Module code: CHE2033

Module provider


Module Leader

BAILEY MJ Dr (Chemistry)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 5

JACs code


Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 3

Independent Study Hours: 102

Lecture Hours: 29

Laboratory Hours: 6

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination EXAM - 1.5 HOURS 60

Alternative Assessment

No alternative to Examination Failure of Coursework Group exercise will require completion of a detailed written case study.

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

The purpose of this module is to give students a fundamental understanding of forensic chemistry.  In this second year module, we focus on the chemistry relating to specific evidence types, namely gunshot residue, explosives, drugs and toxicology, paint and glass.  Casework examples are used to give students a broad understanding of how data is interpreted.  This module interacts with material that students are taught through analytical chemistry modules and demonstrates the application of relevant techniques to forensic casework. 


Module aims

To consider the historic development of forensic chemistry and its linkage to advances in analytical technique

To introduce the chemistry underlying the use of physical evidence

To give an understanding of the physical methods used in characterising such evidence

To introduce students to the underlying science, safety and forensic aspects of fire, explosions and firearms

To consider the information available from forensic computing and photography

To introduce the chemistry of drugs and poisons, and their detection

To outline the forensic toxicology of the above areas

To develop team working in approaching a forensic investigation

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Apply chemical, physical  and imaging techniques in the examination of physical forensic evidence CP
Understand the science involved in fires, explosions and the discharge of firearms and apply it in a subsequent forensic investigation KC
Appreciate safety aspects of dealing with energetic compounds and firearms, particularly in the context of forensic investigation K
Give an account of drugs and forensic toxicology K
Discuss the chemistry and methods of detection of selected drugs and poisons, and appreciate the role played by forensic toxicology in the investigation of their illegal abuse KC
Approach the solution of multi-faceted forensic problems as an individual or as a member of a team. CPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:


The historical development of analytical techniques for torensic chemistry (e.g. as detection and quantification), the death of Napoleon

The chemistry of glasses and paints



The chemistry of fire, fire prevention and fire fighting, arson

Flash points, propagation, products

Recovery and examination of evidence



Nature and types of explosives and explosions

Explosives terminology – energetic compounds

Forensic examination in explosions

Recovery and identifiction of explosion residues


Firearm and Firearm evidence

Forensic examination of firearms, bullets and cartridges


Introduction to drugs and Pharmacology

Pharmacokinetics, drug action, instrumental methods in toxicology



Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Provide students with hands on experience of current forensic chemistry methods by practical sessions and workshops

Provide students with an understanding of physical evidence and its chemical analysis through lectures, casework examples, videos and discussions.

The learning and teaching methods include:

Workshops (3 x 1 hour sessions)

Laboratory sessions (2 x 1 day sessions)

Lectures (33 total)

Exam tutorial

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate

The assessment strategy is designed to assess whether students meet the learning outcomes of the module.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

Examination – 1.5 hours
Laboratory write up
Coursework write up – approximately 2,000 words


Formative assessment

Test questions during exam tutorial



Laboratory scripts marked and returned during the semester; discussion sessions; practise exam questions

Reading list

Reading list for FORENSIC CHEMISTRY :

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemistry BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation MChem 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry MChem 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.