Environmental Assessment

Study at home by distance education to learn how to conduct an environmental assessment and write an environmental report, to be a self employed consultant or environmental assessor.

Course CodeBEN301
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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The most important knowledge for a career in environmental consultancy or as an environmental officer is the assessment of the environment and its resilience to changes. Work in this area has expanded greatly in recent decades, and when combined with a knowledge of plant or animal identification and ecology, this course develops an extremely valuable skill.
In this course you will learn to prepare Environmental Assessments of all kinds, to comply with national and international regulations.


        for anyone with expertise who doesn't know how to "sell" that expertise.

      Lesson Structure

      There are 8 lessons in this course:

      1. Introduction to Environmental Assessment
        • Types of Employment for Environmental Scientists, Pre Purchase Inspections, Background Data, Flora and Fauna Surveys, Open Space Management Plans, Detection of Pollutants, Use of Plants, Remediation of Polluted Sites, Employment in a Multi-Disciplinary Team.
      2. Overview of Environmental Assessment
        • What is Environmental Assessment? Definitions of Environmental Assessment, Overview of the Environmental Assessment Process.
      3. International Environmental Law
        • Foundations of Environmental Law, Making International Laws (Treaties and Customary Law), Milestones in International Environmental Law, Principles of International Environmental Law, Institutions that influence Environmental Law, Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Law.
      4. Domestic Environmental Law
        • Evolving Domestic Environmental Law, Strategies for Domestic Environmental Policy, Establishment of Environmental Standards, Liability, Environmental Impact Assessment, Prior Authorisation and Enforcement.
      5. Types of Environmental Assessments
        • Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Impact Statement, Environmental Risk Assessment, Ecological Risk Assessment, Strategic Environment Assessment, Environmental Audit, Regional Risk Screening, Ecological Impact Assessment, Social Impact Assessments and Statements, Economic and Fiscal Impact Assessment, Health Impact Assessment.
      6. The Design and Process of Environmental Assessment
        • Steps in the Environmental Assessment Process (Screening, Scoping, Collection and Analysis of Information, Public Consultation and Participation, Reporting the Findings of the Study, Post Project Analysis) Impact Prediction and Evaluation including Impact Identification Methods and Impact Assessment Techniques, Data Collection, Statistical Analysis of Data and Statistical Tests.
      7. Writing Environmental Reports
        • Environmental Statements, Report Structure, Suggested Layouts for Environmental Statements, Report Presentation, Examples of Environmental Impact Statements.
      8. Research Project
        • The research project is the student’s opportunity to test out their skills as an environmental consultant. In this project, the student will go through the steps involved in carrying out an environmental assessment and write it up as a professional report.

      Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


      • To appreciate the range of employment available to scientists skilled in environmental assessment.
      • Develop an understanding of the basics of environmental study design, analysis and reporting within a legal framework.
      • Be aware of the international legislation relevant to environmental assessment.
      • Research the legislation which dictates the environmental assessment requirements in the student’s home country.
      • Appreciate the range of environmental assessment techniques that have been developed to assess a range of situations around the globe.
      • Understand the environmental assessment process in enough depth to manage a small environmental assessment.
      • Write a professional environmental report.
      • Prepare an environmental impact assessment including carrying out all research and writing up the actual report.

      What You Will Do

      • Contact a laboratory (either by telephone, email, or in person) that carries out tests for environmental contaminants.
      • Research the organisation in the local area that handles environmental complaints and the procedure for lodging such complaints.
      • Identify developments that require an environmental assessment.
      • Contact an Environmental Consulting Firm that carries out Environmental Assessments to determine the most common type of environment assessment in the local area.
      • Contact the local government organisation to determine what sort of environmental assessments are required for the different classes of development.
      • Research one treaty that influences environmental issues in the locality.
      • Research the legislation in the student’s home country that governs the preparation of environmental assessments. Research the legislation in one other country that governs the preparation of environmental assessments.
      • Identify factors that influence developer’s decisions on where to locate their developments.
      • Read and review an Environmental Assessment Report.
      • Source the original data from an Environmental Assessment to determine how the data was analysed after collection.
      • Write one hypothetical environmental assessment from beginning to end.
      • Carry out a major research project in the form of an environmental assessment. This project will include research into data scoping, study design, data collection, data analysis, conclusions and a professionally presented final report.

      Stages in an Environmental Assessment

      Screening is the first stage in the Environmental Assessment Process and it refers to the process of deciding whether an environmental assessment needs to be carried out. A number of screening methods have been devised, including the use of positive and negative lists, screening matrices and initial environmental evaluations (IEE).


      No matter what method of screening is used, it needs to be relatively quick, to avoid spending too much time on projects that may not be required to go through an Environmental Assessment. It also needs to be easy to use while being thorough enough to identify all projects requiring an EA.


      A common approach to screening which has been adopted in many countries has been the creation of positive and negative screening lists. A positive screening list identifies a list of projects that that require an EA. For example, in Europe, EC Directive 85/337 includes two annexes that list projects as either having a mandatory (annex I) or discretionary (annex II) requirement for EA. A project will be designated as falling into either of these annexes depending upon the characteristics of the presented proposal, including the scale or size of the proposal, the nature of the activities, and the sensitivity of the surrounding environment. A negative screening list is the opposite of a positive screening list, designating types of projects that do not require an EA. This can become difficult however, as these lists can sometimes end up being very long.


      Some countries, such as Canada and Thailand, have also now developed a two stage screening process, involving an initial screening, which is then followed by a secondary screening when the necessity for an EA has not been able to be determined during the initial screening.


      Many environmental scientists will not actually participate in the screening process, as scientists will often be approached after a developer has decided that they need an environmental assessment in order for development to proceed. Sometimes only a preliminary assessment of impacts is needed whereas a full Environmental Impact Statement may be mandatory for some types of development.


      Scoping is the process by which the key issues and concerns of interested parties (stakeholders) are identified, in order to determine the most important issues that should be addressed in the EA. Scoping may include determining exactly what type of assessment is required according to the law.

      As EA’s are often conducted with restraints on the amount of time and budget available, scoping is an important mechanism to determine the priorities and focus for the EA, reducing the inclusion of irrelevant information.

      Collection and Analysis of Information

      This is the largest and most time consuming step. A number of factors are required to be considered within this step, including carrying out baseline studies, identifying potential impacts of a development, proposing project alternatives and considering the views and concerns of the public.

      Public Consultation and Participation

      Public involvement is an essential part of the environmental assessment process. It should be part of the process of gathering information for analysis. This is particularly important where proposed developments are likely to affect members of the public (remember that there may be considerable backlash from the community if they have not been consulted about an issue that is important to them). The public are also able to provide assessors with more detailed information on their local area and may be better able to identify potential environmental impacts. Public involvement might take the form of public meetings; calls for submissions or surveys. Such public involvement may be required by law in some countries. Public participation may be time consuming and more costly in the short term, but it can increase the acceptability of the project and reduce conflict and delay. Information collected should be used in the Environmental Assessment Report.

      Reporting the Findings of the Study

      The findings of the study are assembled into a document that is often referred to as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

      Enrol today and learn to conduct a proper Environmental Assessment, and produce an Environmental Report.
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      ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA
      ACS Distance Education holds an Educational Membership with the ATA

      ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development
      ACS is an Organisational Member of the British Institute for Learning and Development

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      Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network

      ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
      ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

      ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council
      ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council

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