Module code: CHE3055

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to give students a detailed knowledge of specific topics within forensic investigation. In this final year module, the implications of DNA, fingerprints, toxicology, body fluids and forensic toxicology evidence are dealt with in the context of a forensic investigation. Casework examples are used to give students a broad understanding of how data is interpreted. This module demonstrates the application of relevant techniques to forensic casework and how evidence of these types is presented within the criminal justice system.


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

  • CHE3055 (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 6

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 83

Lecture Hours: 12

Seminar Hours: 18

Guided Learning: 15

Captured Content: 22

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 allow students to demonstrate that they have successfully met the learning outcomes of the module.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • DNA Course work (20%): Students will complete a proforma assessment based on a range of scenarios where the analysis of DNA is the critical to the case.  This coursework will provide students with the opportunity to develop their understanding of how DNA evidence can contribute to a forensic investigation.

  • Examination: 4h online open book exam (80%). Students will complete an examination covering the full range of material discussed in lectures and seminars.  The examination will be designed to test their application of the material presented.

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 upon learning (and feedback) acquired in previous modules and the assessments contain valuable employability components and test a range of transferable skills. All aspects of the assessment strategy 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 and to receive both 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

  • To demonstrate understanding of the scale, scope and application of DNA analysis within the criminal justice system
  • To examine the scope and background of forensic and toxicological investigation using body fluids and other biological material
  • To introduce the student to mass spectrometry techniques used to analyse samples for forensic evidence
  • To give a detailed account of the approaches to fingerprint / fingermark development

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Evaluate methods used to detect drugs and poisons and review the role played by forensic toxicology in forensic investigation KCT
002 Provide evidence of knowledge of the chemistry of body fluids and the value of evidence gathered from such specimens KP
003 Demonstrate the application, advantages, and limitations of DNA evidence within a criminal investigation KCT
004 Give a detailed account of the interaction between fingerprints, reagents, substrates and the environment KCP
005 Critically evaluate the value of evidence gathered from mass spectrometry 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 a critical understanding of current forensic evidence practices as they apply to crime investigation.

  • Provide students with a detailed understanding of, and a critical appreciation for, biological evidence and its analysis.

  • Maximise student learning by engaging students with different learning backgrounds and maximising their learning by drawing on their own experiences and contributions to group discussions.

Students will learn about a range of contemporary forensic science topics and how they apply to crime investigation. In doing so, students will learn how and why different forms of evidence are utilised, and how these fit within the wider context of criminal investigation practices. Students will also be able to integrate their learning from previous modules, for example those relating to forensics and analytical chemistry, thereby ensuring coherency and consistency in the student journey. 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 in the crime scene space, flipped learning with seminars to support the video content, with exercises, questions, and recap to provide a robust learning experience.

Collectively, this 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. Ongoing feedback opportunities from staff and peers will be variously present in seminars and tutorials, and online.

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

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 develop their understanding of the latest topics within forensic science, as they apply to crime investigation. Given that this is the final ‘forensic-specific’ module of the programme, students will leave in possession of the latest and best available information relating to their subject area, a proportion of which will have been delivered by external speakers, giving students direct access to professionals currently working in the field and thereby supporting their future career planning for roles in forensic investigation. This will hold clear benefits in relation to their employability as they approach the end of their degree. Coupled with the development of critical thinking, reasoning, decision-making, collaboration, self-reflection and evaluation, the ability to evaluate established evidential techniques, and other transferable skills, the module allows students to further practice wider attributes that will be attractive to employers in this field. The focus of the assessment strategy will help to prepare students for the realities of the world of work because it allows them to be familiar with how different types of forensic evidence are utilised into the wider context of crime investigation, and to conduct their own review of previous professional practice.

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

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.