Award: 10 credits at level 4
Duration: 12 weeks
Start Date: January (Semester 2)

ENVB40440 Water Quality Assessment, Protection & Management

This module is for students in Semester 2 of the MSc, Graduate Diploma or Certificate in Environmental Sustainability (Negotiated Learning) course.


Use the following links to view some sample content from the module:

Excerpt 1: Biological Components of Freshwaters

Excerpt 2: Measuring Biochemical Oxygen Demand

What will I study?

The overall aim of this module is to equip students with the skills (theoretical backgrounds and practical methods) to participate in freshwater studies 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 macroinvertebrates data, biotic metrics and indices.

How will I study?

Lectures will be delivered over a 12-week period through the online learning environment.

A moderated discussion board to allow module participants to discuss the lecture content and this will be complimented by online tutorials.

Expected Commitment

Students are not required to attend any lectures at the UCD campus as part of the module. Students are expected to spend a total 220 hours workload during the semester consisting of:
  • Lectures, videos and other online learning materials (throughout the semester): 30 hours
  • Formative assessments will enable students to gauge their progress and level of understanding of the material presented.
  • Online tests and other exercises (throughout the semester): 24 hours
  • Moderated discussion: 12 hours
  • Reports (X3): 72 hours
  • Student Autonomous Learning: 82 hours

How will I be assessed?

  • Online tests and other exercises (10%)
  • Discussion contributions (10%)
  • Project reports (3) based on data (physico-chemical and biological) provided (50%)
  • Two-hour, end of semester written examination (30%)

On successful completion of this module I will

  • have acquired knowledge of basic concepts in freshwater ecology;
  • be able to confidently design or review a monitoring program to detect potential impacts of land-use activities on water quality;
  • have knowledge of methodologies for collection and processing of water and biological samples;
  • have ability to interpret biological and chemical water-quality data;
  • have sufficient knowledge to read and communicate water quality information in reports;
  • appreciate the requirement of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and other relevant legislation;
  • recognise the ecological basis of the WFD requirements;
  • be able to source and review freshwater research literature and;
  • work as a team to compile reports and make oral presentations.

Am I eligible?

Applicants must hold a minimum of a 2.2 honours level degree in a science, engineering or related discipline. There are no pre-requisites for this module.