Analytical Chemistry and Forensic Science BSc | Co...

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Analytical Chemistry and Forensic Science BSc (Hons) 2018/19 entry

Course code:


Study options:

3 years full-time
4 years sandwich


Coventry University


September 2018



Get in touch

For questions regarding study and admissions please contact us:

+44 (0) 24 7765 2222


This degree allows you to practice techniques to build forensic evidence records and oversee investigations from ‘crime scene to courtroom’.

Analytical chemistry techniques are used in a diverse range of industries – from medical, pharmaceutical and environmental analysis to cosmetics and food manufacture. Alongside molecular sciences, they are also used extensively during the investigation of criminal offences, in areas such as toxicology, fibre analysis fingerprints, questioned documents, the analysis of blood, DNA and fire/explosives residue.

Responding to the growing demand for analytical scientists both nationally and internationally, this exciting course recognises the multidisciplinary requirements of the modern analytical chemist and aims to produce graduates with the skills and knowledge needed by such employers. Our multimillion pound, state-of-the-art Alison Gingell Building features a suite of analytical and biological laboratories and a video linked ‘crime-scene’ house where you can gain hands-on experience in cutting-edge industry techniques.

Our experienced staff adopt a ‘Crime Scene to Court’ approach to their teaching, which really helps you to understand forensics, in particular the need to methodically collect samples, analyse them and present the results to the standard required by the courts. However, the multidisciplinary nature of this predominantly analytical chemistry course means that graduates are well placed to seek work in multiple fields of employment, evidenced by our excellent 100% graduate employability record. (DLHE, 2014/15)

Why Coventry University?

An award-winning university, we are committed to providing our students with the best possible experience. We continue to invest in both our facilities and our innovative approach to education. Our students benefit from industry-relevant teaching, and resources and support designed to help them succeed. These range from our modern library and computing facilities to dedicated careers advice and our impressive Students’ Union activities.

Global ready

An international outlook, with global opportunities


Career-ready graduates, with the skills to succeed

Teaching Excellence

Taught by lecturers who are experts in their field

Course essentials

A degree which offers you more, at no extra cost

Accreditation and Professional Recognition

This course is accredited and recognised by the following bodies:

Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS)

We are in the process of seeking professional accreditation from the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS). This is expected September 2017.

Royal Society of Biology

Many of our staff are Chartered Biologists by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB)

Royal Society of Chemistry

Many of our staff are Chartered Chemists by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences

Many of our staff are professional members of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS)

Our Facilities

Facilities Test Image


The Alison Gingell building contains a state-of-the-art SuperLab, capable of holding up to 270 people at once. The lab's facilities include equipment for microscopy, DNA analysis and forensic testing.


Facilities Test Image


Our facilities include a mock ambulance, which students can use as part of their studies, to help simulate the patient journey. This gives students the opportunity to learn in situations that mirror real life scenarios.


Facilities Test Image

Mock Operating Theatre

Our Alison Gingell building includes a full-size mock operating theatre, containing scrub sinks and theatre lights. We also have a mock hospital ward so that we can study a complete patient pathway.

Course information

This is a varied, applied course, which focuses on the application of the basic science to real-life situations, such as the procedures of a forensic investigation from the collection of evidence right through to the trial.

Analytical measurements are now an essential component of 21st century life, required to identify and control the quality of a vast array of products and samples – from medicines, textiles, agricultural products and forensic samples, such as illicit drugs, right through to the air that we breathe and food that we eat. 

Designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of modern analytical chemistry, our course helps prepare you for a career in contemporary science. Introducing some fundamental chemistry theory throughout the course, we start with simple concepts, such as the principles of bonding, reaction rates and preparation techniques, but rapidly advance to complex spectroscopy and separation theory. To help ensure you are ‘industry ready’ on graduation, we also cover important aspects like quality control, statistics and equipment/experimental validation techniques. 


of our students are satisfied with the quality of the course

NSS, 2016



In your first year, you will learn about fundamental principles, theory and practice within chemistry and forensic science. We teach modules that cover a thorough grounding in law and statistics, which are considered vital elements to the modern forensic scientist, demonstrating a capability to maintain auditable records of your investigations

Subjects include principles of molecular science, principles of analysis, chromatography, atomic spectrometry, molecular spectrometry, sample collection and preparation, forensic science, biochemistry, genetics, and biomedical analysis.


