Module code: CHE3055

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to give students a more detailed knowledge of aspects of forensic chemistry. 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 (Chst Chm Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 102

Lecture Hours: 9

Seminar Hours: 10

Tutorial Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 10

Captured Content: 13

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

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 offences, other intoxicants, drug facilitated offences, case studies

Body Fluid Analysis

- ABO typing, Rhesus factor, blood collection and analysis, presumptive tests for blood, faecal and urine analysis

- Blood spatter evidence

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework DNA COURSEWORK 35
Examination Online ONLINE OPEN BOOK EXAM 65

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

• Examination – 1.5 hours

• Coursework – DNA multi choice test

Formative assessment

Test questions during exam tutorial


Discussion sessions; practice exam questions

Module aims

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

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 - give a critical account of the theory and practise of various techniques used in a biomedical laboratory CKP
002 - provide evidence of a detailed knowledge of the chemistry of body fluids and the value of evidence gathered from such specimens CK
003 - critically evaluate the value of evidence gathered from archaeological sites CK
004 - evaluate methods used to detect drugs and poisons and review the role played by forensic toxicology in forensic investigation CK

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: CHE3055

Other information


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 2021/2 academic year.