Module code: ENG2101

Module Overview

The safety and sustainability of environmental systems, as well as of man-made structures in the environment, is controlled by many interacting factors. In particular, water exerts stresses on these systems, and so in order to maintain the integrity of the systems, it is important to understand the principles that govern these stresses and interactions. This module will explore this further.

We start by studying flows in open channels, such as rivers, ditches, flumes and sewers. The lectures provide a comprehensive overview of the flow characteristics in open channels and familiarization with some important hydraulic structures. The tutorials help to develop the necessary skills to perform the flow calculations and model the channel profiles. These principles will be reinforced by practical lab sessions where you can observe the different flows in open channels. The second half of the module looks at water quality, water-borne diseases and water treatment systems. This component of the module is more descriptive and case-study based. It is delivered from an industrial/commercial perspective, hence provides insight into the skills required for employability in the water industry. Here, an understanding open channel flows is essential to make sure that the sewage treatment plants are operating under the right conditions, especially given that the main purpose of water treatment is to protect human health and prevent environmental degradation.

Alongside the two academic components, is the group poster work. Here, you will work together to design posters which link the open channel flow component with the water quality component. The posters examine how large man-made hydraulic structures (for e.g. a reservoir, dam or barrage) are constructed and operate and what subsequent impacts they have in terms of physical security (structure failure), asset security (supply and demand of water/energy resources), water quality and environment effects.  The posters highlight the synergies between infrastructure, fluids and the environment which is essential knowledge for engineers moving forwards, given climate change, extreme events and the drive towards more sustainable, secure engineering solutions.

Module provider

Sustainability, Civil & Env Engineering

Module Leader

HUGHES Susan (Sust & CEE)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 86

Seminar Hours: 14

Tutorial Hours: 15

Laboratory Hours: 3

Practical/Performance Hours: 9

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 12

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Hydraulics - Open channel flow

  • Classification of flow types.

  • Introduction to the concepts of head and energy associated with open channel flows.

  • Equations/theory relevant to steady, uniform and non-uniform flows.

  • Critical conditions and flow transitions around critical conditions.

  • Surface profiles for gradually varied flows.

  • Introduction to hydraulic structures.

  • Practical application of the theoretical principles in the laboratory, incorporating safe laboratory practice.

Environmental Quality

  • Historical developments in public and environmental health related to drinking-water and wastewater treatment.

  • Water pollution: sources and types of pollutants.

  • Introduction to microbiology, microbial growth characteristics, and microbial metabolism related to wastewater treatment.

  • Water quality assessment. Approaches to monitoring design and selection of analytical methods.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework GROUP POSTER 25
Practical based assessment LABORATORY WORK 15
Examination EXAM 2HRS 60

Alternative Assessment

  1. Laboratory work: complete a virtual lab with supplied experimental data and submit a report as for a face-to-face lab.
  2. Group Poster: complete an essay on work relating to the group poster topics.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

  • the theoretical and practical aspects of the different types of channel profiles, and the flow mechanisms and flow characteristics associated with free surface flows.

  • the basic concepts in public health, microbiology and chemistry that are necessary to understand the processes that take place during water pollution, drinking water and wastewater treatment.

  • practical skills (including independent report writing) in two key principles of open channel flow (for example, weirs and hydraulic jump).

  • group work skills (such as listening, negotiating, sharing ideas, empathy, communicating ) associated with the design of a poster.  

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Group Poster [Learning outcomes assessed:3,7] 

  • Laboratory work [Learning outcomes assessed:1-3]

  • Exam [Learning outcomes assessed:1-7 

Formative assessment will be provided through

  • attendance at the group poster sessions where engagement and progress will be guided and monitored. 

  •  a range of self-assessment tutorial exercises provided on SurreyLearn: where appropriate these exercises will be offered informal feedback in the tutorial sessions.


Students will receive written feedback on the laboratory work and on the group poster work.

