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CHEM306 Forensic Chemistry

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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 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,110.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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FORS 201 or 18 200-level CHEM points
Schedule C

Dr Christina McGraw
Tel 64 3 479 7907
Location: Science 2, 5c4

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Dr Christina McGraw

Lecturers: Professor Keith Gordon
Professor Russell Frew
Professor Nigel Perry
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 characterisation
    • 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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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41
Thursday 12:00-12:50 28-34, 36-41
Friday 11:00-11:50 28-34, 36-41


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Thursday 14:00-17:50 28-34, 36-41
A2 Friday 14:00-17:50 28-34, 36-41