Forensic Chemistry

University of Otago

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Forensic Chemistry

  • Host University

    University of Otago

  • Location

    Dunedin, New Zealand

  • Area of Study

    Chemistry, Forensic Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    FORS 201 or 18 (1 course) 200-level CHEM points

  • 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

    Application of modern chemical analysis to practical scientific and technical situations, with particular emphasis on producing evidence for use in the judicial system.

    This paper focuses on the application of modern analytical techniques used to support the legal system in providing forensic evidence. It also provides a sound analytical training and is recommended to all experimental chemists.Drawing strongly on examples from case studies, the paper provides the theoretical and practical framework for applying spectroscopic techniques for identification, quantification and fingerprinting of various materials, such as drugs, accelerants, environmental contaminants, materials and physical evidence. The emphasis of this paper is on the practical skills gained in the laboratory. The laboratory course is constructed to provide training in basic analytical chemistry before advancing to more sophisticated analytical techniques.

    Course Structure

    • Forensic Context
      • Legal context/expert witness
      • Crime scenes/evidence
      • Basic statistics
      • Quality control/quality assurance
      • Multivariate statistics
    • Separation Techniques
      • Partitioning, GC, HPLC, electrophoresis identification and characterisation
      • Physical character (fibres, polymers and colourants)
      • Spectroscopy (UV-Vis, IR, NMR, Raman)
    • Provenancing
      • Impurity profiling
      • Isotopic and elemental analysis

    Learning Outcomes
    Expectations at the end of the paper:
    - An understanding of how chemical knowledge is applied in support of the legal system
    - Mastery of the scientific concepts underlying the major analytical methods of chemical analysis as applied in forensic casework
    - A tested understanding of the application of these concepts to practical situations such as material analysis
    - Tested experience with the use and assessment of standard practical and experimental techniques
    - An understanding of how to obtain and validate high-quality data

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.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.