Environmental Impact Assessment

Home Admissions Course Guide Environmental Impact Assessment

This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.


Environmental Impact Assessment

Welcome to ENVR S320 Environmental Impact Assessment.

This course is the final of the higher level courses that comprise the Environmental Studies stream within the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree. ENVR S320 is a one year, 10- credit point, higher level course. It is strongly recommended that you complete ENVR S234 Environmental Control and Public Health and BIOL S326 or BIOL S328 Ecology, or have an equivalent level of knowledge, before you enrol in this course.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a widely used tool for assessing the environmental implications of projects, policies and plans. It is also an integral part of the decision-making processes involving environmental issues. With the growing importance of environmental protection and an awareness of pursuing sustainable development, applying EIA techniques has become more important and compelling.

This course is designed to help you develop your understanding of the process and components of EIA in both theory and practice, and in the context of Hong Kong. The study units, activities and assignments will help you master the topics over a period of around 40 weeks.


Purpose of this Course Guide

By now, you have probably completed other HKMU courses so you should be well aware of the study skills required for distance learning. And you may be familiar with how HKMU courses are organized. Even so, you should read this Course Guide thoroughly before proceeding to look at the study units. Much of the contents will be familiar to you but some of the information is specific to ENVR S320 Environmental Impact Assessment.

The Course Guide tells you briefly what the course is about and how you can work your way through the material. It also suggests the amount of time you are likely to spend in order to complete the course successfully, and gives you a general guide as to when your assignments are due. For detailed information on your assignments, see the Assignment File. For information on due dates for work to be submitted, see the Presentation Schedule. You will probably wish to refer to this Course Guide throughout the course to help clarify important points about studying with HKMU.


Course aims

This course aims to introduce, examine, explain and analyse the salient aspects of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Hong Kong will be given thematic treatment against a background of global trends and practice in EIA. The course presentation includes, as part of acomprehensive package, printed textual material, articles from environmental journals, face-to-face tutoring, expert-led seminars and process-oriented assignments.

There are three central functions of the course:

  1. To expose you to EIA methods and procedures that can be applied to different EIA situations, scenarios and circumstances.
  2. To cultivate and reinforce EIA as a means to an end, not an end in itself; a process rather than a product.
  3. To demonstrate that the EIA process can operate to link the various environmental sciences to both the development of the natural environment and to different public perceptions of 'the environment'.

Upon completing ENVR S320, you should have acquired a deep understanding of the EIA process in both theory and practice.

In addition, and of equal importance, you should have gained much in the skills of evaluation of EIA literature and reporting styles. Moreover, these skills will be demonstrated in a direct, personal way by both conducting and writing your own EIA.


Course learning outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • Discuss the purpose of environmental impact assessment (EIA).
  • Illustrate the EIA statutory process.
  • Apply the principles of doing EIAs.
  • Examine Hong Kong's landmark EIA cases.
  • Analyse emerging issues and future trends in EIA.

There are ten study units in ENVR S320 Environmental Impact Assessment. The study units guide your learning. Each study unit consists of two to four weeks' work and includes specific objectives, directions for study, commentaries on readings and summaries of key issues and ideas. The units also provide practice exercises and activities to help you analyse the case studies. Together with your assignments, these activities will assist you in achieving the stated learning objectives of the individual units of the course. The study units are:

  • Unit 1 Overview and philosophy of EIA
  • Unit 2 EIA Ordinance and other environmental laws in Hong Kong
  • Unit 3 Technical assessments 1: Air, noise and waste
  • Unit 4 Technical assessments 2: Water quality, ecology and fisheries
  • Unit 5 Technical assessments 3: Cultural heritage, landscape and visual impact, and hazard assessment
  • Unit 6 EIA scoping, costing and report writing
  • Unit 7 Public participation and post-EIA follow-up action
  • Unit 8 EIA case studies
  • Unit 9 EIAs outside Hong Kong
  • Unit 10 Emerging issues and trends beyond EIA

The course overview suggests the amount of time you should allow for completing units. These stated times are intended as a guide only. The time needed to complete the study units, work on the activities and assignments and complete the rest of the work involved in this course will vary from learner to learner. These times can be adjusted to fit your personal needs more closely. You will need to carefully plan your own work and study schedule.