Module aims

  • A knowledge of the different types of channel profiles and a comprehensive understanding of the flow mechanisms and flow characteristics associated with free surface flows
  • A knowledge of the different hydraulic structures including (design, environmental impact and security) encountered with open channel flows
  • Practical laboratory experience associated with hydraulic jumps and weirs and how to conduct experiments safely in a lab.
  • A systematic understanding and critical awareness of water chemistry and microbiology as they relate to the processes and products associated with drinking-water and wastewater treatment
  • An understanding of how these processes affect the sustainability and safety of environmental systems and structures

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Describe and classify the flow mechanisms associated with free surface flows. Apply the relevant equations to determine flow characteristics. KCPT
002 Design and calculate a channel profile for a given flow or geometry. KCPT
003 Name and explain different types of hydraulic structures including dams, weirs, energy dissipators, culverts. K
004 Describe the historical development of public and environmental health that is the foundation of drinking-water and wastewater treatment. KT
005 Recall basic microbiological and chemical principles and processes that are applicable to drinking-water and wastewater treatment. K
006 Describe the public and environmental health consequences of water pollution. KCT
007 Design a poster which combines the knowledge gained from the fluid mechanics with the environmental water quality to demonstrate the safe and sustainable management of environmental systems and hydraulic structures. Relate this, in particular, to the security of the structure, including construction security (dam breach) and asset security (water, renewable energy). KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to provide students with a basic theoretical and practical understanding of open channel flows and environmental water quality assessments. The module is delivered principally by lectures and tutorials, but also includes laboratory classes in open channel flow and the poster design work.

  • The laboratory sessions are hands-on practicals in which all the students actively participate in small groups (2-3 students) and gain the skills necessary to carry out experiments with open channel flows e.g. flows over weirs. They also gain digital capability (processing data) and report writing skills from writing the lab reports.

  • The tutorials are question and answer sessions allowing students time to reflect on and apply the lecture material and develop problem solving skills.

  • The poster design work encompasses both the hydraulics and environmental quality components of the module. Students work together in small groups (5-7 students) and are expected to engage both within and across the different groups to gain a broader understanding of sustainable water-themed engineering solutions. The poster sessions include guided activities to help students develop team work, communication and leadership skills. Each member of the group is “the Team Leader” for a week and submits a progression report for that week. This assignment enables students to be creative, selective and resourceful whilst at the same time developing skills such as resilience and robustness through collaborating with their the group.

  • At the end of the module (when permitted, post pandemic) there is a field trip to HR Wallingford, an independent civil engineering and environmental hydraulics organisation.  Students get the opportunity to visit this experimental flow research station with 90m wave flumes, a ship simulator and a specialist tsunami simulator. Here students can see the intermediate stage between the hydraulics theory they have just learned and real-life situations. This facility builds and tests scale models both experimentally and through numerical simulations and the students are taken on a guided tour of the site by the technical team who work there.

The learning and teaching methods include (hours are indicative):

  • Lectures 

  • Tutorials and guided poster work

  • Laboratory sessions 

  • Poster presentation

  • Independent learning  (guided reading, recorded content, coursework assignment, lab reports, independent reading, revision, site visit - when permitted)

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENG2101

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills and capabilities in the following areas:

Resourcefulness & Resilience: Students develop the ability to respond to problem-based tasks and provide viable solutions to open channel flows.¿ They are encouraged to exercise and develop their engineering and judgement to evaluate solutions, identify and correct errors; and build confidence in their problem-solving abilities.

Digital Capabilities:

  • Students will design and create a poster for their coursework assignment. They will record their engagement/progression and submit their final poster using the virtual learning environment (SurreyLearn).
  • Students will learn how to tabulate experimental data and utilise computational tools to analyse data and draw a conclusion on patterns and trends in the data. The learning and teaching content is supported via SurreyLearn and student engagement is further encouraged by utilising the online discussion forums for the different topics

Sustainability: Students learn about a major hydraulic structure and its impact on the environment throughout its life-cycle (design, construction, operation, maintenance, failure, de-commissioning). They compare different designs and construction materials and evaluate the pros and cons as to whether their structure should have been constructed.

Employability: Students are taught the water quality component of this module by an external lecturer in the water industry so it is delivered from an industrial/commercial perspective. From this viewpoint, understanding open channel flows is essential to make sure that the treatment plants are operating under the right conditions. The students experience what the industry requires directly from a professional in the field and thus have a better idea of what to expect from this type of work environment, when looking for their own employment in the future. 

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Civil Engineering BEng (Hons) 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Civil Engineering MEng 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.