MChem
Forensic Chemistry

Key Information


Duration

4 years

Typical Offer

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Campus

Brayford Pool

UCAS Code

F1F5

Academic Year

Course Overview

Forensic chemistry is the application of scientific knowledge and investigation to law enforcement. From identifying substances to analysing crime scenes, the skills of a forensic chemist often play a vital role in criminal investigations.

This course offers a comprehensive study of chemistry integrated with forensic specialisms, including DNA analysis, biological chemistry, and forensic toxicology, so that students can develop an in-depth understanding of forensic chemistry and fundamental science.

On the MChem, the study experience is extended through a full-year industrial placement which may be with one of the University's industry or overseas partners, or in one of our research groups. Placements are conducted alongside advanced academic study, focusing on research frontiers in chemistry. Students are supported when finding and undertaking a placement.

The School of Chemistry takes a research-centred approach to teaching and learning, and students have the chance to work with academics on collaborative research projects.

Why Choose Lincoln

Subject ranked 3rd in the UK for student satisfaction*

Full-year industrial placement

Accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry

Industry challenges set through partnerships with multinational organisations

Focus on professional practice to improve career prospects

Opportunities to engage with staff on research projects

*Complete University Guide 2024 (out of 53 ranking institutions)

Students taking part in a lab demonstration

How You Study

The first year offers a solid foundation in chemistry, including laboratory work and mathematics and statistics, as well as the principles of forensic science and crime scene investigation. In their second year, students go on to explore advanced aspects of forensic chemistry and are introduced to key areas of advanced crime scene methods and trace evidence, before tailoring the course to match their interests with a range of modules in their third year.

All students in the fourth year of the MChem programme currently have the opportunity to undertake a full-year industrial placement. You can choose your placement with one of the University's industry or overseas partners, or in one of our research groups. Placements are conducted alongside advanced academic study, focusing on research frontiers in chemistry.

Students are supported in finding their placement and when undertaking it. Salaried placements are competitive and students will be expected to complete an application process for such positions. In addition to paying their tuition fees, students will need to cover their own travel, accommodation, and general living costs throughout their placement.

The course includes lectures, seminars, laboratory-based practical classes and lectures from visiting scientists.

Modules


† Some courses may offer optional modules. The availability of optional modules may vary from year to year and will be subject to minimum student numbers being achieved. This means that the availability of specific optional modules cannot be guaranteed. Optional module selection may also be affected by staff availability.

