Module Identifier EA22710  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr John P Grattan  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Dr Debra J Croft  
Course delivery Lecture   5 lectures x 2 hours. 6 lectures x 1 hour  
  Practical   5 practicals x 1 hour  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam1.5 Hours EXAMINATION 2 questions in 1.5 hours one of which will be compulsory50%
Semester Assessment GROUP PROJECT Each student is responsible for specific sections of report (40%), overall quality of the entire report 10%.50%
Supplementary Exam RESIT EXAMINATION 1.5 hours exam50%
Supplementary Assessment WRITTEN REPORT Submit written report based on a provided forensic geoscience data set (to IGES office on day of examination).50%

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
Describe the forensic science framework operating in the UK and elsewhere, and the requirements of the legal system.

Describe and evaluate a range of the analytical methods available in forensic geoscience.

Analytically assess data produced in forensic geoscience analysis.

Identify, retrieve and utilize information and resources available in the forensic geoscience field.

Specify and evaluate the requirements necessary to undertake forensic casework.

Work as a team and analyse and present information in a research report.


1. Introduction and course outline; casework examples; outline of the legal framework (UK and elsewhere); history of forensic science.

2. Criminal and civil contexts. Serious crime, pollution, engineering failure, environmental cases, etc. Discussion of group case project and report.

3. Maps and other published data - use and limitations. Issues of sampling, evidence handling and storage (including record keeping), potential evidential sources and material (particularly rocks and soil).

4. Chemical characterisation (particularly geochemistry). Guided practical work on chemical data sets based on a case scenario.

5. Physical characterisation (colour, particle size, shape, grain counting). Guided practical work.

6. Biological characterisation (diatoms, pollen, spores, plant parts, fossils,etc.) and anthropogenic components (glass, hair, fibres, etc.).
7. Workplace specific materials. Guided practical work.

8. Statistical analysis of data, weight of evidence, reporting and expert witness testimony.

9. Hypothetical examples - using combinations of techniques and data.

10. Presentation of case reports.

Brief description

This course is taught by Dr. Debra Croft, a geological and forensic consultant and is an introductory course in the specialism of Forensic Geoscience covering: the legal framework (in the UK and elsewhere), the validity of use of analytical techniques in a forensic context, issues of sampling, evidence handling and storage (including record keeping), the types of cases (criminal and civil) to which earth science techniques are appropriate, evidential sources and materials (particularly soil), an outline of the available techniques for the chemical, biological and physical characterization of samples, a more in depth look at certain techniques (including geochemistry), statistical analysis of data, reporting and expert witness testimony.

Module Skills

Problem_solving Analysis of data sets.  
Research skills Library and IT based research.  
Communication Written communication  
Improving own Learning and Performance Not specifically developed  
Team work Group component of project  
Information Technology Used extensively but not assessed  
Application of Number Optional part of exam and integral to project  
Personal Development and Career planning Optional tutorial  
Subject Specific Skills Awareness of legal framework and assessment of specific sampling skills related to forensic geoscience casework.  

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Davis, J.C. (1986) Statistics and data analysis in geology Wiley
Gill, R.C.O. (1997) Modern analytical geochemistry Longman
K. Pye and D.J. Croft (2004) Forensic Geoscience: Principles, Techniques and Applications Geological Society, London
Murray, R.C. (2004) Evidence from the Earth - forensic geology & criminal investigation Mountain Press
Robertson, B. and Vignaux, G.A. (1995) Interpreting evidence : evaluating forensic science in the courtroom Wiley
Schumm, S.A. (1998) To interpret the earth: ten ways to be wrong Cambridge University Press
Shuirman, G., Slosson, J.E. (1992) Forensic engineering: environmental case histories for civil engineers and geologists Academic Press
Singer, M.J., Munns, D.N. (1996) Soils: an introduction Prentice Hall
White, P. (Editor) (2004) Crime scene to court: the essentials of forensic science 2nd Edition. Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge
Wild, A. (1993) Soils and the environment: an introduction Cambridge University Press


This module is at CQFW Level 5