The estimated time, on average, that you need to spend on this course is about 10 hours per week. This estimate includes time for reading the study units and supplementary readings, completing activities, completing your assignments, attending the study schools and preparing for your final examination.


Course overview

UnitStudy time
1Overview and philosophy of EIA2 
2EIA Ordinance and other environmental laws in Hong Kong3Assignment 1
3Technical assessments 1: Air, noise and waste4 
4Technical assessments 2: Water quality, ecology and fisheries4Assignment 2
5Technical assessments 3: Cultural heritage, landscape and visual impact, and hazard assessment4 
6EIA scoping, costing and report writing3Assignment 3
7Public participation and post-EIA follow-up action4 
8EIA case studies4Assignment 4
9EIAs outside Hong Kong4 
10Emerging issues and trends beyond EIA2Assignment 5
Total study weeks36 


The course includes some tutorials. You need to be up to date with your study in order to gain full advantage from the tutorials. They are not lectures, but are designed to allow group discussion and input. You will only get the most out of a tutorial session if you contribute your ideas and opinions. You can find more information on tutorials in a later section of this Course Guide.

There will also be day schools where you will participate in seminar situations led by relevant consultants and practitioners. The sessions will aim at extension and inspiration, and features may include workshops, laboratories, field trips, and question and answer segments.

In addition to this Course Guide, the course has the following important components.


Study units

Each of the 10 study units in ENVR S320 Environmental Impact Assessment consists of two to four weeks' work. As an experienced distance learner, you know that you have to plan your own study schedule. It is most important that you complete the activities, exercises, assignments and examination successfully and on time.

The course is structured so that each unit builds upon previous knowledge. Each unit includes different ways to help you study systems analysis and design. These are:

  • Reading the study unit.
  • Reading the articles or book extracts.
  • Testing your comprehension and analytical skills by working through the activities that appear throughout the units.
  • Completing the exercises that appear at the end of each unit. These will require you to think, observe or undertake some activity that is designed to help you apply the knowledge you gain.
  • Completing the assignments.


There is no compulsory textbook.


Recommended books (additional and optional)

Chen, C C (2009) 'Environmental impact assessment framework by integrating scientific analysis and subjective perception', International Journal of Environmental Science & Technology (IJEST), 6(4): 605–18.

Chilaka, M A (2010) 'Vital statistics relating to the practice of Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in the United Kingdom', Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 30(2): 116–19.

Forsyth, A, Slotterback, C S, Krizek, K J (2010) 'Health impact assessment in planning: Development of the design for health HIA tools' Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 30(1): 42–51.

Jiricka, A and Pröbstl, U (2009) 'One common way — the strategic and methodological influence on environmental planning across Europe', Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 29(6): 379–89.

Ma, Z, Becker, D R and Kilgore, M A (2009) 'Assessing cumulative impacts within state environmental review frameworks in the United States', Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 29(6): 390–98.

O'Faircheallaigh, C (2010) 'Public participation and environmental impact assessment: Purposes, implications, and lessons for public policy making', Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 30(1): 19–27.

Sepúlveda, A, Schluep, M, Renaud, F G, Streicher, M, Kuehr, R, Hagelüken, C and Gerecke, A C (2010) 'A review of the environmental fate and effects of hazardous substances released from electrical and electronic equipments during recycling: Examples from China and India', Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 30(1): 28–41.

Van Buuren, A and Nooteboom, S (2010) 'The success of SEA in the Dutch planning practice: How formal assessments can contribute to collaborative governance', Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 30(2): 127–135.


