Module Overview

Forensic Toxicology and Fires

This module will provide a comprehensive understanding of the area of toxicology for forensic analysis. In addition the aim of this module is to provide an understanding of the processes of scene investigation and of methods employed in the analysis of material obtained from the scenes of fires

Module Code

CHEM 4010

ECTS Credits


*Curricular information is subject to change

Introduction and Historical Overview of Forensic Toxicology.
Review of specimens types used in Forensic Toxicology.
Drug Metabolism; Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Elimination. Including Pharmcokinetics and Pharmacodynamics, Phase 1 and 2 metabolism and Pharmacogenomics
Specimen preparation including Pre-treatment (filtration, centrifugation, sonication, dilution, protein precipitation, digestion and hydrolysis).
Specimen Extraction including liquid liquid extraction and solid phase extraction.
General Analysis including common screening techniques (TLC and immunoassay) and confirmatory techniques (GC-MSn and LC-MSn).
Drugs and Analysis including ethanol and other volatiles (CO, CN etc.), cannabis, benzodiazepines, opioids, amphetamines (including methamphetamine, MDA and MDMA), cocaine, new psychoactive substances (cathinones, piperazines, synthetic cannabinoids, Kratom and Salvia), poisonous plants (Yew, Foxglove, Castor Bean) and Metals (including Radioactive Isotopes)

Quality Control (Accreditation, ISO17025, Internal QC, External QC, Auditing and Non-Conformances).
Interpretation, Reporting and Expert Witness Testimony.
Case Studies including Harold Shipman, Shannon Matthews, Michael Jackson, Whitney Heuston, driving under the influence of alcohol case, driving under the influence of drugs case, drug facilitated sexual assault case, cocaine intoxication case.

Introduction to fires and fire investigation, fire scenes, spread, fuels and accelerants.
Fire and arson – occurrence and importance.
Dynamics and properties of burning materials.
Classification of Ignitable Liquids.
Sample Preparation used in analysing fire debris: steam distillation, solvent extraction, Headspace Vapours, Passive headspace absorption/elution, Dynamic headspace purge and trap, solid phase microextraction (SPME).
Sampling, analysis (GC), matrix effects, pyrolysis products. Interpretation of analytical results.
Contamination. Scene investigation.
Quality Assurance and Quality Control in Fire Debris analysis

The module will be delivered through lectures (20 h), tutorials ( 4 h) and laboratory session (8 hr)

Module Content & Assessment
Assessment Breakdown %
Formal Examination75
Other Assessment(s)25