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Study Forensic Analytical Science at Otago

Solving mysteries, serving society

Your uniqueness isn’t limited to your DNA or your fingerprints. Forensic chemistry can pinpoint where you’ve lived, what you’ve eaten and even where that food once lived. That unarguable proof of origin is increasingly useful for food producers and biosecurity officers as well as crime fighters.

Analytical science is applied forensically in business for compliance with legislation, marketing, and the protection of products and brands from fraud.

This degree focuses on the vital analytical techniques of forensic biology (including DNA) and forensic chemistry (spectroscopy, traceability). These analytical skills are highly sought-after in industry, government agencies and among regulatory bodies tasked with managing natural resources.

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Why study Forensic Analytical Science?

The New Zealand kiwifruit is one of the most counterfeited items in the world. New Zealand's produce is often at the top end of the market, and well worth counterfeiting – if you can get away with it! The techniques you'll learn in this course can demonstrate the exact point of origin for foodstuffs. This protects our products abroad, and protects our growers at home as well by identifying the source of biosecurity risks when they hit our shores.

The techniques are applicable to criminal forensic work as well, and the analytical skills you will learn will have much broader applications across a wide range of scientific fields.

Career opportunities

Anyone involved with Resource Management Act needs staff who can understand analytical science. For example, in the management and custody of natural resources, the analytical techniques you'll learn in Forensic Analytical Science will help track down sources of contamination.

Traceability gives the edge in niche marketing for top-end products – now we can prove exactly where a product has come from, protecting it from counterfeiting and giving a market advantage.

Government agencies increasingly require people with this kind of analytical training. For example, Department of Conservation workers coming across questionable logging would be able to demonstrate whether timber had come from illegal sites.

Applicants should be aware that the job market in New Zealand for criminal forensic scientists is small and that this course is not a qualification for such a career without further study or employment experience.

Forensic Analytical Science at Otago

What will I learn?

This degree will focus on the vital analytical techniques of Forensic Biology (including DNA) and Forensic Chemistry (spectroscopy, traceability). The key strength will be the analytical skills acquired.

How will I learn?

The programme is delivered using lectures and practical labs. There may be some fieldwork component in the optional areas of study.

Background required

While entry into the Bachelor of Science programme in Forensic Analytical Science is open to anyone, we strongly recommend you have NCEA Level 3 Chemistry, Biology and Maths (Stats). Strong skills in English would also be beneficial.


FORS papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
FORS201 2024 Analytical and Forensic Science 18 Semester 1
FORS301 2024 Analytical Forensic Biology 18 Semester 2
FORS401 2024 Application of Forensic Science 20 Full Year

More information

Contact us

Dr Charlotte King
Tel +64 3 479 7374

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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