Module code: CHE3051

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to give students a detailed knowledge of forensic chemistry. In this third year module, the chemistry relating to DNA, fingerprints, toxicology and forensic archaeology is dealt with in detail. 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 provider


Module Leader

SEARS Patrick (Chemistry)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Lecture Hours: 21

Seminar Hours: 6

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

DNA analysis

  • Structure, base pairs, the genetic code, RNA, cell biology, mitochondrial DNA, chromosomes, sexual reproduction

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), likelihood ratios

  • CODIS and NDNAD databases, ethical considerations

  • The Colin Pitchfork case, possible surviving relatives of the Tsar, Syrian hameters, seven daughters of Eve hypotheses

  • Saliva, salivary amylase, RSID antibody test, whose saliva?

  • Semen, acid phosphotase, microscopic confirmation, whose semen?


Forensic Archaeology

  • Skeletal remains, isotopic analysis, pottery and ceramics, metallurgy, fabrics and textiles, CT- a copper age murder mystery – Otzi the iceman; Tutankhamun and related cases studies


Fingerprint Evidence

  • Chemistry of fingerprints, interaction with developers, substrate and environment, new types of development, case studies


Forensic Toxicology

  • Posions and routes through the body, Toxic dose, sampling, toxicology of alcohol.Road traffic offenses, other intoxicant,s drug facilitated offences, case studies


Body Fluid Analysis

  • ABO typiing, Rhesus factor, blood collection and analysis, presumptive tests for blood, faceal and urine analysis

  • Blood spatter evidence



Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework DNA Coursework 30
Examination EXAMINATION (1.5 HOURS) 70

Alternative Assessment

Not available.

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

  • DNA Coursework

Formative assessment

Test questions during exam tutorial



Discussion sessions; practice exam questions

Module aims

  • To examine the scope and background of forensic investigation of body fluids and other biological material.
  • To give a detailed account of techniques used in advanced biomedical analysis.
  • To introduce the student to techniques used to identify historical artefacts and materials.
  • To outline the scope of forensic toxicology.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Give a critical account of the theory and practice of various techniques used in a biomedical laboratory
002 Provide evidence of a detailed knowledge of the chemistry of body fluids and the value of evidence gathered from such specimens
003 Critically evaluate the value of evidence gathered from archaeological sites
004 Evaluate methods used to detect drugs and poisons and review the role played by forensic toxicology in forensic investigation

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Provide students with an up to date understanding of current forensic chemistry practices by seminars given by expert guest lecturers

Provide students with a detailed understanding of and a critical appreciation for biological evidence and its chemical analysis through lectures, casework examples, videos and discussions.

The learning and teaching methods include

  • Lectures (22 total)

  • Seminar (6 hours)

  • Exam tutorial

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: CHE3051

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemistry BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) 1 Compulsory 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 2019/0 academic year.