  • Biology for Chemists

  • Chemical Sciences

  • Introduction to Analysis

  • Introduction to Forensic Science

  • Skills in Biomolecular Sciences 1 and 2


The focus on preparing students for successful futures sets Coventry apart as a university.

The Add+vantage modules teach a range of work experience and extra-curricular activities that are taken each year, and broaden students knowledge and skills within a work focused environment. There is a very wide range of Add+vantage free-choice subject areas, and they are arranged in themes.


The second year includes the mandatory analytical chemistry, biomolecular analysis and forensic science topics. Analytical chemistry topics covered concentrate on instrumental analysis and separation and its application in industry.

We offer an extensive laboratory programme where you will gain hands-on experience in the use of key industrially recognised techniques in the areas of separation and modern spectroscopy, including GCMS, HPLC, FT-IR, AAS and ICP-AES. This will provide you with key laboratory skills that analytical chemistry and forensic employers require for graduate jobs.


  • Biomolecular Analysis

  • Analytical Science in Industry

  • Principles of Analytical Techniques

  • Principles of Forensic Science

  • Contemporary Skills for Biomolecular Sciences 1 and 2


The focus on preparing students for successful futures sets Coventry apart as a university.

The Add+vantage modules teach a range of work experience and extra-curricular activities that are taken each year, and broaden students knowledge and skills within a work focused environment. There is a very wide range of Add+vantage free-choice subject areas, and they are arranged in themes.


After your second year, you can choose to apply for an optional sandwich year, studying abroad or on professional placement.

Past students have worked on project teams within Covance where they helped manage projects with teams on different continents, or worked at Nicholls Colton analysing environmental samples for the construction industry. We also have success in the forensic arena, with students working placements at the Maryland State forensic labs in America, and closer to home with LGC Forensics.



The final year continues with mandatory subject areas of advanced analytical chemistry covering topics suitable for future research or industrial work. For the forensic science element, you will apply your knowledge by tackling a simulated investigation to solve a ‘real-world’ problem, which involves the production of an expert witness statement. This exercise culminates in the presentation of evidence in a mock courtroom scenario where you will justify your conclusion.

The key point of this aspect is to include the many different types of evidence, including DNA, fingerprint or fibres, to review them within the context of different crime types such as murder, sex offences or volume crime. You could find yourself being called upon to establish whether the glass found on a suspect’s jumper indicates that he was implicated in smashing a window at an alleged burglary scene or whether blood found on the broken window matches the DNA profile of the suspect’s blood. Other scenarios include an assessment of whether the paint found on a suspect’s keys matches the paint from a damaged vehicle and an assessment of the significance of this match.

You will be required to undertake a project or research-based problem, which has led to past students winning prizes at the Forensic Institute Research Network (FIRN) Midlands regional conference and attended the international Forensic Research and Teaching (FORREST) conference.


  • Independent Project in Biomolecular Science

  • Research Design for the Biomolecular Sciences

  • Forensic Identification

  • Instrumentation and Advanced Techniques in Analysis

  • Case Studies in Analysis

  • Advanced Forensic Science


The focus on preparing students for successful futures sets Coventry apart as a university.

The Add+vantage modules teach a range of work experience and extra-curricular activities that are taken each year, and broaden students knowledge and skills within a work focused environment. There is a very wide range of Add+vantage free-choice subject areas, and they are arranged in themes.


We are ranked as the 13th best University in the United Kingdom - Guardian University Guide 2019

In more detail...

