Environmental Auditing and Management Systems

TBC for Autumn 2018

Price: TBC

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Module Leader Walter Wehrmeyer
Other contributors Steve Lowe
Number of credits 15
Number of ECTS credits 7.5
Module availability Semester 2
Overall student workload 150 Hours
Units of assessment Weighting towards module mark (%)
Pre-module reflective essay 30%
Post-module essay 70%
Alternative assessment N/A

Qualifying condition(s): A weighted aggregated mark of 50% is required to pass the module.

Pre-requisite/co-requisites: None.

Module overview

The dominant approach towards identifying, documenting and minimising the effects an organisation has on its specific and the wider (physical and to some extent social) environment is originated in the Total Quality Management (TQM) Movement. Auditing as the systematic process of performance evaluation against pre-set standards, as well the need to embed all activities into a contrived system of managing activities are at the heart of environmental management. They are also at the heart of this module, which has the purpose of introducing environmental auditing and environmental management systems in a practical, informative and useful manner. The course will explore the dominant, practical and topical concerns surrounding environmental auditing and environmental management systems. It is one of the components required for the Associate Membership of IEMA.

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • To provide a solid understanding of the knowledge, skills and steps required to undertaking an Environmental Audit
  • To understand & develop appropriate Environmental Policies
  • To be able to competently read an environmental audit report
  • Increase understanding of the meaning and function of EMS and its certified standards; Improve the understanding of the role of EMS; Aid in the collection of data within an EMS; Appreciate common implementation problems; Discuss and highlight practical experiences of EMS implementation.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Understand the knowledge, process and practice of auditing in an organisation, as well as put the results of an audit into an organisational context (C)
  • Be able to outline and articulate differences in types of audits (K), as well as how auditing can support broader environmental management (K)
  • Review an organisation’s environmental performance in broad terms (T) and develop a Register of Significant Environmental Aspects
  • Advise on the auditability of an organisation to adopt a register of significant environmental aspects (T, P).

Key: C-Cognitive/Analytical; K-Subject Knowledge; T-Transferable Skills; P- Professional/ Practical skills.

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Implementation aspects of management systems
  • ISO14001, EMAS – their content, main differences and similarities
  • Details to consider when implementing ISO14001
  • Developing and reviewing an environmental aspects register
  • Role of auditing in EMS implementation.

Methods of teaching/learning

The learning and teaching is designed to encourage active, case-based learning. The module will encourage students to explore and critically evaluate theoretical perspectives underpinning practice cases, and consider their application to their own organisations, as far as they know them.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lectures and class discussions (25 hours)
  • Site visits (7 hours)
  • Independent study (118 hours).

Assessment strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their critical thinking and practical skills in understanding and evaluation the environmental performance of a company, as well as the ability to critically reflect on the concept and practice of auditing.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • 1000 word individual pre-module reflective essay. (30%)
  • 3000 word post-module reflective essay or company report. (70%)

Formative assessment

  • Lectures and class discussions (25 hours)
  • Site visits (7 hours)
  • Independent study (118 hours)


Commentary and feedback on the written output, as well as the class discussions.

Essential reading

Blewett, V., and O’Keeffe, V. (2011) ‘Weighing the pig never made it heavier: Auditing OHS, environmental social auditing as verification of process in Australia’, Safety Science, 49, pp.1014–1021.

Bohte, J. and Meier, K.J. (2000) ‘Goal Displacement: Assessing the Motivation for Organizational Cheating’ Public Administration Review, 60, pp. 173-182 Texas A&M University [online]. Available at: http://teep.tamu.edu/pubs/par01.pdf

Epstein, M; Roy, MJ (2007): Implementing a Corporate Environmental Strategy: Establishing Coordination and Control within Multinational Companies; in: Business Strategy and the Environment; Vol. 16, 389–403

Gonzalez-Benito, J.; Gonzalez-Benito, O; (2005): An Analysis of the Relationship between Environmental Motivations and ISO14001 Certification: British Journal of Management, Vol. 16, 133–148

ISO (2015): ISO14001 Management Systems Standards Guidelines

Morrow, D; Rondinelli, D. (2002): Adopting Corporate Environmental Management Systems: Motivations and Results of ISO 14001 and EMAS Certification; in: European Management Journal Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 159–171

Rondinelli, D; Vastag, G: (2000) Panacea, Common Sense, or Just a Label? The Value of ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems; in: European Management Journal Vol. 18, No. 5, pp. 499–510.

Recommended reading

A separate list is available on SurreyLearn.

Background reading

A separate list is available on SurreyLearn.

Contact us

Find us

Centre for Environment and Sustainability
Arthur C Clarke building, Floor 2
University of Surrey