General Details

Full Title
Transcript Title
N/A %
Subject Area
CHEM - Chemistry
LIFE - Life Sciences
08 - NFQ Level 8
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Fiona McArdle, Ted McGowan
Programme Membership
SG_SFORE_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Science in Forensic Science and Analysis SG_SFORE_K08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Science in Forensic Investigation and Analysis

The systematic examination of environmental information that is used in litigation to allocate responsibility for contamination.  The successful use of environmental forensics encompasses an understanding of a variety of disciplines and the wisdom to understand which forensic tool(s) are best suited for a particular set of facts.  The module introduces the chemical and biological tools which can be used in Environmental Forensic Investigations.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Evaluate the environmental liability legislation framework and evaluate the consequences of some major environmental pollution incidents.


Examine a range of sources and the fate of environmental pollutants.


Design a programme for estimating the age and source of a pollution release.


Evaluate the scientific analytical methods used in establishing the nature of pollutants and assess the signature of pollutants.


Statistically appraise the pollutant signature.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be taught through a variety of modes including lecturers, workshops, research presentations and tutorial. Students will learn by sourcing information through government agencies, research publications and expert experts. This information will be reviewed, discussed and evaluated in workshops and lectures.

Module Assessment Strategies

This module will be assessed by presentation, report, short question test and final examination.

Repeat Assessments

Repeat continuous assessment and / or final examination.

Module Dependencies


Indicative Syllabus

Environmental legislation and EU directives

The role of the EPA

Source and fate of environmental pollutants and transportation of pollutants.

Pollution Types - Organic (petrochemical, pesticide, chlorinated solvents, PAH), Heavy Metals, Inorganic ions, Microbiological.

Pollution matrix (Air, Water, Soil)

Chemical methods in environmental forensics

Biological methods in environmental forensics

Statistical interpretation of pollutant profiles.

Case Studies (evaluation of some major environmental pollution incidents)

Advances in Oil Hydrocarbon Fingerprinting Techniques

  • Oil Chemistry
  • Specific methods for detailed oil component analysis
  • Oil spill Identification Protocol
  • Tiered Analytical Approach
  • Oil and Petroleum Product Type Screening and Differentiation
  • General Chemical composition of crude oil
  • Effects of weathering on Oil chemical composition and physical property changes
  • Characterisation and Identification of spilled oils
  • Biomarker Fingerprinting

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
50 %
End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
50 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Presentation Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 20 % Week 4 1,4
2 Short Answer Questions Formative Assessment - % OnGoing 1,2,3,4,5
3 Written Report Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 20 % Week 8 2,4,5
4 Short Answer Questions Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 10 % Week 10 1,2,3,4,5

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Final Examination Final Exam UNKNOWN 50 % Week 15 1,2,3,4

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Tiered Classroom Lecture 2 Weekly 2.00
Workshop Computer Laboratory Workshop 1 Weekly 1.00
Independent Learning UNKNOWN Self Study 4 Weekly 4.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2014-09-18 Introduction to Environmental Forensics Academic Press
ISBN 0124046967 ISBN-13 9780124046962

Environmental forensics deals with questions such as: Whose hazardous waste is it? When was it placed in its present location? How did it happen? How much have people and the environment been exposed? How should liabilaty be allocated? The third edition of INTRODUCTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL FORENSICS will provide the most current coverage of issues and techniques crucial to forensic investigations of environmental disasters. It will show the evolution of the field, including topics such as chemical fingerprinting of hydrocarbons and PCBs, forensic air dispersion modeling analysis, and soil and groundwater modeling. Written by an international group of scientific specialists in order to cover this broad and important field most fully, the new volume will rely on reader feedback to focus on the most important areas for environmental professionals. INTRODUCTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL FORENSICS, third edition will be of interest to consultants, regulators, attorneys, or others whose practice involves identifying sources of pollution and allocating responsibility among multiple parties. Provides a comprehensive review of all aspects of environmental forensics Coverage ranges from emerging statistical methods to state-of-the-art analytical techniques, such as gas chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry and polytopic vector analysis Numerous examples and case studies are provided to illustrate the application of these forensic techniques in environmental investigations

Required Reading
2008-07-14 Methods in Environmental Forensics CRC Press
ISBN 0849350077 ISBN-13 9780849350078

