Further areas of study

After completing this module you should now have an idea of some of the key concepts which underpin forensic chemistry. However it is important to remember that this is just an introduction and there are many things that have not been covered.

While in the example given the question was ‘What do the tablets contain?’ there are many other questions a forensic chemist could be asked depending on the case. For instance, has someone taken a drug? If so when? What effects may the drug have had?

To answer these questions the analysis of substances in biological matrices is crucial. This may involve more traditional biological fluids such as urine and blood, or more alternative matrices such as hair, saliva or any other matrix that may be related to a crime. The advantages and disadvantages of these different matrices including ease of sample collection, sample processing and the information you can get from them are something that should be considered by the forensic chemist and as such it may be something you wish to explore in more detail.

Neither is the forensic chemist’s work limited to drug analysis. The detection of explosives, either at a crime scene, on a person or in the environment is also very important, and while not covered here could be the subject of a whole course on its own.

In reality the forensic chemist may be asked to analyse almost any material associated with the crime scene, using their experience and knowledge and instrumentation to aid the legal process.

Discussion prompt

Using the links provided, choose at least one area (general drug testing, hair analysis or explosive analysis) to investigate in more detail. Consider the similarities and differences with what you have learnt on the course.

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The Science Behind Forensic Science

King's College London

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