Advanced Forensic Toxicology 2027-28FRS9063MLevel 72027-28In this module students have the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of the fate of toxins within the human body and the analysis of biological specimens that builds upon the knowledge gained from modules previously studied. Laboratory work will be based upon case work and the development of new methods providing a realistic experience of the role of the forensic toxicologist in legal cases. Use of external practitioners, laboratory visits and specialist equipment aim to further add to this experience and strengthen the opportunity for employment in this highly competitive field. Laboratory problems will be less directed and aim to further develop skills in teamwork and independent learning. Students are also expected to develop skills in interpretation of results and presentation in court, as expected for a professional forensic toxicologist within the present legal system. New method development will be backed up by consideration of research developments across all aspects of the field.OptionalBioanalytical Methods and Sensor Technologies 2027-28CHM9010MLevel 72027-28This inter-disciplinary module introduces the biology, physics, and chemistry behind some the most common and emerging sensors used in analytical science and their mode of action. The special challenges of bioanalytical methods provides a modern context for specific sensor development and case studies will be presented from forensic, pharmaceutical and healthcare contexts for development of sensors.OptionalFire and Explosions 2027-28FRS9055MLevel 72027-28Students have the opportunity to develop knowledge in the physics and chemistry of fire and explosions, which is then used to understand and interpret fire and explosion scenes. Case studies, fieldwork and laboratory work will provide the contexts for the knowledge delivered in lectures and workshops. Laboratory skills can be further developed from modules covered earlier in the course and emphasis will be placed on students working on professionally focused group and individual problems. The professional and research literature will be a major information source that will inform module content and provide the context of the role of forensic scientists in fire and explosion investigation within the framework of the present legal system.OptionalMethod Development and Validation 2027-28FRS9058MLevel 72027-28This module comprises two main components: The first will provide fundamental knowledge concerning strategies for Sampling, Data analysis, Reporting, Quality assurance and Quality control, Numerical and IT skills, and Safety in relation to analytical science. The second will provide the general introductory principles and a theoretical understanding of a range of instrumental analytical techniques and their applications. The module aims to provide the background knowledge needed for an understanding of the various principles discussed in greater detail in other modulesOptionalCore Chemistry 1.1: Introduction to Energy, Change and Electronic Structure 2024-25CHM1002MLevel 42024-25This module aims to provide a breadth core understanding of the main chemical principles behind the chemistry of elements, systems in equilibrium and chemical reactivity, with special emphasis in basic organic reactions. Students will have the opportunity to learn basic concepts about elements and their main periodic properties and how some of these elements can be combined to produce molecules. Organic molecules will be used as an example to explain reactivity and how chemical structure can condition molecular properties. Energy transfers are also studied to understand the key role they play in chemical and physical transformations and how systems in equilibrium are affected by these.CoreCore Chemistry 1.2: Molecular Structure, Bonding and Mechanism 2024-25CHM1003MLevel 42024-25This module aims to introduce core chemistry concepts with an emphasis on chemical change. Movement and interaction of molecules and chemical kinetics are key physical chemistry topics covered and applied to chemical reactions of both organic and inorganic substances. The use of empirical data to develop and support laws, theories and models will be covered and how chemical kinetics can be used to develop reaction mechanisms. An introduction to crystallography and absorption spectroscopy is covered.CoreCrime Scene Investigation 2024-25FRS1051MLevel 42024-25This module is concerned with the skills required to protect, record, process and interpret a crime scene. Emphasis is placed on the role of crime scene investigation in the ‘forensic process’. The process of crime scene investigation is examined from scene preservation and recording (e.g. sketches and photography) to evidence recovery, packaging and documentation. The need for avoidance of contamination of the crime scene and for the subsequent continuity and integrity of the recovered evidence form an integral component of the module.CoreIntroduction to Professional Practice 2024-25CHM1004MLevel 42024-25This module aims to provide students with an overview of the application of chemistry in commercial and industrial contexts to underpin more detailed coverage in later models in this series. The module aims to develop fundamental skills in mathematics and IT which will underpin their core chemistry modules. The module will also give students the opportunity to develop their transferable skills including knowledge of health and safety in the chemistry laboratory, effective communication in both written and oral form and group work.CorePractical Chemistry 1.1: Fundamental laboratory techniques 2024-25CHM1005MLevel 42024-25This module aims to introduce students to the chemistry laboratory environment. The purpose of the module is to provide students with a platform which can be built upon in subsequent practical modules and equalise their potentially pre-university laboratory experience. Within this module students can learn a portfolio of skills and be evaluated via competency based assessments. The module also covers best practice in health and safety in the laboratory environment as part of the series of key core concepts delivered in the module.CorePractical Chemistry 1.2: Introduction to synthetic methodologies and molecular characterisation 2024-25CHM1006MLevel 42024-25This module aims to provide students with the