Analytical & Forensic Chemistry - CHE00015H

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  • Department: Chemistry
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kirsty Penkman
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19
    • See module specification for other years: 2017-18

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2018-19 to Summer Term 2018-19

Module aims

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, drugs and environmental contamination. 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, environmental 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.

Module learning outcomes

On completion of this module students will be able to:

  • Appreciate the breadth and diversity of analytical science.
  • Select appropriate methods for specific questions, by understanding how molecules interact with each other and their environment.
  • Recognise the importance of QA in analytical laboratories.

Module content

Multidimensional chromatography with mass selective detection

  • 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.



5 lectures

1 workshop

Forensics and the environment

  • Background, scope and legislative context
  • Determining the sources of hydrocarbon pollution
  • Pesticides in foodstuffs and the watercourse
  • Stable isotopes as probes of source and geographical origins
  • Quality assurance (QA), contamination & quantification issues


7 lectures

1 workshop

Applications to forensic science

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


5 lectures

1 workshop

New Directions in Analytical & Forensic Chemistry

Two external lecturers provide examples of real-world applications to forensics, drugs in sport, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Previous speakers have included analysts from AstraZeneca, Reckitt Benckiser, the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory, YorkTest laboratories, ELScience and BioArCh.

Guest lecturers

2 lectures


Prerequisites: Core Modules 1 – 6 (extra support given to biochemists)

Workshops: (6 h in total) Multidimensional chromatography and MS (LJC, 2h). Forensics and the environment (BJK & KEHP; 2h); Applications to forensic science (JFH; 2h)

Assessment: 1.5 h written paper (Weeks 5-7, Term 9) (70%) plus assessment of JFH's workshop (30%).


Task Length % of module mark
Continuous Assessment
N/A 30
University - closed examination
Analytical and Forensic Chemistry
1.5 hours 70

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
University - closed examination
Analytical and Forensic Chemistry
1.5 hours 70

Module feedback

Individual feedback on performance on the continuous assessment is provided within 4 weeks, as per university guidelines. The closed examinations are marked typically within 10 days with mark slips (with per-question break-down) being returned to students via supervisors. Outline answers are made available via the Chemistry web pages when the students receive their marks, so that they can assess their own detailed progress/achievement. The examiners reports for each question are made available to the students via the Chemistry web pages.

Indicative reading

Reading lists will be provided by the module tutors

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.