Available in 2018

Course handbook


This course introduces students to the concepts and principles that determine the transformation and fate of contaminants both within environmental matrices, and between environmental compartments. The major chemical and biological reactions of contaminants in soils and their mobility and bioavailability will be provided. The course also provides laboratory training of methods that environmental scientists use in measuring and assessing environmental variables which are key factors influencing the chemodynamics and fate of contaminants. Further introduction of concepts and measurement of bioavailability links the principles with risk assessment and future remediation strategy. The course develops a firm understanding of scientific principles as applied to risk assessment and remediation and the topics covered provide the necessary grounding for continuing studies and research in the Environmental Sciences.

Availability2018 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2018

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Explain the underlying principles governing the transformation and transport of contaminants in the environment

2. Predict possible/probable biotic and abiotic transformation products of contaminants

3. Describe transport processes between environmental compartments

4. Calculate mass transport of contaminants between various environmental matrices

5. Apply knowledge and techniques in qualitative and quantitative research approaches

6. Critically review scientific literature covering contaminants transformation and fate in different ecosystems

7. Determine critical parameters governing transport processes in porous media

8. Determine various soil properties controlling contaminants reactions


Topics covered include:

  1. An overview introduction to the contaminants and their fate in environment, especially in soils;
  2. Introduction of major soil components that include inorganic mineral and organic components;
  3. Chemical reactions of contaminants, including the origin of charged surfaces on soil particles, surface charge and solute interactions, cation exchange, anion retention, redox reactions, precipitation/dissolution;
  4. The biological reactions of contaminants with soil components, including methylation/demethylation of metalloids, degradation of pesticides, mineralization and immobilization;
  5. The contaminant transport procedure in soils, including leaching, runoff and volatilization;
  6. The major factors that controlling contaminants reacting in soils, including soil pH, soil components, soil solution composition, rhizosphere effects;
  7. The concept of bioavailability of contaminants, and the chemical and biological indices;
  8. The bioavailability of contaminants and its manipulation for risk assessment and management;
  9. The laboratory training of measuring key soil properties, including soil pH, pH buffering capacity, cation exchange capacity, soil organic matter and respiration, sorption procedures, and bioavailability assays;
  10. Data manipulation, interpretation, analysis and communication of results.

Assumed knowledge

This course does not have any prerequisites and assumed knowledge other than a basic understanding of chemistry and biology.

Assessment items

Literature Review: Literature Report

Report: Lab practices and report

Formal Examination: Formal Exam

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Laboratory: Attendance Requirement - Students must attend a minimum number of these sessions.

Pre-Placement Requirements:

  • WHS Requirement - Students must complete a Workplace Safety Induction or Risk Assessment.

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 15 hour(s) per Week for 1 Weeks


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for 10 Weeks


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for 10 Weeks