practical experience associated with the topics delivered in Core Chemistry 1.1 and Core Chemistry 1.2. The module will outline key organic, inorganic and physical chemistry concepts with a series of laboratory activities reinforced by the use of relevant analytical techniques and tools throughout a range of experiments.CoreProfessional Practice 1.2: Forensic Laboratory Analysis 2024-25FRS1056MLevel 42024-25This module will explain the process of forensic practice within the laboratory, including areas such as chain of custody, contemporaneous note taking, standard operating procedures and quality control. The module is therefore built around the principle that high quality forensic scientific evidence is not only about employing sound scientific methodology but is also dependent on the rigour of the procedures employed and the accurate reporting of results. It will also look to develop a range of transferable skills relating to scientific literature retrieval, understanding, and presentation, and allow students to further develop their mathematical and statistical skills.CoreAdvanced Crime Scene Investigation 2025-26FRS2006MLevel 52025-26This module builds on the Crime Scene Investigation module and focuses on the application of advanced techniques for the detection, recovery, analysis and interpretation of a wide range of evidence found at a crime scene. Students can further develop their understanding of the role and responsibilities of the crime scene manager and the investigation of complex crime scenes, including key specialists and agencies to be involved. Within this context students will look at the need to follow ISO accredited procedures and the latest up to date working practices within crime scene investigation. As part of the module students are expected to undertake the examination of a complex crime scene.CoreCore Chemistry 2.1: Stability, Structure and Mechanism in Molecular Systems 2025-26CHM2002MLevel 52025-26This module aims to provide a breadth core understanding of the physicochemical principles behind some of the main analytical techniques and how these can be applied to identify atomic and molecular structures in both inorganic and organic chemistry. It also offers an insight on advanced synthetic methods and how these techniques can be used to explain and interpret structure and reactivity of complex molecules, such as coordination and organometallic compounds.CoreCore Chemistry 2.2: Chemistry of Activated Systems and Radicals 2025-26CHM2003MLevel 52025-26This module aims to further develop core chemistry concepts relating to chemical change. Electrochemistry is used to study thermodynamic properties of redox reactions as well as the kinetics of electrode processes. The kinetics of complex reactions builds upon the chemical kinetics material covered at level one. Bonding between metals and carbon is explored and further developed as the main group organometallics.CoreMarks and Traces Evidence 2025-26FRS2018MLevel 52025-26This module is designed to develop an understanding of the importance of marks and trace materials, such as hair, fibres, glass, footwear and latent fingermarks, as evidence, their detection, recovery, analysis and the interpretation of results gained from these. The issues of transfer and persistence of such materials is also highlighted and the need to consider this throughout the above processes. Students will have the opportunity to be introduced to microscopy and analytical procedures and techniques relevant to the analysis of marks and traces evidence.CorePractical Chemistry 2.1: Organic synthesis, purification and advanced characterisation 2025-26CHM2004MLevel 52025-26This module aims to provide students with the practical experience associated with the topics delivered in Core Chemistry 2.1, with a strong focus on organic chemistry. The module will outline essential complex organic chemistry concepts with a series of laboratory activities designed around multistep syntheses and reinforced by the use of relevant analytical techniques and tools throughout a range experiments.CorePractical Chemistry 2.2: Inorganic synthesis and structural methods 2025-26CHM2005MLevel 52025-26This module aims to provide students with the practical experience associated with the topics delivered in Core Chemistry 2.2, with a strong focus on inorganic and physical chemistry. The module is constituted of a series of laboratory activities designed to familiarise students with an array of techniques centred around key aspects of inorganic syntheses. Specifically, the module emphasizes stability and speciation methods and their applications to the inorganic chemistry field. All aspects of the module will be supported by associated relevant analytical technologies.CoreProfessional Practice 2.2: Quality Assurance and Regulation 2025-26FRS2026MLevel 52025-26This module aims to provide students with an appreciation of regulation and quality assurance in forensic science and the role of the Forensic Science Regulator in this – key concepts in modern forensic science. Students will apply the method validation tools from previous modules to evaluate forensic data within a quality context. Students will also develop skills in the retrieval, critical review and communication of scientific literature and other published work.CoreInternational Study Year 2025-26CHM2009MLevel 52025-26The option to study overseas is a valuable educational opportunity for our students. Provision of this option supports the educational aims of the Chemistry programmes and enhances the distinctiveness of its degrees at Lincoln. The experience is intended to: - enable students to benefit from studying within a cross cultural environment; - expose students to a wider academic and cultural experience; - enhance their future employment opportunities; - by increasing their cultural and professional mobility. This module is optional for students within the School. Study Abroad is a module which enables students to spend a year studying abroad at one of the University’s approved partner institutions. Eligible students must have completed their third year of study to a satisfactory standard and successfully completed the application process for the year abroad. During the time spent abroad, students will complete the professional development portfolio and will critically reflect upon their experience of living and studying