered via the module website; there are no printed materials. There will be some work involving provided spreadsheets.

    You will need

    A scientific calculator.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    • A desktop or laptop computer with Windows 7 or higher
    • The screen must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    Written transcripts of any audio components are available, as are printable versions of the online text based material. Some online material may not be fully accessible using a screen reader and mathematical and scientific materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.