Skip to Content


Last modified: 28 Jun 2018 10:27

Course Overview

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a process for providing information about likely effects of certain human activities on ‘the environment’, and for identifying ways of minimising adverse effects and enhancing positive effects.

Structured class sessions provide background information about the origins and development of EIA, and how EIAs are typically implemented in the UK and elsewhere.

Practical ‘workshop’ sessions focus on case studies to provide insight into methods used at different stages of the EIA process, and provide you with an opportunity to develop transferable skills relevant to a range of employers, such as team-working, time-management, presentation and critical appraisal.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Philip Smith

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • One of BSc Biology or BSc Conservation Biology or BSc Zoology or BSc Animal Ecology or BSc Marine Biology or BSc Animal Behaviour or BSc Behavioural Biology or MSci Biological Sciences or BSc Biological Sciences (Honours) or BSc Plant and Soil Sciences or Bachelor Of Science In Environmental And Forest Management or BSc Ecology or BSc Wildlife Management or BSc Forestry or BSc Forest Sciences or BSc Environmental Science
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Human activities affect the natural and human environment in a multitude of ways, varying in characteristics of effect, magnitude, spatial extent and timescale. In recent decades, concern about environmental damage in different parts of the world has led to public pressure on governments to regulate ‘developers’ and others so as to minimise adverse environmental effects, while allowing economic activities to continue. High-level policies and principles have been expressed in international commitments to ‘sustainable development’, which are translated into more detailed national and sub-national legislation and guidance.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been developed as a critical component of the approach to achieving sustainable development. EIA originated in the United States of America and was subsequently adopted into the legislative frameworks of other countries, including member states of the European Union. It is therefore important to understand the EIA process – its background, stages and steps – and to be able to select, use and evaluate suitable techniques.

The aim of the course is to provide training in policies, principles, methods and application of EIA in the UK (EU) and worldwide. The course also aims to foster balanced judgement of the strengths and weaknesses of EIA.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

  • Explain the origins and development of EIA, including key policy drivers and statutes

  • Describe the different stages of the EIA process, the types of activity involved, and main participants

  • Explain the environmental effects of a selection of development types, taking account of the scientific evidence base

  • Critically review impact identification, impact analysis, and proposed mitigation measures in case studies

  • Describe the typical content and structure of scoping reports and environmental statements

  • Explain the role of EIA in the development planning consent process

  • Discuss the role of EIA in contributing to sustainable development, including its strengths and weaknesses

  • Contrast strategic environmental assessment (SEA) with EIA

  • Contribute effectively to the preparation and delivery of group presentations

  • Write concise reports of your own group work and that of others, including both factual content and thoughtful critique.

Associated Costs


Further Information & Notes

This course runs in weeks 31-35, and is scheduled in Thread 2, so may have contact hours in any or all of these times:  Mondays, 14.00-18.00; Tuesday, all day; Friday, 14.00-18.00.  If this is an optional course, there may also be contact hours on Wednesdays, 9.00-11.00.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: 1 written exam (50%), coursework (50%). Coursework consists of three reports on group exercises in ‘workshop’ sessions, intended to replicate a common type of professional work activity. The two-hour exam is a choice of two essay questions from at least four topics from any part of the course.

Resits: a second attempt is possible for the exam and each element of coursework, with the marks for passed elements being carried forward, depending on what was failed in the first attempt.

Formative Assessment

Workshop sessions will provide opportunities for student-student and student-tutor interaction. Formative assessment will be provided during these interactions through informal verbal feedback.


Each student will receive a mark and individual written feedback for each workshop report, and the class may receive generic feedback. Students who are identified as having difficulty in successfully completing the coursework will be invited to meet members of the course team to identify difficulties and discuss solutions.

Course Learning Outcomes


Compatibility Mode

We have detected that you are have compatibility mode enabled or are using an old version of Internet Explorer. You either need to switch off compatibility mode for this site or upgrade your browser.