in a different cultural environment and the skills acquired.OptionalCore Chemistry 3.1: Defining Shape, Symmetry and Stereochemistry 2026-27CHM3002MLevel 62026-27This module aims to provide deeper understanding on physicochemical principles behind materials and their properties, exploring advanced concepts in supramolecular chemistry and synthetic routes for more complex organic molecules. Crystals, colloids, discontinuous phases and solid state chemistry concepts are studied in depth to understand physical and chemical properties that give these materials a wide range of application in industry and research.CoreCore Chemistry 3.2: Heterogeneous Systems, Surfaces and Nanoscience 2026-27CHM3003MLevel 62026-27This module covers in greater depth the thermodynamics and kinetics of processes occurring on solid surfaces. Heterogeneous catalysis is used as an example of how reactions at solid surfaces differ from those in the bulk. Electrochemistry is further developed. Organic chemistry topics are the advanced areas of radical chemistry and orbital symmetry along with heteroelement and organometallic synthesis. Concepts of supramolecular chemistry are covered.CoreDrugs of Abuse and Forensic Toxicology 2026-27FRS3053MLevel 62026-27This module provides a context for the chemical, physiological and analytical content introduced at levels 1 and 2. It deciphers the complex and dynamic world context of Drugs of Abuse and intrinsic challenges faced by analytical chemists. It also covers the legislation of controlled substances and chemical precursors as well as the different classes of drugs. Additionally, the synthesis of illicit drugs will be explored to gain an understanding of how this knowledge can be used in drug profiling. The module also covers the ante and post-mortem toxicology of drugs, relates dose to physiological effect as well as consider appropriate samples and analytical strategies used in forensic toxicology. Supporting and illustrating these concepts, students can undertake the role of an analytical chemist in investigative practical activities which will cover best practice in Drug of Abuse and Toxicology laboratory analyses.CorePractical Chemistry 3.1: Advanced techniques in IO-chemistry 2026-27CHM3004MLevel 62026-27This module builds upon previous practical modules and provides a support for the illustration of the theory delivered in the Core chemistry 3.1 module. The concept of this module is to offer students the opportunity to experience and dissect the process of designing a material which fulfils specific requirements or needs, its synthesis and its characterisation. Through this process, the module offers the opportunity to host advanced complex organic syntheses (such as asymmetric synthesis) and supramolecular synthesis. Additionally, the module introduces students to a series of stereoselective analytical techniques designed to characterise aforementioned materials.CoreStructured project 2026-27CHM3006MLevel 62026-27This module offers students the opportunity to undertake an independent programme of research under the supervision of a member of staff. It provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate original and critical thoughts as well as build practical and project-management skills. Students may select a project from a series of proposals provided by staff, conduct a review of the literature, identify a hypothesis, and design a programme of research to test the hypothesis (under guidance from their supervisor). Students will be expected to manage the project including obtaining relevant ethical approval and conducting COSHH and risk assessments. Students may analyse and interpret data which will be collected in the laboratory or the field, or using computational sources (e.g. software for mathematical modelling; the internet for the meta-analysis of pre-collected data). The project will be written up either as a thesis or a scientific paper following closely defined criteria.CoreBiological Chemistry 2026-27CHM3001MLevel 62026-27The Biological Chemistry module is taught across the disciplines of biology and chemistry and is designed to challenge and develop an awareness of multidiscipline research within students. The overarching aim is to encourage and develop a mode of thinking in students of how chemistry influences biological processes and how this can be exploited by industry and emerging fields.OptionalFire, Explosives and Nuclear Forensics 2026-27FRS3054MLevel 62026-27This module introduces the chemistry and physics of fire and explosives and considers the investigation of fire and explosion scenes with an emphasis on arson and the use of improvised explosive devices. The challenges of evidence recovery, laboratory examination and chemical analysis are covered. This module also considers the various aspects of nuclear terrorism, in the context of global security. The underpinning science and the forensic investigation of nuclear materials for intelligence building is discussed.OptionalProfessional and Personal Development 2027-28CHM9007MLevel 72027-28This module aims to develop systematic personal and professional development of a student in a specialist area of chemistry to enhance employability. This is achieved through development and execution of a personal learning plan designed using a process of self-reflection around five development themes: personal development; professional skills development; technical skills development; research interests; career development.CoreAcademic Research Project 2027-28CHM9005MLevel 72027-28This module provides students with the opportunity to apply chemical knowledge and laboratory skills to an extended practical research study. It also provides the opportunity to further develop professional skills, including the use of online literature/chemical data searching; ability to critically review relevant published literature & written/oral presentation of research activities.OptionalCommercial Research Project 2027-28CHM9006MLevel 72027-28This module provides students with the opportunity to apply chemical knowledge and laboratory skills to an extended practical research study within a commercial context. Students can further develop professional skills, incl. use of online literature/chemical data searching; ability to critically review relevant published literature and written/oral presentation of research activities.Optional

