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, body fluids and toxicology is dealt with in detail. Mass spectrometry is explored in detail as a major method for the analysis of many evidence types. 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

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

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: 114

Lecture Hours: 20

Seminar Hours: 8

Captured Content: 8

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 hamsters, seven daughters of Eve hypotheses

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

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

Mass spectrometry analysis of forensics evidence

  • Techniques in mass spectrometry, measurement, and presentation of mass spectrometry data.

Fingerprint Evidence

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

Forensic Toxicology

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

Body Fluid Analysis

  • ABO typing, 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 20
Examination Online ONLINE OPEN BOOK EXAM (4H) 80

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 – 4 hours online open book.

  • Coursework – A set of questions covering the application of the module content to realistic scenarios will be provided to students.

Formative assessment

Formative assessment will be provided during seminars and through a revision lecture.


Feedback will be provided from the coursework and from the formative assessment.  Example exam questions and answers will be provided. 

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 fingerprint development
  • ¿ To introduce the student to mass spectrometry techniques used to analyse samples for forensic evidence
  • ¿ To 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 KCP
002 - provide evidence of a detailed knowledge of the chemistry of body fluids and the value of evidence gathered from such specimens KPT
003 - critically evaluate the value of evidence gathered from mass spectrometry KCT
004 - evaluate methods used to detect drugs and poisons and review the role played by forensic toxicology in forensic investigation KCT

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:

This course will include a range of teaching methods including:

  • Standard face to face lectures

  • Longer lecture/seminar sessions from guest speakers

  • Flipped learning; using seminars (exercises, questions, and recap) to support video content  providing a pedagogically robust learning experience.

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


Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
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 2022/3 academic year.