Module code: SOC2099

Module Overview

The purpose of this module is to give students a fundamental understanding of forensic analysis of crime scenes and evidence. The focus is on the principles of analytical science as they relate to specific evidence types, namely gunshot residue, explosives, drugs and toxicology, paint, and glass. Casework examples will be used to give students a broad understanding of how data is interpreted. This module demonstrates the application of relevant techniques to forensic casework.

Module provider


Module Leader

HALL Nathan (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 6

Independent Learning Hours: 100

Seminar Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes for this module includes:

  • Trace chemical analysis: the forensic analysis of glasses, paints, and soils

  • Fire: the chemistry of fire; fire prevention, firefighting, and arson; flash points, propagation, products; recovery and examination of evidence.

  • Explosions: 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
Practical based assessment Workshop Exercise 50
Coursework Forensic Technique Review 50

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:

  • Forensic workshop (50%). Students will take part in a workshop exercise examining the evidence in a realistic case. In groups, students will guide the investigation, and determine what information should be requested from the crime laboratory. Peer assessment of their roles in the case will contribute half the marks of this assessment with the other half arising from a statement prepared on the basis of the evidence reviewed. To further enhance the authenticity of this assessment, the crime scene space will be utilised.

  • Coursework: Forensic technique review (50%). Students will review an academic paper from recent literature considering a forensic technique relevant to the course within the context of a specified scenario.


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 assessments therefore contain valuable employability components and test a range of transferable skills.

The assessment strategy also allows for assessment to take place in a supportive context through collaborative work that is, in part, peer assessed, and that can be applied to assessments in other modules. Such an 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.

Away from peer assessment, other elements of the assessment strategy allow students to test their performance in relation to ‘real-life’ scenarios and authentic documentation production, and in the case of the second assessment artefact, to critically engage with the latest academic knowledge in relation to the subject area.

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 where students have the opportunity to 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. The overriding aim of both formative and summative assessment and feedback is to support students in developing skills relating to the University’s Curriculum Framework themes (below) by providing constructive and reflective learning opportunities to help students to understand their strengths, and where and how they might improve, both specifically in relation to the module, but also more broadly in the context of their wider degree programme.


Module aims

  • Introduce students to theories and techniques of forensic analysis
  • Explain the chemistry underlying the use of physical evidence
  • Give an understanding of the physical methods used in characterising such evidence
  • Introduce students to the underlying science, safety and forensic aspects of fire, explosions, and firearms
  • Introduce the chemistry of drugs and poisons, and their detection
  • Outline the forensic toxicology of the above areas
  • Develop team working in approaching a forensic investigation

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Understand how chemical, physical and imaging techniques are applied in the analysis of physical forensic evidence (through class discussions and module assessment) CP
002 Understand the science involved in fires, explosions and the discharge of firearms and apply it in a subsequent forensic investigation (through class discussions and module assessment) CK
003 Appreciate safety aspects of dealing with energetic compounds and firearms, particularly in the context of forensic investigation (through class discussions and module assessment) K
004 Give an account of drugs and forensic toxicology (through class discussions and module assessment) K
005 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 use (through class discussions and module assessment) CK
006 Approach the solution of multi-faceted forensic problems as an individual or as a member of a team, thereby further developing resourcefulness and resilience (through the module assessment) 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:


  • Enable students to develop knowledge, skills, and critical thinking in relation to forensic analysis and physical evidence and its chemical analysis. through lectures, seminars, casework examples, videos, active learning/discussion sessions, and online resources.

  • Allow students to work individually and collectively to achieve investigative outcomes that mirror those common in real world forensic investigation scenarios, building upon skills acquired in previous modules.

  • To maximise learning by encouraging students to be actively engaged in decision-making, negotiation, evaluation of information, and the application of theory to practice, to address challenges and solve problems faced by practitioners.

Students will learn the principles of forensic analysis in relation to the investigation of a range of significant crime areas. They will learn how forensic analysis ‘fits’ within the wider crime investigation process, examine the role and work of the crime laboratory, and explore the processes of forensic analysis. This will both build upon their learning in previous modules (in particular Fundamentals of Forensic Science for Social Sciences, Forensic Criminology, and Criminal Investigation: practice and application) and help to prepare them for later modules (in particular, Major Crime Management and Investigation and Topics in Forensic Science) 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 this, learning and teaching methods will include lectures, seminars, casework examples, videos, active learning/discussion sessions, and online resources. 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. The seminars will provide students with the opportunity to be active participants in their learning experience by undertaking interactive exercises and group discussions, demonstrating their acquired understanding and knowledge, critical thinking, and communication skills.

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: SOC2099

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 areas:

Employability: this module allows students to both understand, and actively participate in, a range of principles and processes used within forensic analysis. Coupled with the development of critical thinking, reasoning, decision-making, collaboration, leadership, and other transferable skills, the module allows students to acquire and practice 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 forensic analysis is integrated into the wider context of crime investigation.

Resourcefulness and Resilience: The assessment strategy, and indeed the in-class preparation that precedes it, is designed to challenge and stretch student capabilities. It is also one where students are experiencing the roles and perspectives of investigator and analyst individually and collectively as a cohort, and latterly in smaller groups for their first assessment. Students will therefore need to develop resourcefulness, be able to share ideas and experiences both individually and collectively, appreciate potential barriers and challenges faced by others, and provide support and show empathy towards each other in working towards achieving successful outcomes and responding to problem-based task requirements.

Digital Capabilities: Students will continue developing their digital capabilities through the use of SurreyLearn, where they will continue to navigate and utilise the VLE for multiple aspects of the module online provision. Students will also utilise Microsoft Teams as a means of communication and collaboration and engage with other online platforms and databases. In addition, both assessments will require interaction with different digital capabilities. The first assessment will require the digital collation of information, whilst the second will require engagement with online literature databases.

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 2025/6 academic year.