FORENSIC 706 : Environmental Forensic Science


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Concepts of environmental science. Environmental monitoring and spill analysis, environmental legislation, criminal and environmental law. Case studies and practical work.

Course Overview

The objective of this course is to examine how the source of environmental damage associated with illegal discharges and spills, and with failure to comply with resource consents, can be investigated in such a way that it will stand up to rigorous scrutiny in a criminal or environment court.
This aim requires
• an understanding of environmental concepts, particularly those pertaining to the stability of ecosystems
• an understanding of the types of impacts which can affect ecosystems
• an understanding of how contaminants are cycled and transformed in ecosystems
• an understanding of how we can sample and analyse for selected contaminants
• an understanding of the legal protection of the environment, and how this protection is enforced

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: Permission of Programme Director

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Present a coherent discussion of the legal and scientific issues involved in a RMA issue, given appropriate source material (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Identify the authorities responsible for a given part of the N. Z. environment (Capability 1)
  3. Assess and interpret information on the toxicity, ecotoxicity, chemical properties, and physical properties of chemical substances, and use this information to predict the likely effects of a release on the receiving ecosystem (Capability 2, 3 and 6)
  4. Design a simple sampling scheme to monitor the effects of a given release (Capability 2 and 3)
  5. Explain the way that those responsible for the release would be dealt with under the RMA or related legislation (Capability 2 and 4)
  6. Explain and communicate the key issues in a specific environmental forensic science case study (Capability 1, 2, 4 and 5)
  7. Critically discuss the operation of risk assessment and risk management in an environmental context, especially as applied under HSNO (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  8. Describe and discuss the enforcement provisions in the RMA (Capability 1 and 2)
  9. Describe the role of expert evidence in the Environment Court (Capability 1)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignments 15% Individual Coursework
Presentation 10% Group Coursework
Assignments 15% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 60% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Final Exam

Learning Resources

There is no specified text.  Readings will be provided via Canvas.

Special Requirements

Students are required to participate in class discussions and make in-class presentations.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 30 hours of lectures, 60 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 60 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 11/01/2020 03:01 p.m.