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CHEM306 Forensic Chemistry

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.

Paper title Forensic Chemistry
Paper code CHEM306
Subject Chemistry
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,059.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,627.65

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FORS 201 or 18 200-level CHEM points
Schedule C

Professor Russell D Frew
Tel 64 3 479 7913
Location: Mellor Laboratories, 1.19

Teaching staff
Course Co-ordinator: Professor Russell Frew
Professor Keith Gordon
Dr Alan Hayman
Paper 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 characterisatio
    • Physical character (fibres, polymers and colourants)
    • Spectroscopy (UV-Vis, IR, NMR, Raman)
  • Provenancing
    • Impurity profiling
    • Isotopic and elemental analysis
Teaching Arrangements
The lecture course is to support the laboratory course and will be a mixture of formal lectures providing theory, case studies and worked tutorial sessions.
Forensic Chemistry, Suzanne Bell, Pearson, Prentice Hall

Statistics and Chemometrics for Analytical Chemistry, Miller & Miller (6th Ed), Pearson

Fundamentals of Analytical Chemistry, Skoog et al (9th Ed), Wadsworth
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Communication, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
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

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
M1 Wednesday 10:00-10:50 28-34, 36-41
Thursday 10:00-10:50 28-34, 36-41
Friday 10:00-10:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
P1 Thursday 14:00-17:50 28-34, 36-41
P2 Friday 14:00-17:50 28-34, 36-41