Chemical Skills For Forensic Scientists - PS381

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn and Spring 4 30 (15) DR E McCabe checkmark-circle


Laboratory safety: lectures on laboratory safety including safe handling of chemicals, electrical supplies, solvents and gases both within and outside fume cupboards, safe disposal of chemicals, CoSHH and risk assessment, accident prevention.

Laboratory skills: the completion of a set of experiments in a lab environment within the safety structure as laid out by lab risk assessments. To include: fundamental organic chemistry methodology, chemical handling, use of equipment (including calibration and accuracy), infra-red spectroscopy, analytical chemistry and titrations, colorimetry, gravimetric analysis, solvent extraction.

Data presentation methods: the correct and succinct planning and preparation of scientific reports, correct referencing, data manipulation and presentation, literature searches and library catalogues, academic integrity and referencing styles.

Periodic table and inorganic chemistry: Periodic trends in the periodic table: chemical properties, reactivity and compounds across periods 1 and 2, introduction to diagonal relationships; hydrogen and its compounds; Group 1 – the alkali metals, their compounds and reactivity; Group 2 – the alkaline earth metals, their compounds and reactivity; introduction to redox chemistry; the p-block: Group 13 elements, their properties and reactivity, the inert pair effect, the chemistry of boron; Group 14 elements, properties, compounds and reactivities, carbon and its allotropes; Group 15: the chemistry of the pnictogens, nitrogen, phosphorus and its allotropes; Group 16: the chemistry of the chalcogens; Group 17: the chemistry of the halogens; extension to MO and VSEPR theory; introduction to groups 12 and 18.
Molecular graphics: use of MarvinSketch to represent and draw chemical structures and calculate molecular properties, using J-mol and J-ice to present molecular and crystal structures graphically, use of HULIS software to calculate energy levels from Hückel theory.

Maths for physical scientists: basic mathematics and functions used in physical sciences, curve sketching and plotting simple functions, differentiation and integration, examples of physical science applications including chemical reaction rates.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

36 lectures, 36 hrs of laboratory sessions, 10 hrs terminal sessions.
This module is expected to occupy 300 total study hours, including 82 contact hours.


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

100% coursework.

Indicative reading

Burrows, Holman, Parsons, Pilling and Price, Chemistry3, Oxford University Press, 2009

  • Chang, Chemistry, McGraw-Hill, 1998

  • Monk, Mathematics for Chemistry, Oxford University Press, 2006
  • Saferstein, Criminalistics – an introduction to forensic science, Prentice Hall, 2001

  • Higher Education Academy Physical Sciences Center, Quantitative skills in Forensic Science:

  • Langford, Dean, Reed, Holmes, Weyers, and Jones, Practical skills in forensic science, Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2005.

  • Inorganic Chemistry, Shriver & Atkins, OUP 1999, ISBN: 978-019850331-8
  • Inorganic Chemistry, Housecroft & Sharpe, Prentice Hall 2001, ISBN: 978-058231080-3

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    Learning outcomes

    Specific learning outcomes:

  • The knowledge and skills base to allow progression to further studies in the areas of chemistry and forensic science, with a sense of enthusiasm for chemistry and its applications.
  • Acquired and developed key skills, concepts, theories and practice which underpin practical chemistry problem solving.
  • Acquired and developed necessary practical laboratory skills, problem-solving skills and work-related safety skills, including chemical handling, scientific data presentation and standard laboratory procedures.
  • Acquired skills in data presentation methods pertaining to scientific results dissemination.
  • The ability to recognise trends within groups and across periods of the periodic table and describe chemical and physical properties of elements within those groups.
  • Developed knowledge and skills in the identification of behavioural periodic and group trends of the elements.
  • The ability to explain, with the aid of diagrams and using software tools, typical structures of common compounds.
  • Developed numerical and mathematical skills, critical for the study of chemistry and forensic science.
    Generic learning outcomes:
  • Developed basic experimental and communication skills required for physical and forensic science.
  • Developed a transferable skills set including the use of information and communication technology.
  • Acquired knowledge and understanding of elementary practical physical chemistry.


    1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
    2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
    3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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