Due to the Corona virus it is unclear how the programmes will take place. For the latest news please check the course page in Blackboard/Brightspace.


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Environmental Pollution




Admissions requirements

  • Environmental Science

  • QRM is recommended
    This course replaces Ecotoxicology. Students who have passed ecotoxicology cannot enroll in this course


What are the impacts of plastic pollution on plants and animals? How are pesticides related to declines in bird and invertebrate species? Why are levels of chemicals extremely high in the arctic regions, even though these chemicals are not used there? How do endocrine disruptors relate to increases in cancer rates and reduced reproduction? How do you determine, in a systematic way, the risk of existing and new contaminants?

This course will provide students with framework in order to assess the risk of environmental contaminants. The foundation of the course is Environmental 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), 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. During these labs students will apply the tools and procedures discussed in class to further understand impacts the risk of pollutants in ecosystems. For example, there will be a risk assessment assignment, in which field (e.g., community level environmental "effects" monitoring) and laboratory (e.g., LC50 tests) methods for understanding contaminant fates and effects will be examined in a systematic manner.

Course objectives


  • Students can conduct an environmental risk assessment using a weight-of-evidence approach;

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


  • 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.


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The main mode of instruction will center around lectures and labs. In addition, students are required to complete individual and group 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.


  • Individual Assignment: 40%

  • Toxicity testing assignment: 25%

  • Final Exam: 35%


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

No textbook is required. Readings will be made available prior to the class.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Dr. Thijs Bosker, t.bosker@luc.leidenuniv.nl
Prof. dr. Martina Vijver, vijver@cml.leidenuniv.nl