ENVU9EP: Environmental Pathology and Human Health

CO-ORDINATOR: Dr Richard Quilliam

Prerequisites: Environmental Policy and Management (ENVU5A5) or Fieldwork and Laboratory Techniques (SCIU5T5)

Module Description

The Environment & Human Health has increasingly become a subject of concern to the general public in recent years. Human pathogens such as norovirus, E. coli O157, Salmonella, and MRSA have all been directly and indirectly implicated in human infections (and even death) from contact with the environment. The study of Environmental Pathogen Ecology examines the role of the environment in disease risk exposure, and focusses on the lifecycle of the pathogen rather than the epidemiology of disease in human populations. Current opinion is that greater numbers of human infections will occur from environmental routes due to projected climate change and further habitat encroachment into natural ecosystems.

Module Objectives

The aim of this module is to examine the environmental pathways associated with exposure to a range of human pathogens and zoonoses. This module will bring together issues in food security and safety, environmental pollution and climate change and introduce students to the complexity of disease ecology in a changing world.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand how changes in agriculture are increasing the environmental risk of exposure to pathogens
  • Understand why emerging infectious diseases are mainly of zoonotic origin, and recognise that habitat encroachment provides diseases with the opportunity to jump from animals to humans
  • Comprehend the significance of ‘the environment’ for exposure pathways to foodborne pathogens
  • Appreciate the current significance of global import/export and international travel as drivers for epidemics and pandemics
  • Understand how climate change is predicted to amplify exposure routes to pathogens in soil, water and air


Scheduled Teaching: 11 hours
Independent Study: 89 hours
Placements: 0 hours


Coursework: 50%
Examination: 50%
Practical: 0%

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