Books versus the course materials

By far number one in study importance are the course materials themselves. The recommended readings are number two in importance. This course is not built around any one textbook. This course is built from and stands upon a huge number and range of references, materials and experiences. So in your study you are strongly advised to always put your course materials first.

The recommended readings above are quite optional. A lot depends on your individual background. Inspect these optional extras before you decide to purchase them.


Assignment File

Assignment details for this course are contained in the Assignment File. The nature of these assignments is described in the assignments section later on. You are required to complete your assignments and mail them, together with an Assignment Form, to your tutor in accordance with the timetable provided in the Presentation Schedule described immediately below.


Presentation Schedule

The Presentation Schedule is available on the Online Learning Environment (OLE). It gives the dates for completing assignments, and attending tutorials, day schools, and so on.

Remember, you are required to submit all your assignments by the actual dates shown in the Assignment File. You should guard against falling behind in your work.

You should pay particular attention to this Course Guide and all instructions in the study units. Also, you are urged to attend all your tutorials and schools where you will meet other 'distant' learners; you will find that you have much in common.


Study units

You should read each study unit carefully because it guides your learning. Each unit tells you what to do and how to approach any assignment related to the unit. If you do not read the study unit carefully, you may miss important information. It is also helpful to read as widely as possible. You should read articles in newspapers and journals, other books on the topic and related cases, if possible. The more widely you read, the better your appreciation and understanding of systems analysis and design will be.

Each study unit is organized into a number of sections. A unit usually starts with an Introduction, which outlines what will be covered. Within the main part of the unit, you will be referred to extra readings, and will have the opportunity to attempt activities and self-tests. Feedback to the self-tests is provided at the end of the unit. A summary is also included.



Throughout the study units, you will come across non-assessed activities. These are designed to help you remember what you have learned and to help you prepare for your assignments and examination. As well, the activities encourage you to reflect on the learning materials and apply them in your working life. It is vital that you make strong links between what you are learning from the course and what you are confronted with at work.


Checking understanding

Some of the concepts in this course will be new to you, and you may have to make an effort to understand them. Keep a note of any problems and raise them with your tutor as soon as possible. Be specific about the problem; your tutor can then help you much more easily.

This course is designed to assist you in moving easily from the required readings to the assignments and examination. When you do the assignments you will be applying information and techniques acquired during the course. To prepare for the assessed problems, you will undertake a variety of non-assessed activities while working your way through the study units. Most problems in ENVR S320 Environmental Impact Assessment will require qualitative and narrative responses.



You must submit the assignments to your tutor for formal assessment in accordance with the deadlines stated in the Assignment File. The non- assessed activities are by definition not part of your formal assessment, but it is very important that you complete all these activities as you work through the units. The non-assessed activities reflect the demands of the unit objectives and are designed to help you understand and apply the principles covered in the unit. If you complete them, you should have few problems in completing your assignments, which are part of the formal assessment for this course.

The course includes five assignments. Each of Assignment 1–4 weighs 20% and Assignment 5 weighs 40% towards the OCAS. In Assignment 1–4, the marks of the best 3 out of 4 will be counted. The final assignment (i.e. Assignment 5) is compulsory. The assignments build on the extensive course literature and unit-based materials.

Note: The actual dates for submission of assignments are stated in the Assignment File.


Final examination and grading

The final examination for Environmental Impact Assessment will be of three hours' duration and will contribute to 50 per cent of the overall course score. The examination will consist of questions which reflect the types of activities and tutor-marked problems you have previously encountered. The examination will give due emphasis to the important critical abilities required in writing and discussing EIA issues, concepts and methods.

To earn a passing grade for the course, you must submit all assignments and attain a passing grade on these and on your final examination. If, for some good reason, you are unable to complete one or more assignment(s), contact your Course Coordinator to see if alternative arrangements can be made.


