Module Overview


An overview of the basic concepts in forensic science and the essential steps of the forensic process are provided. The module introduces students to forensic analysis techniques of a range of evidence types. Approaches to analysis and case studies are provided. Students complete a forensic case-study to incorporate the analytical techniques in context.

Module Code

CHEM 2012

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Section A
Introduction to Forensic Analysis and techniques. Trace and contact evidence, databases, case studies.
Analysis of illicit drugs. The application of spectroscopic methods (UV, IR) for the analysis of trace evidence.
Glass and the composition of different types of glass. Theory and practice of glass refractive index measurement (GRIM) and using a GRIM instrument to measure the RI.
Fingerprints, including classification and identification and methods of latent print development. Chemical development of fingerprints on a variety of surfaces.
Forensic analysis of footwear impression evidence.

Section B
Overview of methods of collection of evidence for different evidence types and the concept of contamination of forensic samples.

Introduction to fibres – natural and synthetic. Definitions of a range of common synthetic fibres found in textiles. Composition of fibre dyes. Hair, including characteristics of hair, examination of hair using light microscopy and its use as trace evidence.
Common and rare fibre types and the significance of this information in the context of forensic evidence
Theory of light microscopy and the application to forensic chemistry. The concept of polarised light microscopy, plane polarised light, crossed polarised light is introduced. Introduction to FTIR microscopy and the application to fibres.
Classification of controlled substances. Presumptive tests used for controlled substances (chemical spot testing and TLC).
Theory of chromatography and thin layer chromatography (TLC). Examples of how TLC and GC are used for a variety of trace evidence e.g. fibre dyes, inks and drugs.
Forensic analysis of documents.

The laboratory work will consist of a case study using a range of forensic and analytical techniques will be carried out over five weeks. A wide range of trace evidence will be analysed including fibres, hair, drugs, inks, glass and fingerprints

The module is delivered through a series of lectures (24 hours),  laboratory practical classes (15 hours) and self-study (61 hours).

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Other Assessment(s)100