Dr John Maskall

Dr John Maskall

Visiting Teaching Fellow

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

Lecturer on BSc Environmental Science and MSc Environmental Consultancy
Development and evaluation of innovative teaching methods.
Educational Development of the BSc Environmental Science
Research in environmental geochemistry.


Dr John Maskall is an environmental geochemist with interests in trace metals in soils and solid wastes, their release into waters and uptake into plants. He worked extensively in Kenya from 1987-1991 (as a PhD student) and again in 1999-2000 (as a project leader) studying the geochemical origins of trace element deficiencies in wild animal species in National Parks. From this work he gained a PhD from Imperial College, London in 1991. In 1992 he was appointed to an industry-funded post-doctoral research post, also at Imperial College, to investigate the extent of heavy metal contamination and its downwards migration at ancient lead smelting sites throughout the UK.

He starting lecturing in environmental science at the University of Sunderland in 1996 where he gained a Certificate in Education (Higher Education). He moved to the University of Plymouth in April 1998. Since this time he has been involved in supervising a number of research projects related to contaminated land. These include a study of the release of antimony from minewaste contaminated soils and its speciation in surface waters and the biogeochemical characterisation of tin mining spoils in Malaysia.
More recently, he has become involved in the development of innovative teaching methods and pedagogic research. He is particularly interested in the role of field-based learning in environmental sceince and its enhancement through the use of information technology. He has developed and implemented the ‘Hotspot’ simulation in which users investigate a virtual contaminated land site. In 2004, John was involved in the submission of the sucessful bid for the CETL in Experiential Learning in the Natural and Environmental Sciences. He has been a member of the CETL management group since its inception in 2005 with particular responsibility for fieldwork development and has facilitated a range of teaching innovations across the CETL subject areas of environmental science, geology, geography and biology. 

In 2008, John co-authored a Learning and Teaching Guide for the GEES Subject Centre on Designing Effective Fieldwork for the Environmental and Natural Sciences.

Professional membership

Fellow of the HE Academy

Member of the Association of Learning Technology

Roles on external bodies

Member of the Advisory Group on a ESRC/EPSRC Technology Enhanced Learning Project at the Univeristy of Southampton on "Merging cognition and technology to enhance learning in the field". June 2006 - May 2007.

Staff serving as external examiners

Adnan Turki – PhD Examination at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, November 1997.

Title: An investigation of metal partitioning and organic pollution in surface sediments from Tees Bay and the Tees Estuary, UK

Awarded: July 1998

Kevin Cordes - – PhD Examination at the University of Derby, September 2000.

Title: Leaching and bioavailability of selected elements from coal-fired power station waste

Awarded: May 2001

Research interests

Field-based learning in environmental science
Use of information technology to enhance and simulate experiential learning  

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

PhD University of Plymouth – Awarded February 2004

M.J. Nash – The mobility and speciation of antimony in contaminated soils and waters

Grants & contracts

January 2000 Student Centered Learning Initiative, University of Plymouth. Development of Hotspot - a simulation of site investigation of contaminated land. £1500.
August 2005 JISC and GEES Subject Centre Elearning program. Development of a web-based version of the Hotspot simulation - a feasibility study. £5000.
March 2006 - JISC and GEES Subject Centre Elearning program. Development of a web-based version of the Hotspot simulation - completion of pilot project. £2500.
April 2006 - Experiential Learning CETL, Univeristy of Plymouth. Generation of an extended dataset for the Hotspot simulation. £3000.
December 2006 - Evaluation of Environmental Techniques module EOE1205. Experiential Learning CETL, University of Plymouth £7723
April 2008 - Designing Effective Fieldwork for the Environmental and Natural Sciences. GEES Subject Centre £1000
July 2009 - Refinements to the web-based version of the Hotspot simulation. Experiential Learning CETL, University of Plymouth £1495
May 2010 - Improving accessibility to environmental science fieldwork using a portable communications network. Experiential Learning CETL, University of Plymouth £2000


A. Stokes, T. Collins, J. Maskall, J. Lea, P. Lunt and S. Davies (2012) Enabling Remote Access to Fieldwork: Gaining Insight into the Pedagogic Effectiveness of ‘Direct’ and ‘Remote’ Field Activities.
Journal of Geography in Higher Education 36 197-222

J.E. Maskall and S. Cotterell (2011) A project-based approach to research skills development in first year undergraduates. Planet 24 22-29 J.E. Maskall and A. Stokes (2008) Designing Effective Fieldwork for the Environmental and Natural Sciences. GEES Subject Centre Learning and Teaching Guide.

J.E. Maskall, A. Stokes, J.B. Truscott, A. Bridge, K. Magnier and V. Calderbank (2007) Supporting fieldwork using information technology. Planet 18 18-21

M.J. Nash, J. E. Maskall and S. J. Hill (2006) Developments with anion exchange stationary phases for HPLC-ICP-MS analysis of antimony species. Analyst 131 724-730

J.E. Maskall, M. Nash and M. Sanders (2005) Hotspot - a computer-based simulation of site investigation of contaminated land. Planet 15 29-32 

Other academic activities

"Using historical lead mining sites to study the environmental impacts of contaminated land" Contribution to the Innovations in Field Teaching Conference, Slapton, Devon, April 2008

“Raising the bar at stage 1 - developing research and project management skills in first year undergraduates”. To Higher Education Academy Conference, The Future of the Student Learning Experience, University of Manchester, 30 June – 2 July 2009

“The Hotspot simulation – lessons learnt over ten years of using technology in environmental science teaching” To GEES Subject Centre 10th Anniversary Conference, University of Plymouth 7-9th July 2010

“Final Year Projects – trying to keep everyone happy”. To GEES 11 Conference, Birmingham, 30th June 2011