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Environmental Pollution


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

  • Environmental Science

Recommended course(s):

  • Quantitative Research Methods


What are the impacts of plastic pollution on plants and animals? How are pesticides related to declines in bird and invertebrate species? What is the impact of artificial light to trees and the wildlife depending on these? What type of implications are there on fish when there is extra noise in the oceans or waterways? How do you determine, in a systematic way, the risk of existing and new chemicals? And how to determine the risks of non-matter stressors like artificial light, noise, electromagnetic fields and particles?

The foundation of the course is the framework of Environmental Hazard and Risk Assessment, which is a key tool for scientist and policy makers to assess the potential risk of contaminants to the environment. What is the difference between risk assessment, risk management and risk perception? Can new emerging pollutants be threated and investigated along the lines of the current guidelines or do they need alternative approaches?

Next basic key environmental pollutants will be discussed, including classic chemical contaminants (e.g. pesticides, persistent organic pollutants and metals), non-matter issues like light and noise pollution and emerging contaminants (including nanoparticles, endocrine disruptors and plastics).

As part of the course there will be several hands-on labs planned. Labs here explicitly mean an ecotox test as well as diving into a topic yourselves and gaining knowledge by performing an interview with an expert in the field. During these labs students will apply the tools and procedures discussed in class to further understand impacts the risk of pollutants in ecosystems.

Course Objectives


  • Students can conduct a mini-research on the impact of a stressor related to human activities and prepare a podcast on it enabling peer students to learn the exposure and effects of that stressor;

  • Students can conduct a lab experiment and write up a method and result section in a scientific format;

  • Students can calculate a non-linear dose-response curve.


  • Students can define and discus the framework of Environmental Risk Assessment

  • Students are able to describe and discuss important environmental pollutants, and their impacts on the environment.

  • Students can discuss the strengths and weaknesses of tools we have to assess the impacts of pollutants on the environment.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The main mode of instruction will center around lectures and labs. In addition, students are required to complete assignments. To facilitate completion of these assignments, there will be some time set aside during lectures to discuss and work on assignments (the remainder of the work is conducted outside class hours). MAKE SURE TO BRING A NOTEBOOK AND A PEN TO CLASS! Attendance is compulsory for students.

Assessment Method

  • Podcast assignment: 35%

  • Toxicity testing assignment: 35%

  • Course Participation: 10%

  • Final Exam: 20%

Reading list

We make use of an e-book that is freely accessible, and articles. Readings will be made available prior to the class


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Prof. dr. Martina Vijver,