SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHF421848
Module Leader Moyra McNaughtan
School School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment
Subject Chemical Science
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

M3F124481 Instrumental Analytical Chemistry, M3F121844 Environmental Chemistry and Chemical Hazards M3F421841 Forensic Analysis

Summary of Content

The principles of Environmental Forensics will be studied. The module investigates sampling strategies and the application of a range of analytical chemical techniques to the determination of the major types of pollutant/contaminant compounds such as pesticides which occur in the environment and may become incorporated into the food chain either legitimately or as a result of deliberate/malicious human action or as the result of an accident.


Environmental Forensics, Pollution and Monitoring overview. Sampling: General considerations. The grab, impinger, adsorption tube, colorimetric tube, dust monitor, and cryogenic trap. Solid phase extraction techniques (SPE) Analytical Techniques: Pollution monitoring instruments, applications of gravimetry, titrimetry, chromatography and spectrometry / spectroscopy. GC-MS and LC-MS. Pesticides: Role of pesticides and insecticides in agriculture, adverse effects including decomposition patterns ,persistance, and incorporation into the food chain. Pollutants: Organic pollutants including quantification of dioxins, PCB's, volatile organic carbon componds (VOC's), pollutants in air, water and soil, and in the food chain. Inorganic pollutants' analysis and sources. Clean-up and pollution abatement strategies. Adulteration, and counterfeiting of food and beverages, including safety issues.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:1 Critically review environmental sampling strategies to address specific scenarios;2 Use and appraise appropriate analytical procedures for the determination of additives, contaminants, adulterants, and pesticide residues in the environment and the food chain;3 Understand the forensic approach in investigation of environmental contamination resulting from an accident/incident;4 Understand the chemical and toxicological properties of pesticides and insecticides and how these relate to their analysis;5 Appreciate general pollution abatement principles;6 Understand the legal background to environmental protection.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

This module will be taught by an integrated package of lectures reinforced by practical work and tutorials. Students will study and solve real world environmental forensic problems encouraging divergent thinking and broader, deeper learning and leading to an appreciation of the forensic nature of environmental crime and related food adulteration/counterfeiting issues. Students will take part in practical laboratory work which will enhance data acquisition and manipulation skills for a forensic crime investigation, individual and group working skills, technical report writing skills and communication skills in general. Emphasis is given to the need for laboratory data to be of the highest standard and role of expert witness is stressed. Use of state of the art equipment will enhance their employability. Through the use of the managed learning environment GCU Learn, students will become more engaged, flexible and independent in their learning as there will be a wide range of learning resources available on line. In addition to the core module content, links to relevant external application notes and videos from sources around the world will be made available. Students will receive individualised feedback on their performance through one-to-one contact with tutors at tutorials and through the timely return of marked coursework, which will reinforce the students' learning. The lectures will be used to convey the concepts and principles covered with appropriate examples. This material will be reinforced by tutorial, seminar and practical work. Independent learning will be encouraged and will be a major contributor in the students' oral presentations. Students will be supported on the managed learning environment, GCULearn.

Indicative Reading

Environmental Analytical Chemistry, F. W. Fifield and P. J. Haines, Blackwell Science, 2000, ISBN-13:- 9780632053834 Environmental Forensics, R.E. Hestor and Ioana Gloria Petrisor, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2008, ISBN-13:-9780854049578

Transferrable Skills

The module will develop numeracy, data handling skills and interpersonal skills associated with the practical work. The seminars will develop oral presentation skills while the tutorials and the examination will require students to exercise problem solving skills in applying familiar techniques to new areas of application.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Assessment (FT) 20.00
Independent Learning (FT) 130.00
Tutorials (FT) 6.00
Seminars (FT) 2.00
Practicals (FT) 18.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 40.00 35% Laboratory Portfolio Learning Outcome 2
Exam (Exams Office) 2.00 60.00 35% Unseen written examination, choice of 3 questions from 5, 20 marks each. (Learning Outcomes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6)