  • Support applying for short and long-term placements in laboratory and industrial settings.
  • Scene of crime outfit, basic fingerprint kit, laboratory coat and safety spectacles provided for use.
  • High levels of student satisfaction – 95% for the quality of teaching in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2016.
  • Outstanding graduate employability – 100% of students in work or study six months after leaving (DLHE 2014/15).
  • Regular guest speakers have previously included: Derek Forrest OBE, Interpol’s lead on Disaster Victim Identification; a former student now working as a DNA analyst and a forensic scientist with many years’ experience of presenting evidence in court.
  • Many of our staff are professionally recognised as accredited as Chartered Chemists by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), Chartered Biologists by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB) and are professional members of the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS).
  • Hands-on experience of a wide range of laboratory techniques including High Performance Liquid Chromatography, Gas chromatography-Mass Spectrometry, UV and IR Spectrometry, Atomic Emission Spectroscopy, Capillary Electrophoresis, gene amplification using PCR and Gene Sequencing (DNA17).
  • Strong network of professional agencies and potential employers and excellent research links with Key Forensic Services Ltd and LGC Forensics Ltd, whose practising forensic scientists have previously provided guest lectures and workshops to help students prepare themselves for the real-world experience of forensic science, as well as specific topics for final year research projects.

Based in the multimillion pound Alison Gingell Building featuring a purpose built analytical suite, the largest Class II containment teaching lab in Europe.

Our main study themes are: 

  • Chemical analysis: We deal with the important areas of sampling, sample preparation, extraction techniques and analysis in the analytical sciences. The quantitative aspects of spectrometry, chromatography and electrophoresis will be emphasised. We will examine the various processes and techniques involved and their possible uses in analysis of a wide variety of chemical and biological materials including foods, environmental and pharmaceutical samples within industrial and manufacturing environments.
  • Forensic science: Covers crime scene protocols for recovery, physical, biological and chemical techniques for analysis, statistical interpretation and legal aspects governing presentation of evidence for the criminal justice system. Techniques covered range from ‘spot tests’ for blood, drugs and firearm residues to the development of latent fingerprints, the identification of glass and paint fragments and the microscopic examination of hairs and fibres.
  • Biology for chemists: Covers key biological principles including the structure and activities of both prokaryotic (bacterial) and eukaryotic cells, the structure and function of biological macromolecules, enzymes and metabolic pathways, and genetic inheritance. These concepts are vital for understanding of key techniques employed in forensic science such as DNA analysis.
  • Laboratory competence: Generic and specialised skills in experimental biology, including experimentation and measurements on humans, anti-contamination and audit trail procedures, safety (eg. key laboratory skills and competencies, good laboratory practice) and ethical considerations.
  • Research methods: Critical analysis, reflection, information searching and experimental design in the biological sciences. Data collection, analysis and presentation.

This course is available as a full-time three-year or optional four-year sandwich course, the latter incorporating a work placement or study year in a related field with previous students working as Forensic Intelligence Operators for Maryland Police in the USA or analysts at Veolia Environmental Services, for example.  For the previous two years, this course has achieved a positive destination score of 100% in the Destinations of Leavers from HE (DLHE) survey. This survey collects information on what all leavers from higher education (HE) programmes are doing six months after qualifying, with those undertaking graduate jobs or further study deemed to have a positive destination. 

The applied nature of the course has led to consistently high levels of student satisfaction – 100% for the quality of teaching in the National Student Survey (NSS) 2016 with 100% of students saying that the teaching team was good at explaining things and enthusiastic about what they teach.

We offer a range of practical classes, where you will undertake analysis of real samples such as bodily fluids like blood and saliva, environmental samples like soil, food and agricultural elements, such as soft drinks, and pharmaceutical agents, as well as forensically specific samples such as drugs of abuse and fire debris.  In order to analyse this, you will use a range of analytical equipment including ICP-OES, GC-MS, HPLC, ATR-FT-IR, analytical titrations and DNA prisms. These deliver a logical acquisition and development of laboratory skills. 

Throughout the course, there will be opportunities to receive insight from the latest research and input from guest speakers in specific areas of analytical chemistry and forensic science, such as environmental disaster management and offender profiling.  Each year, the School of Life Sciences also organises a trip for a number of students to go to Malawi, the UN identified ‘poorest country in the world’, to carry out charitable work in science education, environmental improvement, medical assessment and development and reconstruction.  