Assessment summary

Below are the total marks allocated to the assignments and to your final examination. Remember, in order to pass ENVR S320 Environmental Impact Assessment, you must pass both the assignment component and the examination.


AssessmentCourse area coveredWeighting
Assignment 1Units 1-210%Best 3 out of 4
will be counted
Assignment 2Units 3-410%
Assignment 3Units 5-610%
Assignment 4Units 7-810%
Assignment 5Units 9-1020% (Compulsory)
ExaminationUnits 1–1050%

Tutors and tutorials

Your tutor will mark and comment on your assignments, keep a close watch on your progress, and help you with any difficulties you might encounter during the course. Mail your assignments in accordance with the timetable provided in your course package. Your tutor will mark and return them to you as soon as possible.

It is important to keep a copy of all the assignments you submit for marking in case the assignment is lost in the mail. Copies will also prove useful should you wish to make reference to them during telephone conversations. You may contact your tutor by telephone if you need help, for example if:

  • you do not understand any part of the study units, the textbook or the assigned readings
  • you have any difficulty with activities or self-tests
  • you have a question or problem with assignments, with your tutor's comments or grading on an assignment.

To assist you in this course, regular tutorials will be organized with your assigned tutor, as well as day schools. You will be notified of the dates, times and location of these tutorials and schools, together with the name of your tutor, as soon as you are allocated a tutorial group.

We strongly recommend that you attend these tutorials. They will provide considerable assistance in your study of systems analysis and design and improve your chances of gaining higher marks. As well, they will bring you into contact with other learners who are studying through Hong Kong Metropolitan University.


Electronic mail

You may submit any study problems to your assigned tutor through email. This channel provides flexibility to both tutors and students in overcoming the limitations of telephone tutoring in solving more technical issues.


Online Learning Environment

This course is supported by HKMU's Online Learning Environment (OLE). You can find course materials and the latest course information from the OLE and use the discussion board to communicate with your tutor, the Course Coordinator and fellow students.

ENVR S320 Environmental Impact Assessment is intended to equip you with the skills necessary to make an effective contribution in this field of endeavour. EIA is an exciting facet of environmental studies, and your study will take you towards the forefront of current EIA thinking. The course will be presented through ten study units, taking you through various aspects of the EIA process. You will also be introduced to many of the documents and readings associated with this field. You will be supported during the course through tutorials and the Online Learning Environment, and assessment will take the form of five assignments plus a final examination.

We hope that you find this course useful to your present or future work in the environmental field. Good luck, and enjoy the course!

Alan Kwok

Alan Kwok has over 35 years' experience in environmental assessment and management in North America and Asia. He undertook extensive EIA work in the US relating to oil and gas production platforms, power stations, offshore drilling and dredging and spoil disposal. In Asia, he participated in environmental projects in Hong Kong, mainland China, Macau, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore that were related to the assessment of environmental impacts of urban improvement and infrastructure projects funded by the public and private sectors as well as international funding agencies. In recent years, he has been increasingly involved in emerging issues including climate change adaptation and mitigation, carbon foot printing, carbon trading and low carbon development.

Alan was the founding chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Environmental Impact Assessment. He is a member of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) and was on the Board of Directors of the IAIA from 2005 to 2009.


Allen Wan

With overseas and local qualification as well as experience, Allen Wan is recognized as an Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) professional. After graduation from the University of British Columbia with a Chemistry degree, he worked for a commercial testing laboratory and an environmental consulting firm in Canada. In Hong Kong and in addition to experience in a consulting firm, Allen gained his MPhil from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Department of Civil & Structural Engineering engaging in ISO 14000 series research and later extended to Department of Building Services Engineering on the development of the Hong Kong Building Environmental Assessment Method.

More recently, Allen has expanded to Occupational Safety and Health, where he was a government official and later worked for a multi-national company in the construction industry where he gained his RSO, RSA and CMIOSH. Currently, he is a Lecturer at Hong Kong Metropolitan University responsible for EHS-related courses.