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Environmental Risk Assessment aims to provide you with the skills to undertake and critically evaluate environmental risk assessments. We outline the history and social context of risk and explore the psychology of risk perception. You will be introduced to quantitative and qualitative tools with the objective of giving you the ability to select, apply and assess technical and socially based risk assessment. The subject is structured to develop your skills in writing reports and participating in group exercises.
While the contact period is six intensive days, the learning period is longer. Reading materials are distributed in May and a small assessment task is set to encourage you to be fully prepared. You will be required to complete a take-home examination and a substantial practical report in the weeks following the course.
The subject is made up of lectures in the mornings and practical exercises in the afternoons. It assumes no formal background in quantitative methods. An understanding of basic statistical concepts (means, medians, standard deviations, confidence intervals, basic linear regression) is an advantage. If you have not been involved in an undergraduate statistics class before, contact the subject coordinator to discuss your options.
Intended learning outcomes
At the completion of the subject, participants should be able to:
- describe approaches to risk assessment in various disciplines;
- discuss the relevance of a range of scientific disciplines to environmental risk assessment including ecology, toxicology, epidemiology, statistics, psychology and sociology;
- analyse the role of different evidentiary approaches to supporting risk assessments including empirical observation and analysis, modelling, and use of expert opinion; and
- judge the merit of scientific arguments based on null hypothesis significance testing.
On completion of this subject students should have developed the following generic skills:
- ability to apply their broad knowledge of risk assessment across a range of fields, including environmental science, conservation biology, biosecurity, ecotoxicology, and epidemiology;
- capacity to employ highly developed conceptual, analytical, quantitative and technical skills relevant to environmental risk assessment;
- ability to evaluate risk assessment techniques, different types of information and uncertainty in addressing decisions about risk to the environment and people; and
- capacity to work effectively in groups to undertake a group risk assessment with people whose disciplinary and cultural backgrounds differ from their own.
Last updated: 31 January 2024