Faculty of Arts

Postgraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitSchool of Geography and Environmental Science
OfferedSouth Africa First semester 2013 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Associate Professor Bimo Nkhata (South Africa); Ms Linda Downsborough


Previously coded WTR4002


This unit introduces students to some of the fundamental science which underpins the understanding of the whole of catchment water cycle, including ecosystem functioning and the water quality and quantity requirements of various user groups (e.g. domestic, agriculture, industry, mining). Throughout the unit there is an emphasis on the whole-of-water cycle. The unit also addresses the human uses of water and highlights the dynamic relationship between human and natural aquatic systems. Topics covered in this unit include;

  • Basic properties of water
  • Principles of aquatic ecology, including ecological structure and function, the finite nature of the resource base and significance of water quality and quantity to the environment and multiple water users.
  • Integrated water resources planning and management including principles of systematic conservation planning and spatial development planning
  • River health monitoring, assessment and reporting
  • Freshwater ecosystems as complex social-ecological systems including the concepts of ecosystem services, resilience and thresholds of change.


Specific objectives for this unit include:

  1. Describe the physical and chemical properties of water and the processes that affect these physical and chemical properties with respect to water quality
  2. Critically analyse given water quality data using correct analysis methods and statistics; present water quality data using correct tables and figures; interpret the outcomes of this analysis; write a meaningful report about the data and its implications for water quality, ecosystem health, or human use
  3. Determine linkages between the terrestrial and aquatic environment and the influence of land-use change on aquatic systems and environmental flows
  4. Measure key water quality and biological indicators for ecological health in an aquatic system and suggest monitoring and assessment criteria for healthy aquatic systems.
  5. Understand the principles of water storage and treatment and its subsequent treatment for human use.
  6. Provide comment on larger issues of water security, such as climate change.


Case study on integrating river health, freshwater conservation objectives and water uses (Group assignment) 6000 words (100%)

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

1 week lectures (5-6 hours of lectures/seminars per day)
1 week reading, case studies, self study, tutorial, short course, guest lecturer, discussions