Surrey University Stag


Module code: CHE2033

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 provider


Module Leader

SEARS Patrick (Chst Chm Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: F410

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 3

Independent Learning Hours: 91

Lecture Hours: 2

Seminar Hours: 20

Laboratory Hours: 6

Practical/Performance Hours: 6

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Trace chemical analysis

  • The forensic analysis of glasses, paints and soils


  • The chemistry of fire

  • Fire prevention and firefighting, & arson

  • Flash points, propagation, products

  • Recovery and examination of evidence


  • Nature and types of explosives and explosions

  • Explosives terminology – energetic compounds

  • Chemistry and thermochemistry of Explosives

  • Bomb scene investigation: Recovery of forensic samples

  • Forensic examination and identification of explosion residues

Firearm and Firearm evidence

  • Types of firearms, bullets and cartridges

  • Criminal offences involving firearms, the development of the UK gun control policy

  • Ballistics and reconstruction

  • Forensic information from firearms

  • Detection and analysis of gunshot residue

Introduction to drugs and Pharmacology

  • Legal and illicit drugs

  • Classification and scheduling of drugs and pharmaceutics

  • Pharmacokinetics

  • Instrumental methods in toxicology

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

Failure of Coursework Group exercise will require completion of a detailed written case study.

Assessment Strategy

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

Summative assessment

Three separate summative assessments will be completed to assess group working, forensic examination and the core content of the module.

Formative assessment

  • Test questions during exam tutorial and exercises during seminars


  • Feedback will be continually provided through the use of seminar questions.  Workshop feedback will be given 

Module aims

  • 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 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
1 Apply chemical, physical  and imaging techniques in the examination of physical forensic evidence CP
2 Understand the science involved in fires, explosions and the discharge of firearms and apply it in a subsequent forensic investigation KC
3 Appreciate safety aspects of dealing with energetic compounds and firearms, particularly in the context of forensic investigation K
4 Give an account of drugs and forensic toxicology K
5 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
6 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

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.

This module will be presented using flipped learning.  Lecture content will be provided by pre-recorded videos.  Classroom based seminars will be used to provide face to face contact, discuss application of study content and to consider how the identification, analysis and evaluation of evidence impacts on the investigation of crime.  Workshops will be used to enable group/teamworking.

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: CHE2033

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 MChem 2 Optional 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

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 2022/3 academic year.