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Unit (2019)

Information on this page, including unit offerings, is from the 2019 academic year.

Forensic Toxicology (BIO367)

Organisational Unit Medical, Molecular and Forensic Sciences
Credit Points 3
Availability MURDOCH: S2-internal
Teaching Timetables Murdoch S2
Description Poison: the silent killer or the coward's weapon? History is littered with examples of the devastating consequences of poisons. This unit integrates forensic toxicology with biochemistry, chemistry and pharmacology, illustrating it with case histories centred on victims, villains and scientists. Attention is paid to the mechanisms by which these compounds exert their poisonous effects. Training is provided in the application of the cutting-edge analytical technology used to identify toxins in body fluids and contaminated products, including chromatography and mass spectrometry.
Unit Learning Outcomes Knowledge
On completion of this unit, you should be able to demonstrate a broad and coherent understanding of:
1. The mode of toxic action of compounds of importance to human health, including pesticides, heavy metals and illicit drugs.
2. The physiological consequences of these modes of toxic action, including acute and chronic effects.

On completion of this unit, you should be able to demonstrate the following skills effectively:
3. The preparation of samples for analysis by modern instruments used in toxicological analysis for both identification and quantification.
4. The appropriate presentation and interpretation of data in the preparation of comprehensive toxicology reports.

On completion of this unit, you should be able to demonstrate confidence and competence in applying knowledge and skills to practice by:
5. Using your understanding of modes of toxic action and physiological symptoms to identify likely agents in poisoning cases.
6. Using your skills in toxicological analysis to identify and quantify the unknown toxins in samples from these poisoning cases.
7. Preparing a case report outlining the biology and chemistry underlying the toxin and its analysis.
Timetabled Learning Activities Lectures: 3 hours per week; laboratories: 4 x 3 hours.
Unit Learning Experiences The approach to learning in this unit is reflective of the fact that it is taken in the final semester of study, requiring students to consolidate learning from a broad range of fields in which they have already studied. The unit is focused on the mechanisms by which each class of compound exerts its toxic effect, allowing students to understand the biology, chemistry and forensic science associated with each topic. Particular focus is given to relating the biochemical mechanisms involved to the pathological effects of toxins, allowing students to develop important forensic skills. Throughout the unit, historical examples are provided, to provide an engaging context for the scientific content.
The lectures serve as an overview of each topic, helping the students guide themselves through additional self-directed study. Workshops provide the opportunity for students to discuss any aspect of this content, with an emphasis on consolidating knowledge of the different aspects of each class of toxin. Moderated discussions using LMS also provide assistance for this component. Throughout the course, we emphasise the technologies that are used to conduct toxicology analyses, which links into the laboratory classes, where students apply chemistry skills to relevant forensic investigations. Laboratory classes also include a focus on data analysis and the preparation of appropriate forensic case reports. This ensures the development of both practical skills and the ability to present and interpret data in a scientific and meaningful way.

Assessment Assessment task 1: Laboratory reports (x 4)
Alignment to ULOs: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Word length: 1600 (approx. 400 words per report)
Weighting: 30% (6% per report); marking time: 15 minutes
Due date: Approx. fortnightly throughout semester

Assessment task 2: Mid-semester test (multiple choice)
Alignment to ULOs: 1, 2
Duration: 1 hour
Weighting: 20%; marking time: 5 minutes
Due date: Mid-semester

Assessment task 3: Final exam (short and extended answer)
Alignment to ULOs: 1, 2, 5
Duration: 2 hours
Weighting: 50%; marking time: 15 minutes
Due date: End of semester

Assessment requires you to consolidate knowledge from across the unit to answer broad toxicological questions. Laboratory reports require you to interpret data from analytical technologies to answer toxicological problems.
Prerequisites Successful completion of, or concurrent enrolment in, either BIO247/BIO270 Biochemistry/Biochemistry I or BMS261/VET272 Human and Comparative Biochemistry/Comparative Mammalian Biochemistry or CHE207 Chemical Analysis.
Exclusions Students who have successfully completed BIO314 Forensic Toxicology or BIO373 Forensic Investigation may not enrol in this unit for credit.
Appears in these Courses/Majors:
see individual structures for context
Animal Health (BSc) [New in 2015]
Animal Science (BSc) [New in 2014]
Biological Sciences (BSc) [New in 2014]
Biology and Human Biology Major Teaching Area (BEd(Sec)) [New in 2019]
Biomedical Science (BSc) [New in 2014]
Chemistry (BSc) [New in 2014]
Clinical Laboratory Science (BSc) [New in 2015]
Conservation and Wildlife Biology (BSc) [New in 2014]
Criminology + Forensic Biology and Toxicology [Combined] (BCrim)+(BSc)
Crop and Pasture Science (BSc) [New in 2016]
Engineering Technology (BSc) [New in 2014]
Environmental Management and Sustainability (BSc) [New in 2014]
Environmental Science (BSc) [New in 2014]
Forensic Biology and Toxicology (BSc) [New in 2014]
Genetics and Molecular Biology (BSc) [New in 2014]
Laboratory Medicine (BSc/BLabMed) [New in 2016]
Marine Biology (BSc) [New in 2017]
Marine Science (BSc) [New in 2014]
Mathematics and Statistics (BSc) [New in 2014]
Mineral Science (BSc) [New in 2014]
Physics and Nanotechnology (BSc) [New in 2014]
Sport and Health Science (BSc) [New in 2014]
Appears in these Minors Pharmacology
Internet Access RequirementsMurdoch units normally include an online component comprising materials, discussions, lecture recordings and assessment activities. All students, regardless of their location or mode of study, need to have access to and be able to use computing devices with browsing capability and a connection to the Internet via Broadband (Cable, ADSL or Mobile) or Wireless. The Internet connection should be readily available and allow large amounts of data to be streamed or downloaded (approximately 100MB per lecture recording). Students also need to be able to enter into online discussions and submit assignments online.


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