Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


This unit examines the relationship between plants and forensic science. The comparison of botanical evidence from control and evidentiary material can prove or disprove a relationship between a suspect, victim, localities, and persons and objects of interest. Botanical evidence can also indicate the origin and travel history of drugs, imported goods and other items. The unit comprises sections on forensic palynology, environmental profiling, and chemical aspects of forensic botany. Forensic palynology is the comparison of pollen, spores and other microscopic plant material from control and evidentiary samples. This section includes an introduction to palynology and its applications, the biological role and dispersal of pollen and spores, pollen analysis, forensic pollen traps, sample preparation, and palynological crime scene procedures, illustrated with case histories. Plant cuticle and the identification of plants and their environmental ranges are also covered. This leads to an introduction to environmental profiling—the reconstruction of environments by interpreting the presence of certain plant and animal proxy indicators, or fragments of them. The chemical aspect of forensic botany examines the use of plants as poisons and drugs (many illicit drugs are of plant origin), their molecular comparison, and plant trace evidence and DNA, illustrated by case histories.

6 points

Students are able to (1) critically assess the value of botanical evidence in a particular case and (2) collect and store control and evidentiary samples and critically appraise reports that include botanical evidence.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) laboratory exercises (50 per cent) and (2) a written assignment (50 per cent). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Daniel Franklin
Unit rules
enrolment in
the Graduate Diploma in Forensic Science (50320)
or Master of Forensic Science (51520)
enrolment in
the Graduate Diploma in Forensic Science (Anthropology program) (50320)
or the Master of Forensic Science (Anthropology program) (51520)
Contact hours
25 hours
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.