Module code: CHE1039

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to give students a fundamental understanding of the conceptual frameworks underpinning forensic science. In this first-year module a very wide array of evidence types are covered. Casework examples are used to give students a broad understanding of how forensic evidence is retrieved, packaged, analysed and reported in court. This module interacts with material that students are taught through analytical chemistry modules and demonstrates the application of relevant techniques to forensic casework.

This module supports further learning across all chemistry programmes it features in. Particular relevance can be found in the following modules.

  • CHE1044 (General principles of analytical chemistry)

  • CHE2035, CHEM038, CHE3066 (analytical problem solving, instrumental techniques)

  • CHE3055, CHEM034 (Forensic toxicology, forensic investigation)

  • CHEM037, CHE3062 (principles of pharmacokinetics, drug processes, schedules)

Module provider

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Module Leader

SEARS Patrick (Chst Chm Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 64

Lecture Hours: 3

Seminar Hours: 20

Laboratory Hours: 16

Guided Learning: 25

Captured Content: 22

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative module content includes:

  • What is forensic science? Locard’s Principle; The nature of forensic evidence, forensic science categories. The history of forensic science and its place in modern society. When is forensic science needed?

  • Providers of forensic science: LGC, DSTL, independent practitioners

  • Introduction to the law; types of offences, CPS, types of course, statements and presentation of forensic evidence

  • Crime scene investigation, the nature of a crime scene, zoning and crime scene management, collection protection and documenting of evidence

  • Trace and contact evidence. Direct and circumstantial evidence, physical and biological evidence

  • Fingerprint evidence

  • General examination methods (blood, firearms, explosives)

  • Document, ink and handwriting examination,

  • Post-mortem interval and identification of human remains,

  • Introduction to forensic pathology

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Laboratory write up 10
Coursework CSI Field day group work 15
Examination Examination: MCQ exam (1.5 hours) 75

Alternative Assessment

Students unable to attend the CSI day will be provided a worksheet based on the practical completed by other students.  Students unable to attend the laboratory sessions will be provided with an alternative exercise based on the same scientific concepts.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to demonstrate that they have successfully met the learning outcomes of the module.

The summative assessment for this module consists of:

•    Laboratory write up (10%):  This pro-forma based write up will demonstrate how a forensic investigator is required to keep notes in a practical environment.
•    CSI group write-up (15%): The group write-up will allow students to collaborate to complete two aspects of a forensic investigation.  The first will present students with an unknown situation requiring them to follow an established procedure to complete the investigation of the scene.  The second will get them to work together to analyse the materials found at the scene back in the laboratory.
•    Examination: MCQ (75%). Students will complete an MCQ  assessment under exam conditions covering the full range of material discussed in lectures and seminars.  

Why are we doing this?

The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to develop and test their knowledge and their skills in a manner that not only enhances their understanding of the topic, but also allows them to situate it within the wider context of the subject area, thereby contributing to the coherency of their learning journey. The module therefore builds transferrable skills and the assessments are designed to complement this. The assessment strategy also allows for individual assessment and group assessment and both open and closed book scenarios.  This approach contributes to the development of students as independent learners by empowering them to self-evaluate, and reflect on, their own performance in relation to others. 

Elements of the assessment strategy allow students to test their performance in relation to ‘real-life’ crime investigation scenarios and authentic documentation production. This will allow students to understand, evaluate, and critically examine the use and application of different techniques by professional investigators, and to reflect on their learning in relation to investigative practices, evidence collection, and the requirements of criminal law. All aspects of the assessment strategy further allow students to receive feedback from expert staff.

Formative assessment

Informal formative assessment is conducted throughout the module during seminars and online where students engage in a variety of activities to receive peer and tutor feedback, with the aim of allowing students to assess their progress week by week.


Feedback and feedforward on summative assignments will be provided via SurreyLearn. This will indicate what students did well, less well, and what they need to do to improve in the future and will relate both to issues specific to the module and to transferable skills. Formative feedback will be provided throughout the module within in-class discussions and activities, and tutorials.

Module aims

  • introduce organisational and legal aspects of forensic science
  • examine laboratory methods associated with search and recovery of items of evidence
  • introduce policies, procedures and protocols associated with accreditation of laboratories and expert witnesses
  • introduce the use of chemical methods in forensic science

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate knowledge of organisational, accreditation and legal aspects of forensic chemistry KC
002 Demonstrate knowledge of the different forms of analysis applied to different forms of physical evidence KPT
003 Demonstrate knowledge of crime scene management and the recording of a crime scene KPT
004 Give an account of the potential utility of chemical methods in examination of forensic evidence KPT

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, workshops and the CSI days

  • Provide students with an understanding of the legal and organization aspects of forensic science, collection of evidence and presentation in court 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 workshops 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.

Furthermore, the learning and teaching strategy is designed to develop students’ confidence and competence in working with others, digital capabilities, leadership, teamwork, communication skills, employability, and professionalism.

To achieve the above, this module will include a range of teaching methods including standard face to face lectures, sessions from guest speakers. It will also include practical sessions, flipped learning with seminars to support video content, with exercises, questions, and recap to provide an immersive learning experience. Collectively, these methods will combine guided learning, independent learning, and self-reflection. The lectures will introduce and explain key concepts, theories, and core aspects of the practical application of the issues discussed. In order to build confidence and to engage students with diverse learning backgrounds, students will be encouraged to share their thoughts, ideas, and reflections, including those relating to their own experiences.


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: CHE1039

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework  is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following area:

Employability: This module allows students to start developing an understanding of forensic science, though crime investigation. Transferable skills will be addressed throughout the module with forensic science supporting analytical chemistry and vice versa. The use of realistic crime scenes within assessment strategy will introduce students to the potential challenges of the workplace and professional practice.

Resourcefulness and resilience:  Group work exercises will help students to develop their critical thinking, reasoning, decision-making, and collaboration skills. The use of realistic crime scenes will help students to understand the challenges of forensic investigation and allow innovative approaches (within the allowable context).

Digital skills: A range of challenges will be presented to students throughout the course to promote the development of digital skills.  Students will be required to produce a forensic report bringing together evidence from a range of sources which need to be coherent within a group report.  

Weekly lectures will presented in a flipped ‘digital’ format with weekly face to face classes building on that content through online quizzes, crime scene investigation exercises and other digital content.  

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
Chemistry BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry MChem 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation MChem 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 2023/4 academic year.