Environmental monitoring and protection

To conserve our environment, we must address any preventable deterioration. This module will equip you with knowledge of environmental monitoring techniques for water, noise, air, and waste; how to model and interpret the impacts of pollutants; and the methods available to eliminate pollutants. Computer models and rich examples cover water pollution control, noise control, air quality management, and solid waste management. You’ll 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:

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
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • Marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve.
  • Guiding you to additional learning resources.
  • Providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content.
  • Facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part. If you want to participate, you’ll likely need a headset with a microphone.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box.

Course work includes

3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Environmental monitoring and protection (T868) starts once a year – in November.

This page describes the module that will start in November 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in November 2026.


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 have studied Sustainable organisations: theory and practice (T892) or its predecessor 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 2024 Apr 2025 £1750.00

Registration closes 03/10/24 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in November 2026.

Future availability

Environmental monitoring and protection (T868) starts once a year – in November.

This page describes the module that will start in November 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in November 2026.

Additional costs

Study costs

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

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • course-specific module materials
  • video content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online tutorial access
  • general and subject-specific forums.

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

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

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.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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