What You Need to Know

We want you to have all the information you need to make an informed decision on where and what you want to study. In addition to the information provided on this course page, our What You Need to Know page offers explanations on key topics including programme validation/revalidation, additional costs, contact hours, and our return to face-to-face teaching.

How you are assessed

The way students are assessed on this course may vary for each module. Examples of assessment methods that are used include coursework, such as written assignments, reports, or dissertations; practical exams, such as presentations, performances, or observations; and written exams, such as formal examinations or in-class tests. The weighting given to each assessment method may vary across each academic year. The University of Lincoln aims to ensure that staff return in-course assessments to students promptly.

Accreditation

This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Through accreditation, the Royal Society of Chemistry aims to promote good practices in the university education of chemical scientists, and ensure that future practising scientists are knowledgeable and competent.

Royal Society of Chemistry Logo

Skills Development and Professional Practice

Our Chemistry courses have an embedded explicit skills development programme through the professional practice modules. The programme delivers a systematic programme in skills development, which includes CV writing and interview skills. The modules exemplify the application of chemistry into key employment sectors and present chemistry through an integrated approach.

Industry Challenges

A series of themed industry challenges are co-delivered during the professional practice modules through industry partnerships with multi-national and SME organisations representing the analytical, formulation, pharmaceutical, and energy and environmental sectors.

After systematic project planning and management training, students can devise and present technical proposals in response to the challenge. After consultation and feedback from a joint academic and industry panel, students can execute project plans and report within industry standard methods. The professional practice modules aim to prepare students for placements and future employment.

If it wasn’t for the University of Lincoln, I would not be working for one of the best global pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Placements

We use an innovative ‘end-on’ full-year industrial placement programme for all students at Stage 4 of the MChem. You can choose to focus on research through a placement in a research group at the University or another institution, or complete a full-year placement (usually salaried £15-20k). Salaried placements are competitive and students will be expected to undertake an application process for such positions.

In addition to paying their tuition fees, students will need to cover their own travel, accommodation, and general living costs throughout their placement. There are also opportunities for overseas placements with European, American, and Australian institutions through our International Intern Programme which takes place between the third and fourth year.

What Can I Do with a Forensic Chemistry Degree?

Forensic Chemistry graduates benefit from specialist skills and technical knowledge that are transferable to careers in chemistry, forensic laboratories, and law enforcement organisations, such as police forces, HMRC, and environmental health. Some graduates go on to study at doctoral level.

Entry Requirements 2024-25

United Kingdom

112 UCAS Tariff points from a minimum of 2 A Levels or equivalent qualifications to include 40 points in Chemistry.

International Baccalaureate: Pass Diploma from a minimum of 2 Higher Level subjects to include a Higher Level 5 in Chemistry.

BTEC Extended Diploma in Applied Science or Forensic Science*: Distinction, Merit, Merit or equivalent.

*not all modules are accepted. Please contact our Admissions team for further information (admissions@lincoln.ac.uk)

Access to Higher Education Diploma: 45 Level 3 credits with a minimum of 112 UCAS Tariff points, including 40 points from 15 credits in Chemistry.

Applicants will also need at least three GCSEs at grade 4 or above, which must include English, Maths and Science. Equivalent Level 2 qualifications may also be considered.

The University accepts a wide range of qualifications as the basis for entry and do accept a combination of qualifications which may include A Levels, BTECs, EPQ etc.

We will also consider applicants with extensive and relevant work experience and will give special individual consideration to those who do not meet the standard entry qualifications.

International

Non UK Qualifications:

If you have studied outside of the UK, and are unsure whether your qualification meets the above requirements, please visit our country pages for information on equivalent qualifications.

https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/studywithus/internationalstudents/entryrequirementsandyourcountry/

EU and Overseas students will be required to demonstrate English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.0 overall, with a minimum of 5.5 in each element. For information regarding other English language qualifications we accept, please visit the English Requirements page.

https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/studywithus/internationalstudents/englishlanguagerequirementsandsupport/englishlanguagerequirements/

If you do not meet the above IELTS requirements, you may be able to take part in one of our Pre-sessional English and Academic Study Skills courses.

https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/studywithus/internationalstudents/englishlanguagerequirementsandsupport/pre-sessionalenglishandacademicstudyskills/

For applicants who do not meet our standard entry requirements, our Science Foundation Year can provide an alternative route of entry onto our full degree programmes:

https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/course/sfysfyub/

If you would like further information about entry requirements, or would like to discuss whether the qualifications you are currently studying are acceptable, please contact the Admissions team on 01522 886097, or email admissions@lincoln.ac.uk

Contextual Offers

At Lincoln, we recognise that not everybody has had the same advice and support to help them get to higher education. Contextual offers are one of the ways we remove the barriers to higher education, ensuring that we have fair access for all students regardless of background and personal experiences. For more information, including eligibility criteria, visit our Offer Guide pages.

Fees and Scholarships

Going to university is a life-changing step and it's important to understand the costs involved and the funding options available before you start. A full breakdown of the fees associated with this programme can be found on our course fees pages.

Course Fees

For eligible undergraduate students going to university for the first time, scholarships and bursaries are available to help cover costs. To help support students from outside of the UK, we are also delighted to offer a number of international scholarships which range from £1,000 up to the value of 50 per cent of tuition fees. For full details and information about eligibility, visit our scholarships and bursaries pages.

Find out More by Visiting Us

The best way to find out what it is really like to live and learn at Lincoln is to visit us in person. We offer a range of opportunities across the year to help you to get a real feel for what it might be like to study here.

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The University intends to provide its courses as outlined in these pages, although the University may make changes in accordance with the Student Admissions Terms and Conditions.