Institution / University College Cork
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Freshwater Quality Monitoring & Assessment

This United Nations (UN) Environment affiliated postgraduate diploma will provide existing or future water professionals with the necessary knowledge to design and implement freshwater quality monitoring and assessment programmes. The programme is offered in a part-time, online format that facilitates study in your own time. It will be useful to staff in higher level education institutes who wish to gain a specialised postgraduate qualification in surface and groundwater monitoring, quality assurance and control, and data analysis and presentation. Rivers, lakes and groundwaters are covered in detail and there is an option to study biological and ecological methods, the use of particulate material in monitoring and to take part in a field workshop either abroad or in Ireland during the second year of the programme.

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to describe the steps involved in designing a monitoring programme and the different factors that must be considered in each step of the design. They should also be able to identify appropriate monitoring approaches in relation to specific monitoring objectives, select suitable methods for use in the field and laboratory and describe the advantages and disadvantages of those methods. Experience will be gained in analysing monitoring data using a range of graphical, statistical and GIS-based approaches and in writing water quality assessment reports suitable for technical and non-technical audiences. Students will also prepare a quality assurance plan for a selected monitoring programme.

Entry requirements

Candidates must have a BSc in Environmental Science or cognate discipline; or a relevant professional qualification; or a portfolio of work and experience in the area of freshwater quality monitoring. Candidates who do not hold a BSc will be judged on a case-by-case basis as to their suitability for the programme, subject to the approval of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science.

Candidates, for whom English is not their primary language, should possess an IELTS of 6.5 (or TOEFL equivalent) with no less than 6.0 in each individual category. If you are applying with Qualifications obtained outside Ireland and you wish to verify if you meet the minimum academic and English language requirements for this programme please click here to view the grades comparison table by country and for details of recognised English language tests.

The number of places is limited and selection will be made on the basis of the candidate’s performance in his/her primary degree and personal statement.


Duration: 2 Years Part-time
Course Delivery Method*: Online

Further enquiries

UN Environment GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre Administration

Tel. No: +355 21 4205276

UN Environment GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre,
Environmental Research Institute,
University College Cork,
Lee Road,
Cork City.

Subjects taught

Year 1
Students take 30 credits as follows:

EV6001 Monitoring Programme Design for Freshwater Bodies (10 credits)

EV6002 Quality Assurance in Freshwater Quality Monitoring Programmes (10 credits)

EV6003 Data Handling and Presentation for Freshwater Quality Monitoring Programmes (10 credits)

Year 2
Students take 30 credits as follows:

Core modules
EV6005 Monitoring and Assessment of Surface Waters (10 credits)
EV6007 Monitoring and Assessment of Groundwater (10 credits)


Elective modules, Students take 10 credits from the following:
EV6004 Freshwater Quality Monitoring in the Field (5 credits)*
EV6008 Water Quality Monitoring using Biological and Ecological Methods (5 credits)
EV6009 Freshwater Quality Monitoring with Particulate Material (5 credits)

* Please note there is a requirement for students who are not part of the GEMS/Water programme to self-fund for the elective fieldwork module EV6004. The cost will depend on the venue of the workshop.

Teaching will be on-line with each module running for 16 weeks (10 credits) or 8 weeks (5 credits), with the exception of the one-week, full-time optional field module (optional). Students are expected to spend approximately 15-20 hours per week study effort per module, of which approximately 6 hours would be on-line engagement. Students are provided with a student e-mail account and access on-line to the UCC library, but will need the use of a computer with internet connection, modern browser, word processing and spreadsheet software. Programme tutors will be in regular contact with students to provide support and advice throughout the programme.

Assessment method

Modules are assessed by means of on-line tests, quizzes, moderated participation in discussions and written assignments that are allocated a proportion of the total module marks. There is usually one major assessment at the end of each module in the form of a project report, written review, or exercises associated with data analysis and presentation. Throughout each module, students will be assigned regular tasks and expected to participate in on-line discussions which will also be evaluated.

Course fee

Costs: 2017/2019 Irish/EU Fee €4,500; 2017/2019 Non-EU Fee €9,000 (excluding GEMS/Water nominated students from developing countries); GEMS/Water nominated students from developing countries, 2017/2019 Fee is €1,000

Enrolment and start dates

Next Intake: September 2017

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