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CSARM Modules C and D: Assessment of Contaminants of Concern (online)

The harm posed by contaminants of concern (COCs) to humans and other biota requires an understanding of their properties, behaviour in various media and their toxicities. This module addresses these issues, as well as the interpretation of laboratory analyses and human toxicological results that underpin the risk assessment of harm.

About this course

This course is one of five modules that comprise our CSARM short course program at UTS.

The presenters in this module are experts in the field of CSARM. Each will contribute up-to-date information in their area of expertise to the overall theme of how properties of COCs in contaminated sites that can result in risk of harm. Your teaching team will include specialists in risk assessments, contaminated site auditors, laboratory managers and professionals in allied disciplines. 

You can expect to gain new skills and up-to-date information on topics, such as:

  • The regulatory drivers for investigating contamination
  • The major groups of COCs, their properties and behaviours in a range of media, their persistence, toxicity and transformations
  • The roles of human health and environmental toxicology in site assessment and remediation and the methodology underpinning risk assessment evaluations
  • The influence of the chemistry of COCs and the media on reliability of analytical methods and sampling procedures.

Class and expert panel discussions will expand the scope of the material covered in the lectures, as will the opportunities to share experiences among other participants.

Course structure

To prepare for this module, you will need to read the outlines of the lectures and the essential background material well before the scheduled online classes. You will be able to access these outlines and materials online using the teaching and learning platform, Canvas, approximately two weeks prior to the commencement of the module. Your lecturers will assume your familiarity with this prescribed reading.

This preparation will familiarise you with the legislative and regulatory framework that underpins CSARM, as well as other documents of specific relevance to the topic of this module. It will allow you to fully participate in discussions during the online presentations. Prior to starting the module, you may be asked to complete short online quizzes.

A manual containing lecture material will be posted to you in the week prior to commencement of the course. Invitations to Zoom sessions will be uploaded on the Canvas site.

During the three days of the online course, which will be presented on Zoom, there will typically be 4 x 90-minute sessions per day, usually with different presenters at each session. Between lectures, there will be tea and lunch breaks, as well as some short social mixer sessions which will allow you to get to know other participants in small groups.

The online sessions are designed to be interactive so you will have the opportunity to ask questions as issues arise in the presentations – the Zoom platform is an excellent vehicle for effecting this. If you have further questions after the module, you can contact the presenters via email.

Through your preliminary readings, and live lectures, workshops and panel discussions you will understand the factors affecting the fate and transport of COCs and the evaluation of risk of harm, as well as the relevance of the regulatory framework which applies in real situations. You will learn about:

  • The regulatory drivers that require investigation of contamination
  • Major groups of COCs, their behaviour in a range of media, their persistence and transformations in soils, groundwaters and sediments
  • Impacts of emerging COCs and current progress in our understanding about these issues
  • Elements of human and ecological toxicology that underpin risk assessment processes
  • Importance of understanding the results of environmental and toxicity analyses
  • Sampling quality issues that impact effective site assessment and evaluation of results.

Numerous case studies, workshops and discussions with practitioners will demonstrate to you the significance of how chemistry and behaviour of COCs in various media underpins investigations of risk of harm in CSARM.

You will also benefit from opportunities to network with experts and other participants, as well as gain continuing professional development credits.

On completion of the module, you will receive a certificate of attendance; you will need to be present at all sessions to gain this. There is also an optional post-module assignment (no fee) based on the topics covered in the module, and if you complete this, you will gain a certificate of completion.

Successful completion of this assessment may entitle you to recognition of prior learning should you subsequently successfully enrol in an eligible MSc coursework degree. The completed course and assessment may align with a 3-credit point elective subject.

Learning outcomes

By completion of the course, you will have gained an understanding of:

  • The influence of COC chemistry on likely risk of harm to all biota
  • The effects of media on COC chemistry and toxicity
  • The application of risk-of-harm calculations in site assessment
  • The importance of correct interpretation of laboratory results in determining impacts of COCs at a site.


Participant requirements and equipment

To complete this online course, you will need a personal computer with reliable internet access and the ability to run the latest versions of compatible web browser, for online Zoom sessions and for access to the teaching platform, Canvas (eg. Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari).

  • Please make sure you have the latest version of Zoom on your device
  • Please note that you will need to be present at all sessions to gain the certificate of attendance


Additional information

Attendance at this course

Satisfactory completion of optional assignment based on the content of this module will gain a certificate of completion which may entitle you to recognition of prior learning should you subsequently successfully enrol in an eligible MSc coursework degree.


Full price: $2000 GST free 

Discount codes are available for the following:

  • 9% discount off full price automatically applied at checkout for early bird enrolments up until 28 April 2021: $1820
  • 13% discount off full price for group enrolments (more than one participant from an organisation): $1740
  • 13% discount off full price for enrolling in multiple modules: $1740
  • 13% discount off full price for UTS Alumni or a member of approved professional association (eg AGLA, ACLCA, EIANZ, Engineers Australia, Soils Science Australia, status to be approved by Alex Pulkownik): $1740

If you are eligible for any of the discounts above, you will need to obtain a discount code BEFORE you sign up to this course.

Please email  with your UTS alumni, professional assosciation number or provide details of your group enrolment. Once verified, you will be supplied with a voucher code to apply to your cart.

Please note that discounts cannot be combined. A limit of one discount applies per person per course session.

Who is this course for?

This course is suitable for:

  • A professional already working in the contaminated site area, such as environmental scientist, engineer, a manager, a consultant, or a local government officer
  • Someone who aspires to gain certification as a consultant or a site auditor as part of your career development, or just to get to the higher level in your workplace
  • A professional working in an area allied to contaminated sites, such as in local or federal government, or even in an entirely unrelated are, wishing to change your career direction to CSARM.

By doing this course, you will be immersed in the latest developments in CSARM and will be able to acquire new skills and/or upgrade your current ones.         




12 May




3 days

Lead academic

Dr Alex Pulkownik

Dr Alex Pulkownik
CSARM Short Course Coordinator

Alex has a BSc with chemistry and biochemistry majors, MSc in microbial enzymology and a PhD in the ecotoxicology of metals in estuarine plants. She has been involved in a range of research projects and research consultancies in estuarine plant ecology and plant ecotoxicology and has supervised and co-supervised numerous senior undergraduate and postgraduate and Honours research projects, Masters by research and PhD students.

Alex has coordinated CSARM short courses since 2009. She has also been a member of NSW Site Auditors Accreditation Panel and has sat on a couple of sub-committees of NSW Environmental Trust. She was an Associate Editor of Australian Journal of Ecotoxicology for 15 years until 2019.

Alex has extensive experience in tertiary teaching, curriculum development and introduction of new courses; she has held course directorships in Life Sciences at UTS as well as having taught numerous environmental science subjects.

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Book a session

Wed 12 May 2021 -
Fri 14 May 2021
Expert: Dr Alex Pulkownik
  • Online
  • Online
  • 3 sessions, 25 hours total
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