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GAP3049 - Geoforensics

Module Content

This module covers the application of geoscience to investigating problems of a humanitarian, environmental, domestic, military and terrorist nature. A range of geoscience disciplines are considered, from the macro- to the micro and focus on geology, archaeology, human geography, physical geography, with strong historical and sociological perspectives. High levels of accuracy in recording, critical and innovative thinking, ability to read large amounts of information and team work are all required to succeed in this module. Topographic and urban mapping, soil sampling and analysis, the examination of trace geological evidence have all been used in assisting humanitarian and domestic crimes for over 100 years. Recent advances in remote sensing, computer applications and laboratory analysis have resulted in an increase in the application of the geosciences to criminalistics, reflected in conferences and books. These two have come together to be included in Geoforensics, the topic you will study. This module is cross-disciplinary and will appeal to those interested in Human Geography, Archaeology, Physical Geography equally, as well as Law and History.

Learning Outcomes

Application of new and routine geoscience techniques that you will not have encountered before. You will thus gain an understanding of the importance of careful reading, note-taking, team work, presentational skills (including pecha kucha) and multi-disciplinary approaches to problem-solving. Upon completion of the module, the successful student will be able to do a number of things detailed below.
• Understand the range of geoscience techniques applied to criminal, humanitarian and environmental legal investigations.
• Argue for the appropriate use of techniques in different (macro to micro, environment-specific) investigations.
• Stand by their decisions and results in a legal framework: to have notes examined, their observations questioned and their arguments countered.
• Provide evidence of the historical and scientific background to their arguments.
• Present their Geoforensic understanding in both a technical, detailed manner and transpose this to an easy to understand synopsis, such as presented to a jury.


Dr. Alastair Ruffell (Module Coordinator)
Guest Lecturers will be included

(T: taught; P: practiced; A: assessed)

Subject specific skills

T, P, A landscape interpretation; T remote sensing; T geophysics; T, P, A best practice in note-taking and recording.

Cognitive skills

P, A generating arguments based on hard data, presented in support of succinct arguments; P, A. questioning assumptions.

Transferable skills

P. debating (including legal issues); T, P, A. precise recording for auditing, assessing, stock-taking; T, P, A landscape interpretation for planning. Presentational skills.



Supplementary notes



 Exam (180 minutes)
 Class Test