Stuart Divall is an incorporated civil engineer working for multi-disciplinary consultant Gifford & Partners. In September 1997 he began three years of part time study for an MSc in integrated environmental management via distance learning from the University of Bath.
Divall says he embarked on the course because it presented him with a chance to develop his career and the skills base of Gifford & Partners at the same time as business opportunity was occurring for the company.
The firm is branching into the environmental services market by offering impact assessment and auditing. It already has the expertise to provide geotechnical, archaeological, feasibility and design services, and by gaining this qualification I can provide the company with environmental management skills so it can provide clients with a complete package.
Divalls present responsibilities at Gifford & Partners have a strong connection with the environment and although he is only part way through the course he has already started applying his newly acquired skills to his everyday activity.
My work is split between providing contaminated land remediation strategies by way of auditing and impact assessments and giving advice to clients on products and materials that are safe for a particular project, he says.
His long term aim is to become an environmental management specialist for Gifford & Partners.
With this qualification and further experience I hope to be able to provide the company with an environmental management consultancy that will serve industry and construction clients.
Students studying for the MSc in integrated environmental management must complete a core module overviewing environmental management systems and any five of six further modules including impact assessment, environmental auditing, life cycle assessment and energy management.
They must also submit a dissertation on an approved subject in order to gain their MSc. Students opting not to complete the dissertation are awarded a postgraduate IEM diploma.
Divall investigated suitable sources of learning to the aims of furthering his own and his companys development and says the course offered by the University of Bath fitted his requirements exactly.
The IEM course content is ideally suited for managers with environmental responsibilities because it is based on the integration of environmental technology and management together with study on the latest legislation. Being able to obtain a qualification by distance learning was a prerequisite of mine because I did not want the activity to detract from my work for Gifford & Partners.
As soon as I put forward a proposal to my employers outlining my intentions they were very supportive offering me full sponsorship.
The IEM course has been designed to help directly relate environmental management to work place needs says the University of Baths department of continuing and distance education marketing and communications manager Marie Fraser.
The aim of the course is to provide strategic environmental management skills. To suit the needs of professional people the course has been designed with a practical base using case studies and a variety of different media including textbooks, audio and video tapes and workbooks.
Using many different methods of learning helps the information sink in better and the practical nature of the course makes the subjects covered highly appropriate for engineers says Fraser.
The course is very wide ranging, covering all of the aspects that are needed by someone involved in environmental management. Distance learning suits professional people because they can apply the new skills to their jobs progressively so the course can have an immediate impact. It also means they do not have to give up any time from work or attend courses in their holiday time.
Fraser says the course was initiated in March 1995 due to the environment becoming more of an issue and more popular as a subject.
Standards have become a lot tougher. The introduction of the British environmental management standard BS7750 and the many EU directives on the environment had a strong influence on the establishment of the course and the introduction of the international standard ISO14001 which will soon replace BS7750 forms a critical part of the course at the moment.