Course Title: Environmental Chemistry 3A

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Environmental Chemistry 3A

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


135H Applied Sciences


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 1 2007,
Sem 1 2008,
Sem 1 2009,
Sem 1 2010,
Sem 1 2011,
Sem 1 2012,
Sem 1 2013,
Sem 1 2014,
Sem 1 2015,
Sem 1 2016


City Campus


171H School of Science


Sem 1 2017,
Sem 1 2018,
Sem 1 2019,
Sem 1 2020

Course Coordinator: A./Prof. Graeme Allinson

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3561

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Room 3.2.23

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment, by email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

You should have gained a second-year-level knowledge of basic aquatic and soil chemistry and related physical, inorganic and organic chemistry by completing the courses CHEM1058 Environmental Chemistry 2A and CHEM1059 Environmental Chemistry 2B or equivalent tertiary studies.

You may be able to demonstrate that you already have the skills and knowledge gained in Environmental Chemistry 3A. Contact the course coordinator if you think you may be eligible for recognition of prior learning. For further information go to Recognition of prior learning (RPL) in Higher Education


Course Description

The course aims to give you further understanding of fundamental chemical and physical processes occurring in aquatic and soil environments and of the chemistry underlying anthropogenic impacts on these environments. Topics covered typically include:


Fate and behaviour of nutrients in aquatic systems. This component of CHEM1085 will explore the fate, behaviour and impact of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon) in aquatic systems in a way that establishes chemical principles within the contextual framework of wetlands science. At the heart of much riverine research conducted in Victoria there is nutrients chemistry and instruments that measure nutrients – be they nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, phosphate or more complex forms of N, P and C. ,This module will use constructed wetlands to explain how these nutrients are transformed in aquatic systems and model their behaviour using standard wetlands sizing models.


Soil science: Structure and Function of Clay Minerals and Organic Matter in the Soil. Soil pH and soil acidity. Cation Exchange Capacity and its importance in soil chemistry. The cycles of the main nutrients in soil: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur. Sources, ecological impacts and distribution of Soil Pollutants. Pesticides in the soil environment. Treatment and disposal of solid and liquid wastes. Environmental chemistry of processes in landfills and the impact these processes have on groundwaters.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to the School of Applied Science Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) at AQF level 7, specifically:

  • PLO2 Scientific Knowledge
  • PLO3 Inquiry and Problem Solving
  • PLO4 Communication
  • PLO5 Personal and Professional Practice


On successful completion of this course you should be able to:

  1. demonstrate a broad and coherent knowledge and understanding of aquatic chemistry and of soil chemistry;
  2. gather, synthesize and critically evaluate information from a range of sources;
  3. collect, record, interpret and draw conclusions from scientific data;
  4. communicate effectively results, information or arguments in aquatic and soil chemistry, in writing;
  5. be an independent and self-directed learner;
  6. work effectively, responsibly, ethically and safely in an individual or team context



Overview of Learning Activities

.This course offers you the following learning opportunities:

  • lectorials, where syllabus material will be presented, explained and illustrated with examples and exercises;
  • participation in practical work;
  • completion of written structured laboratory reports
  • private study, working through the coursework and other learning materials and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems.

These activities will help enhance your employability by further developing your knowledge and skill set, teamwork, oral and written communication and independent learning skills.

Total Study Hours

RMIT stipulates that your total workload for a 12cp course should be 120 hours (Course Design Procedure, Section 3.2).

This course is typically 2hr/week for lectorials and 3hr/week for practical work (which is concentrated into nine laboratory exercises). You should devote the remaining time (up to 5hr/week) to private study, including exam preparation and completion of exercises and laboratory reports.



Overview of Learning Resources

The course Canvas site will give you easy access to learning materials such as theory notes, laboratory safety guide and practical manual, assessment task details and electronic submission folders.

The library has subject guides for Environmental Science and for Chemistry.

There is no textbook for this course.

You will require a clean, white laboratory coat free of any graffiti, a pair of safety glasses or safety over-glasses and a laboratory note book for all practical sessions.


Overview of Assessment


All hurdle requirements for this course are indicated clearly in the assessment regime that follows, against the relevant assessment task(s) and all have been approved by the College Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor (Leaning & Teaching).

Assessment for this course consists of three parts:

Practical Work - including laboratory performance and reports (40%), which assess CLOs 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6. For OHS and professional practice reasons, practical work has an assessment hurdle:

Assessment Hurdle: You must achieve a minimum of 20% out of the 40% allocated to the practical work in order to pass this course.

End of Semester Aquatic Chemistry Test (30%) which assess CLOs 1, 2, 4 & 5.

End of Semester Soil Chemistry Test (30%), which assess CLOs 1, 2, 4 & 5.