Taught course

Air Pollution Management and Control

University of Birmingham · School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Entry requirements

Candidates for the MSc should possess one of the following: At least a Second Class Honours degree awarded by an approved University or Institution in an appropriate subject; A degree without Honours, awarded by an approved University or Institution in an appropriate subject, followed by at least two years appropriate postgraduate experience. For the Postgraduate Diploma: As above; Diplomas or other qualifications judged satisfactory for the purpose.

Months of entry


Course content

The course combines taught modules with an independent major research project. The taught modules introduce the nature of our atmosphere, its composition and meteorology, air pollutant emissions, air pollution chemistry and climate change / carbon management, together with the practical measures used to limit emissions from sources ranging from power stations to vehicles and the legislative and policy framework used by national and local authorities to enforce air quality objectives. The research project allows students to undertake an in-depth investigation of a particular aspect of air pollution of interest to them, and further their level of understanding.
This programme is run jointly by the Division of Environmental Health and Risk Management in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and the School of Chemical Engineering.
We offer two qualifications in this area:
  • MSc in Air Pollution Management and Control
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Air Pollution Management and Control
The full-time MSc course runs over a 12-month period, starting in October. The taught modules are delivered in the autumn and spring terms, while the summer months focus on the major research project. Teaching is scheduled in a block or day release format (i.e. lectures concentrated on one or two days per week) to facilitate part-time study alongside employment. The full-time Postgraduate Diploma (taught modules only) lasts 9 months, from October through to June of the following year.
Both courses are also available on a part-time basis, running over two years.
Taught Modules
The course has 9 taught modules, representing 120 credits in total:
Causes and Effects of Air Pollution
The sources, behaviour and fates of air pollutants, and their impact on human health, the built environment, ecosystems and global climate are described in this module. The module also addresses the use of emission inventories, methods and procedures for air pollutant measurement, and integration of these to give effective monitoring networks. Current and future developments in road vehicle technologies are covered, and the process of defining emission standards is studied.
Atmospheric Composition and Physics
This course provides an introduction to the structure of the atmosphere and its evolution through time, the atmospheric transfer of heat and sunlight, cloud microphysics and radiative processes of the atmosphere, and their importance in air pollution phenomena.
Air Pollution Meteorology
This course explains how the temperature structure and motion of the atmosphere determines the dispersion of air pollutants. Air pollution modelling techniques are also introduced.
Air Pollution Chemistry
The basic principles that determine the composition of the atmosphere are introduced and the processes leading to the formation and removal of atmospheric pollutants are described. There is a focus on the chemistry of air pollution phenomena such as urban air pollution (including photochemical smog and ozone formation), acid rain and stratospheric ozone depletion, in the context of changing climate.
Industrial Gas Discharge Control
These modules introduce the basic principles and design criteria for the engineering control of industrial gaseous emissions, from sources ranging from power plants to individual vehicles. Removal technologies of both particulate and gaseous contaminants are included. IGDC 0 introduces the fundamental principles needed in assessing industrial processes (energy requirements and material flow), IGDC I focuses on the emission control of gaseous pollutants while IGDC II focuses on the emissions control of airborne particulate matter.
Air Quality Management
Students study the policy and institutional framework for the management of air quality. Aspects covered in this module include the use of source emission and ambient air quality standards, air quality management models, monitoring for compliance and the role of air pollutant emission reduction strategies. This is taught in the context of the UK National Air Quality Strategy.
Physical Climatology & The Climate System
An understanding of the variability of the climate system and its inherent changes with time is key to addressing questions of either natural or anthropogenic (human driven) climate change. This module will help students to become familiar with the underlying physical concepts as well as their application to attribute and detect anthropogenic climate change. The module will cover the basic physical climate system, basics of the observed atmospheric and ocean general circulation and their known modes of large scale variability. The module will them examine our knowledge of past climates and natural variability, the principles behind current anthropogenic climate change and the strengths (and limitations) of current climate models and climate predictions. The course concludes with a review of potential impacts of climate change, and the related political and social responses, including climate sceptic arguments.
Carbon Management
Carbon Management is an increasingly important consideration for individual organisations through to national governments, with recognition that responsible management and sustainable development require minimising carbon emissions where feasible. This module provides an introduction to all aspects of carbon management. Topics covered include the overall scientific context of the global carbon cycle, global policy aspects (Kyoto, Copenhagen and current UK / EU targets), carbon offsetting and emissions trading, the impact of changing energy sources (biofuels and renewable energy resources, including impacts on air quality) and local carbon management, with a focus on the techniques used by local authorities and individual organisations. The module concludes with a realistic review of the likely near-future global emissions trajectory, considering economic trends in the BRIC nations, and the scope for renewable energy on a national level.
Research Component
The research component of the course comprises a Research Methods module (10 credits) and an individual research project into an area of the students’ choice (50 credits).

Explore postgraduate study at Birmingham at one of our on-campus open days (Friday 3 November 2015 and Friday 4 March 2016). Register to attend at: www.birmingham.ac.uk/pgopendays

If you can’t make it to one of our on-campus open days, our virtual open days run regularly throughout the year. For more information, please visit: www.pg.bham.ac.uk

Information for international students

International students can find further details of scholarships at www.international.birmingham.ac.uk/scholarships

Fees and funding

UK students
MSc: £6,840 FT - £2,970 PT; PGDip: £6,840 FT - £2,970 PT0
International students
£17,960 FT

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Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
24 months


part time
24 months
full time
12 months

Course contact details

Postgraduate enquiry service
0121 414 5005