Accessibility statement

Analytical & Forensic Chemistry - CHE00035M

« Back to module search

  • Department: Chemistry
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Kirsty Penkman
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

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 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, 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

  • 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 (LJC, 5 lectures, 1 x 2h unassessed 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 (BJK & KEHP, 7 lectures, 1 x 2h unassessed 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; Quality assurance (QA), contamination & quantification issues.

Applications to forensic science (JFH, 5 lectures, 1 x 3h assessed 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 (Guest lecturers, 2 lectures)

Three 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, GSK and BioArCh.


Task Length % of module mark
Assessed Workshop
N/A 30
University - closed examination
Analytical & Forensic Chemistry
N/A 70

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative assessment: through workshops for LJC & BJK/KEHP's courses.

The continuous assessment for AF, worth 30% of the total module marks, is based on the “Applications to Forensic Science” workshops, although builds on all the material in your course.

The workshops are in Week 2 of the Summer term. The group is split into two workshops - your personal timetable has the information on which one you should go to.

The workshop involves developing strategies to collect and handle evidence. The assessment itself is in the form of an expert witness statement including data analysis and interpretation of evidence. You will have two weeks to complete this. The deadline for handing in the witness statement is 12.00 on Friday Week 4 Summer term.

The exam accounts for 70% of the total module marks, and is based on LJC & BJK/KEHP's courses through 2 compulsory 20 mark questions in the Summer Common Assessment Period.


Task Length % of module mark
Assessed Workshop
N/A 30
University - closed examination
Analytical & Forensic Chemistry
N/A 70

Module feedback

Written and/or oral feedback for workshops will be given either during the sessions or within 20 working days.

Closed exam results with per-question breakdown are returned to the students via supervisors within 5 weeks (as per special approval by the University Teaching Committee). 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

This is a research-led course so up-to-date scientific publications will form the majority of the reading.

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.