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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
VTM051 - Environmental analysis of water
Syllabus adopted 2014-02-26 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPIEE
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Not passed
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Max 48 students
Teaching language: English
Open for exchange students

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0107 Examination 7,5c Grading: TH   7,5c   Contact examiner,  Contact examiner,  25 Aug 2015 pm V

In programs



Docent  Ann-Margret Hvitt Strömvall
Docent  Oskar Modin

Course evaluation:


In order to be eligible for a second cycle course the applicant needs to fulfil the general and specific entry requirements of the programme that owns the course. (If the second cycle course is owned by a first cycle programme, second cycle entry requirements apply.)
Exemption from the eligibility requirement: Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling these requirements.

Course specific prerequisites

BSC in Engineering or Natural Science. Recommended: courses from the MSC PROGR in Infrastructure and environmental engineering or other programmes with an environmental profile.


The aim of the course is that students should understand natural and contaminated waters in relation to the concept of sustainable development (SD), and be able to use this knowledge and contribute to the future development of global sustainability. This includes an understanding of basic concepts in aquatic science and environmental analysis of water, and the presence, reactions and effects of substances of environmental concern. The course is valuable for students specializing in environmental, water and geology science and engineering.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

- explain fundamentals in aquatic science, the biogeochemical processes and interactions between pollutants and environmental factors in the aquatic environment.
- apply the knowledge in the area of environmental analysis of water and sediment, and know how to use different measurement techniques, but also be able to describe principles of analytical techniques.
- plan sampling and measurement strategies, select techniques within the perspective to determine and assess water and sediment quality, and be able to apply this knowledge to understand the aquatic environment.
- make critical judgements of available measurement data from the aquatic environment, and apply this knowledge to understand the data in a wider perspective.
- know how to relate the concept of sustainable development to the environmental analysis of natural waters, urban stormwater and landfill leachates.
- identify and understand fundamental causes of problems in the aquatic environment, and be able to discuss and motivate appropriate remedial/preventive actions in accordance with sustainable development.
- present measurement results and knowledge acquired from the scientific literature through oral and written presentation in a professional and qualified manner.


Environmental analysis of water is divided into two parts:

Part 1 Natural Waters and Sustainable Development (3 weeks). General skills in aquatic environment are covered. The most important key concepts are: biogeochemical processes, pH and alkalinity, acidification, carbonate chemistry, natural organic matter, ecosystem change, nutrients, eutrophication, water analysis, pollutants form, global change, the value of water, remedial and preventative actions, and sustainable development.

Part 2 Contaminated Waters and Sustainable Development (5 weeks). In this part the emphasis is on more specific topics such as environmental analysis of metals and organic contaminants in both water and sediment. The key concepts to be covered are: landfill leachates, stormwater pollution, persistent organic pollutants, partition, bioaccumulation, chromatography, metal speciation, ICP-MS, oxygen demand, remedial and preventative actions, and sustainable development.

The starting point for learning is a problem and a case study area. In the first part of the course, you perform a study of the lakes Vällsjön and Horsickan situated in Mölndal, close to Göteborg. In part 2, a stormwater treatment facility at Gårda or Järnbrott, and the leachate treatment facility at the Brudaremossen landfill are the cases to study. The lakes and contaminated water treatment facilities are close to Chalmers, convenient for field visits and sampling, and provide striking examples of human effects on water quality. At the course start your group will be presented a problem on how human stresses could affect the aquatic environment in the lakes. Your group will be working with this problem for three weeks, and after oral and written presentation, a new problem concerning human impact on contaminated waters as urban stormwater and landfill leachates will be introduced. In parallel, all students write on an individual assignment to find deeper knowledge within a specific topic in the area of environmental analysis of water.


To reach the aims and objectives, this course uses a learning approach called Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Problem-based learning is characterised by using a real life situation as starting point for learning, and the students own responsibility for obtaining knowledge. PBL differs from traditional learning because of the focus on themes, with many traditional disciplines represented. In traditional approaches to learning, education follows established scientific disciplines and generally starts with the basic facts first. In problem-based learning, we start from examples from real-life, but the same content is covered. It is important that the knowledge is meaningful, useful and relevant. In PBL it is also important with interaction; the students acquire knowledge in interaction with teachers and other students. You will soon realise that this course looks to you for enthusiasm in learning. The search for knowledge is preferred over lecturing in large classrooms.

In Environmental analysis of water we use different pedagogical tools and methods to reach the learning goals, and the manner of learning is through:

- Group work
- Individual assignment
- Lectures
- Group sessions; interaction among students and the supervisor
- Field trips
- Sampling in field
- Analysis in field
- Analysis at laboratory
- Key concepts


Recommended books are available at the student bookshop, Cremona. A few copies of each book are also available in the course library. We have selected the following books on the basis of the coverage of the course:

1. Reeve. R. (2002) Introduction to Environmental Analysis - Analytical Chemistry by Open Learning (selected sections on water analysis).

2. Baird, C. and Cann, M. (2005) Environmental Chemistry, Third or Fourth edition.

The first book is recommended, and the other can be used for additional reading.

The course library is for reference purposes and can be found in the Environmental Chemistry Laboratory (ECL). If your group is writing a report or tackling a sub-problem, make your case by delving into the course library. Each group will also get a plastic box with the most important books and reports for the course. Folders with field methods and all analytical methods are available in the box. These folders are very useful in the preparation of the field and laboratory work. When there is group session on the schedule, the supervisors will bring the boxes to the classroom. Other times the book boxes will be available in the ECL.

For more information and references, use the scientific journals and databases in the campus library or on their website.


Continuous assessment is the central examination form here, through two group projects and one individual assignment. The final grade (graded F, 3, 4 or 5) for a student is based on written reports and oral presentations/opposition on group work (Part 1:35% + Part 2:35%) and on the individual assignment (30%).

We have no traditional written examination at the end of the course, but the compulsory attendances during the course is high (~ 45 h, see separate schedule).

All reports (individual, group work and opposition) should be handed in through the PingPong learning platform ( This is also the learning platform we use for communication and it is here the teachers will hand out written feedback on student reports.

Page manager Published: Wed 26 Feb 2020.