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.

What will I study?

First year: papers worth at least 126 points, to include BIOC 192, CELS 191, CHEM 191, HUBS 191, STAT 110 or 115. At least one of BIOL 123, CHEM 111, HUBS 192, MATH 160 or PHSI 191 is recommended.

Second year: papers worth at least 120 points, to include CHEM 206, FORS 201, GENE 222. And at least two of BIOA 201, BIOC 221, CHEM 201 or 205, FOSC 201, GENE 221, MICR 221, 222, PHAL 211, 212, STAT 242, 261.

In your second year, as well as the required papers in Chemistry, Forensics and Genetics, there is a wide range of options including Biological Anthropology, Genetics and Biochemistry, Microbiology and Pharmacology as well as Statistics.

Third year: papers worth at least 120 points, to include FORS 301, CHEM 306. And at least two of BIOA 301, BIOC 352, CHEM 304, FOSC 301, GENE 312, 315, PHAL 306, PYSC 325, and 300-level MICR and STAT papers.

Third year extends the range even further with Food Science and Psychology.

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 Not offered in 2024

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Contact us

Dr Charlotte King
Tel +64 3 470 3401

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2023 Calendar and supplementary material.

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