Teaching methods include:
lectures, seminars, tutorials, laboratory work, workshops, textbooks, module webs, journals (hard copies and electronic) within theory and laboratory-based modules.

Meet our staff

Dr Sharon Williams

Dr Sharon Williams is a Lecturer and a course Director of Analytical Chemistry and Forensic Sciences

Read full profile

The learning outcomes of modules, assignments and projects will be clearly stated. Your work will be marked according to how well you achieve these learning outcomes and your final feedback will refer to each outcome, as well as providing an overall percentage grade. 

Assessment methods vary and include: practical class and project performance, written practical reports, project thesis, oral presentations, tutorial tasks, project proposals and practical tests (laboratory competence and reports).

An estimated percentage breakdown of your final grade assessment is as follows:

  • Coursework, tests, essays: 45%
  • Practical or project work: 25% 
  • Formal examinations: 15%
  • Presentations and posters: 10%
  • Group work: 5%

In order to qualify for the award of Bachelor of Science (Honours), a student must satisfy the University requirements of 360 credits. A student who does not wish to progress to a subsequent year of study may apply for an intermediate award of Diploma of Higher Education if they pass a minimum of 240 credits. A Certificate of Higher Education may be awarded to a student with minimum of 120 credits.

45% assessed by coursework, tests, essays

On successful completion, you should have knowledge of:

  • Basic theoretical concepts of a wide range of analytical chemistry techniques and their application to problem solving.
  • Qualitative and quantitative aspects of analysis.
  • The theory and application of techniques used in forensic science, including those of a biological nature.
  • Mathematical techniques appropriate for a science degree course.
  • Effective laboratory skills and aspects of health and safety applicable to a laboratory environment.

On successful completion, you should be able to:

  • Analyse, evaluate and interpret information from a variety of sources and compile the information in the appropriate form required.
  • Demonstrate an analytical approach to problem solving by having the ability to recognise and analyse novel problems and plan strategies for their solution.
  • Communicate effectively in a variety of numerical, oral and written forms.
  • Safely carry out laboratory procedures.
  • Undertake effective forensic and analytical work using a skilled, accurate and precise approach.
  • Produce well-structured and logical arguments.
  • Design and implement problem solving techniques to solve appropriate forensic and analytical problems.
  • Demonstrate numerical and data manipulation skills at an appropriate level.
  • Operate independently or as part of an effective part of a team to solve problems of a technical and practical nature and provide appropriate solutions.
  • Interpret data derived from laboratory observations and measurements in terms of their significance and the theory underlying them.


of our graduates are in work or further study six months after the course

DHLE 2014/15

In a typical teaching week, you will have up to 18 ‘contact’ hours of teaching. This generally breaks down as:

  • Personal tutorial/small group teaching: 6 hours of workshops/online tutorials each week.
  • Medium group teaching: 6 hours of workshops or seminars each week.
  • Large group teaching: 6 hours of lectures each week.

In addition, you will be expected to undertake a further 18 hours of self-directed study each week eg. revising.

Our sandwich degree option allows a full year work placement, which can be taken abroad, or you can undertake a study year abroad. A number of students in our department have been successful in securing places to study in Spain, France, Canada and the US.

The course attracts many international students, particularly from Romania, Poland, Switzerland and the Middle East, providing a diverse learning experience. It is also used by a number of international law enforcement agencies to provide chemistry and forensic science training for trainee police officers. The experiences that these students can provide are a valuable resource for the entire cohort.

OIL (Online International Learning) projects and field trips opportunities are available to all students in Level 1 and Level 2, in collaboration with Seville and VIC in Spain.

Global ready

Did you know we help more students travel internationally than any other UK university according to data from the experts in higher education data and analysis, HESA?

In 2015/16, we were able to provide a total of 2101 experiences abroad that lasted at least five days, 76% of which were our own organised trips for undergraduates and 23% from postgraduate travel.

