ENVB40440 Water Quality Assessment, Protection and Management (On-line)

Academic Year 2023/2024

The overall aim of this module is to equip students with the skills (theoretical backgrounds and practical methods) to participate in freshwater investigations relating to reporting and management of water quality with particular emphasis on the detection of impacts from land-use activities and application of mitigation measures. This module commences with an overview of the range of freshwater habitats and their physico-chemical and biological characteristics. This includes instruction to the basic biology of key aquatic biota such as macroinvertebrates and fish. Pollution types, sources, impacts and methods of detection are outlined. The main part of the module deals with assessment of water quality and the focus is on the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive.
Concepts and issues explored include ecosystem health/integrity, stress factors, reference or ecological target conditions, physical habitat description, lake and river typologies, design of monitoring programs, monitoring using fish, invertebrates and plants, rapid bioassessment assessment protocols, multimetric vs. multivariate approaches, biological indicators, sub-lethal stress indicators, analyses and interpretation of macroinvertebrate data, biotic metrics and indices.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module the student will:
1. Have acquired knowledge of basic concepts in freshwater ecology.
2. Be able to confidently design or review a monitoring program to detect potential impacts of land-use or other anthropogenic activities on water quality.
3. Have knowledge of methodologies for collection and processing of water and biological samples.
4. Have the skills to interpret biological and chemical water-quality data.
5. Have sufficient knowledge to read and communicate water quality information in report format.
6. Appreciate the requirement of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and other relevant legislation.
7. Recognise the ecological basis of the WFD requirements.
8. Be able to source and review freshwater research literature.
9. Work as a team to compile reports and make oral presentations.

Indicative Module Content:

1 Introduction
2 Freshwater Habitats & their Physical Characteristics
3 Biological Components of Freshwater Systems
4 Virtual Fieldtrip
Introduction to the sites that will be investigated using hydrochemical and biological analyses
5 Chemical Composition of Water

PRACTICAL - Analysis of water chemistry: Part 1
6 Water Framework Directive
7 Phosphorus

PRACTICAL - Analysis of water chemistry: Part II
8 Nitrogen

PRACTICAL - Analysis of water chemistry: Part III
9 Sediment

10 Multiple stressors
11 Bioassessment of Water Quality

PRACTICAL: Analysis of macroinvertebrate data.
12 Heavy Metals
13 Potential impacts from forestry operations
14 Pollutant Inputs from Roads
15 Designing a Water Quality Monitoring Programme
16 Constructed wetlands and treatment of pollutants

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning




Online Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Online module with practical assignments based largely on data analysis and reporting. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Various Throughout the Trimester n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: Essay title provided to students with 10 days to complete the essay Unspecified n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be provided on the individual continuous assessment components within 20 days of their submission.

Name Role
Ms Elizabeth Conroy Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Mr Cesar Scrochi Tutor