While environmental catastrophes can be naturally occurring, often they are the result of criminal intent or malfeasance. Sorting out the details when the land itself is the only witness requires a special set of investigative skills. For accountability to be established, investigators must be able to answer these questions with a measure of scientific certainty: How and when did the contamination occur? Who caused the contamination? What are the consequences and extent of liability? Offering investigators a complete field manual, Methods in Environmental Forensics organizes the work of leading international experts who demonstrate the most effective techniques for determining the source of environmental contaminations. The book begins with the presentation of a case and follows the tasks of an active investigator from the cases inception up through the delivery of expert court testimony. The text then reviews those scientific methods that have been used with success in environmental forensic investigations. Detailed information is provided on chemical fingerprinting techniques as they apply to ground water, soils, sediments, and air. Lastly, the scientific methods presented are examined from a legal perspective with an emphasis on the admissibility and presentation of evidence and the delivery of expert testimony. This unique and comprehensive volume gives forensic chemists, investigators and attorneys the tools needed to solve mysteries of toxic devastation and build cases that will establish the accountability of those responsible. Its editor, Stephen M. Mudge, has been conducting environmental forensic investigations for many years. He has served as an expert witness in several environmental contamination cases, and he continues to research new methods for the quantification and source apportionment of chemicals around the world.

Required Reading
2008 Environmental Forensics Royal Society of Chemistry
ISBN 9780854049578 ISBN-13 0854049576

This exciting book gives an overview of environmental forensics and related topics with contributions from worldwide experts.

Required Reading
2016-09-08 Soil in Criminal and Environmental Forensics Springer
ISBN 9783319331157 ISBN-13 3319331159

This introductory volume to a new series on Soil Forensics gives a kaleidoscopic view of a developing forensic expertise. Forensic practitioners and academic researchers demonstrate, by their joint contributions, the extent and complexity of soil forensics. their reports exemplify the broad range of sciences and techniques applied in all stages of forensic soil examinations, from investigations at crime scenes to providing evidence that can be used in court proceedings. Moreover the necessity is depicted of co-operation as a condition for any work in soil forensics between scientists of different disciplines, but no less between scientists and law enforcers.Soils play a role in environmental crimes and liability, as trace evidence in criminal investigations and, when searching for and evaluating, buried human remains. This book shows soil forensics as practiced in this legal context, emerging and solidifying in many countries all over the world, differing in some respects because of differences in legal systems but ultimately sharing common grounds.

Required Reading
2017-10-16 Oil Spill Environmental Forensics Case Studies Butterworth-Heinemann
ISBN 0128044349 ISBN-13 9780128044346

Oil Spill Environmental Forensics Case Studies reviews recent developments in environmental forensics analysis methodologies, which are most frequently used in oil spill characterization and identification studies and environmental forensic investigations. Each case study provides a complete view of the various forensic techniques used to identify the source of an oil spill into the environment. The forensic procedures described within represent various methods from engineers and scientists throughout the world. The book deploys case studies to demonstrate the use of environmental forensic principles and techniques in actual environmental oil spills. All chapters are written by international experts from both academia and industry. In addition, the relevant concepts and theories are elucidated at the beginning of each chapter. Famous incidents discussed include: Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Fingerprinting Oil-Derived Floc in Deepwater Environments (2010), and the Kalamazoo River dilbit spill in Michigan (2010). The authors chronicle both the successes and failures of the techniques used for each of these events. Presents cases in each chapter on the application of specific oil spill environmental forensic techniques Features chapters written by international experts from both academia and industry Includes relevant concepts and theories elucidated for each theme

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Parameters of Water Quality, Interpretation & Standards, EPA, 2001.

Standard Methods for the Examination of Water & Wastewater, American Public Health Association.

Environmental Forensics: Proceedings of the 2009 Inef Annual Conference, Ed Robert D Morrison, Gwen O'Sullivan, Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) 2010.

Environmental Forensics: Contaminant specific guide, Robert D. Morrison, Brian L. Murphy, Academic Press, 2005.

Practical Environmental Forensics: Processes and Case Histories, Patrick J. Sullivan, Franklin J. Agardy, Richard K. Traub, Wiley, 2000.

Environmental Forensics, Ronald E. Hester, Roy M. Harrison, RSC Publishing, 2008.

Environmental Forensics: Principles and Applications, R.D. Morrison, CRC Press, 1999

An Introduction to Forensic Gerscience, Elisa Bergslien, Wiley 2012.

Methods in Environmental Forensics, Stephen M. Mudge, CRC Press, 2007.

The Earth Cries out: Forensic Chemistry and Environmental Science. Kenneth McIntosh, Mason Crest Publishers, 2008.

GeoForensics, Alastair Ruffell, jenifer McKinley, Wiley 2008.

Geological and Soic Evidence, Kenneth Pye, CRC Press, 2007.

Environmental Investigation & Remediation: 1,4-Dioxan and other solvent stabilisers, Thomas K.G. Mohr, Julie A. Stickney, Willian H. DiGuiseppi, CRC Press, 2010.

Journal Resources


Other Resources

Literature databases

Science direct

Web of Science


Additional Information