Much of this travel is made possible through our Global Leaders Programme, which enables students to prepare for the challenges of the global employment market, as well as strengthening and developing their broader personal and professional skills.

Explore our international experiences

1st for

international experiences

Sending more students overseas than any other UK uni (HESA)


Student experiences

The number of student trips abroad for at least 5 days in 2015/16


and counting

The number of students we’ve helped travel internationally so far


global programmes

As well as trips, we offer other opportunities like language courses

Tuition Fees

We pride ourselves on offering competitive tuition fees which we review on an annual basis and offer a wide range of scholarships to support students with their studies. Course fees are calculated on the basis of what it costs to teach each course and we aim for total financial transparency.

For more information, please visit our Finance pages.



September 2018

£9,250 (per year)


If you're a truly outstanding undergraduate candidate we may be able to offer you a Coventry University Scholarship.

Coventry University Scholarships are awarded to recognise truly exceptional sports achievement and academic excellence.



September 2018

£9,250 (per year)


For the September 2018 intake we're investing in a range of EU Academic Excellence scholarships for high achieving and enterprising students. Fulfil your potential this academic year with Coventry University!



September 2018

£13,700 (per year)


For the September 2018 intake we're investing in a wide range of Academic Excellence scholarships for high achieving and enterprising international students. Fulfil your potential this academic year with Coventry University!

Course essentials at no extra cost

We're committed to communicating study costs clearly to make sure you're not faced with having to make any unexpected payments.

This is why our ‘Flying Start’ package provides you with a few course essentials. Your full-time fee for an undergraduate degree will cover the following:

UK field trips

Any mandatory site visits and trips within the United Kingdom.

Key material

This can include core textbooks, software and equipment.

Laser prints

1,000 A4 sides of black and white laser printing credits per year.

Optional year

Pay no tuition fees for optional work placements or study abroad trips.

As well as covering UK field trips, key materials and laser print, the fees for this course also include:

  • Student membership of the Forensic Science Society for third year students
  • Costs of any mandatory UK day visits
  • Laboratory coat and safety spectacles provided for use
  • Scene of Crime outfit and basic fingerprint kit
  • Free copy of SPSS statistics software
  • Disclosure and Barring Service (formally CRB Disclosure) for those undertaking placements with children

The following are additional costs not included in the fees:

  • Refundable deposit for turning point handset
  • Any optional visits and overseas field trips or visits: £400+ per trip

Career prospects

The applied nature of this course not only provides a stimulating academic experience, but also means that you have extensive opportunities to graduate as an all-round analytical chemist with a thorough training in the applications of forensic science.

This means you should be well-placed for employment in a variety of science areas including public services analysis, for example in air or water analysis laboratories, forensic science services, food manufacturers, beauty care and cosmetics companies, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. 

The skills of analytical chemists are also increasingly in demand for checking the quality of our food and water, protecting the environment and monitoring industrial materials and processes. You may also consider regulatory organisations such as the Foods Standards Agency (FSA), or the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Coventry University is committed to preparing you for your future career and giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market. The University's Careers and Employability team provide a wide range of support services to help you plan and prepare for your career.


of our graduates are in work or further study six months after the course

DLHE 2014/15

Where our graduates work

Previous graduates of this course have secured laboratory positions with forensic providers in both Government and private sector organisations, while others have acquired posts in various analytical labs including those within the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, environmental, geotechnical and waste treatment industries with companies such as Viola Environmental, BP, LGC Forensics, and Charles River Laboratories.

Graduates not wishing to work in laboratory based occupations have previously secured posts in scientific equipment and medical sales, where they can apply their scientific training to real-world problem solving. A number have also gone on to work in managerial positions where their numeracy and analytical skills have been of benefit, for example, as a workflow planning manager for a building supplies company in Cambridgeshire or team leader of the DNA reference samples team of Key Forensic Services Ltd.


Our graduates earn an average salary of £19,000 six months after the course (DLHE 2014/15)


By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the University. The Contract will detail your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and will contain the obligations that the University will owe to you. We encourage you to read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the University. A copy of the 18/19 Contract can be found here.