Analytical and Forensic Chemistry


Analytical measurements are essential to everyday life, required to determine the composition and control the quality of many products, to protect the environment and to monitor health. Consequently Analytical Chemistry has a major impact, not only in chemistry, but also in fields such as biochemistry, and the forensic, food, environmental and pharmaceutical sciences. Forensic chemistry is the application of analytical chemistry to the law and involves the examination of physical traces, such as body fluids, bones, fibres and drugs. Success in analytical chemistry requires the ability to make rigorous measurements, an appreciation of the principles and practice of modern instrumentation, and a problem-solving approach. This course aims to develop these skills, with an emphasis on the use of coupled chromatography-mass spectrometry techniques, a powerful combination with applications in the analysis of complex mixtures relevant to forensic, atmospheric and biological systems. Workshops will give you experience of research instrumentation applied to real-life problems. External lecturers will provide examples of applications in relation to forensics, drugs in sport, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Learning objectives

  • to appreciate the breadth and diversity of analytical science
  • to be able to select appropriate methods for specific questions, by understanding how molecules interact with each other and their environment
  • to recognise the importance of QA in analytical laboratories
  • to understand the ways in which nitrogen can be introduced into molecules and apply these to unseen problems


Multidimensional Chromatography with Mass Selective Detection (5 lectures and 1 workshop)

General principles and environmental and forensic applications of linear and orthogonal chromatographic hyphenation (including GC-GC and LC-GC). Coupling chromatography to MS: experiment & theory. Advanced mass spectrometry for atmospheric chemistry.

Forensics and the Environment (7 lectures and 1 workshop)

Background, scope and legislative context. Determining the sources of hydrocarbon pollution. Pesticides in foodstuffs and the watercourse. Chemistry in the forensic examination of graves. Stable isotopes as probes of source and geographical origins. Sampling, quality assurance (QA), contamination & quantification issues.

Applications to Forensic Science (5 lectures and 1 workshop)

Locard’s principle, sampling collection and processing. Analysis and Profiling of Drugs of Abuse. Body fluid analysis – DNA profiling. Use of spectroscopy in forensics.

New Directions in Analytical & Forensic Chemistry (3 lectures)

Forensic Analysis of Hard Tissues. The Role of Analytical Chemistry. Metabonomics and Beyond: The Analytical Science of Global Metabolic Fingerprinting.


Chemistry Core Modules 1-7


A written paper (70%) plus continuous assessment (30%) – assessment of the three workshops