Forensic Chemistry

Queensland University of Technology

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Forensic Chemistry

  • Host University

    Queensland University of Technology

  • Location

    Brisbane, Australia

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credit Points

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    3 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    4 - 6
  • Overview

    Forensic Chemistry is a special field of chemistry dedicated to the analysis of matter and substances that may have been used in unlawful activities, abused or caused harm to individuals or the public. A forensic chemist is a professional chemist who analyzes evidence that is brought in from crime scenes and reaches a conclusion based on tests run on that piece of evidence. In the Forensic Chemistry unit, students will gain expertise in all the major branches of chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical and especially analytical) as related to forensic investigations. The analytical aspect of the course has been broadened from a more traditional chemistry focus to include modern and special types of analysis of importance to forensic science.

    Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this unit you will: 
    1. Be able to demonstrate the chromatographic and spectrometric analytical techniques (Isotope ratio mass spectroscopy, gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, Raman and infrared spectroscopy) that are used in forensic chemical analysis. 
    2. Be able to demonstrate the molecular structures and reactivity of a wide range of drugs of abuse, performance enhancing drugs, hazardous and toxic substances as well as explosives precursors that may be involved in unlawful activity. 
    3. Be able to design analytical protocols and select appropriate analytical techniques for the identification, profiling and quantification of illicit and hazardous substance. 
    4. Be able to apply critical thinking and problem solving skills to a range of forensic analyses.
    5. Be able to identify the considerations and techniques required to extract and identify trace amounts of forensic chemical evidence. 
    6. Be able to interpret, present and draw logical conclusions from analytical results.


    1. An overview of the analytical methods commonly applied to the forensic analysis of drugs, poisons and some physical evidence. Methods will include chromatography, spectrometry and vibrational spectroscopy. 
    2. An introduction to reaction mechanisms and routs commonly used in the clandestine laboratories for the organic synthesis of illicit substances 
    3. A theoretical and practical overview of the microscopy techniques and skills required for physical evidence examinations. This involves the theory and applications of optical and electron microscopy in forensic science, instrumentation for microscopy, specimen preparation for electron microscopy, principles of x-ray microanalysis and electron energy loss spectroscopy. 
    4. The molecular structures and chemical properties of a range of forensic samples including drugs of abuse.
    5. Analysis and characterisation of oil spills as physical evidence in marine pollution. The principals of sample preparation and procedures to avoid contamination will be highlighted.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.