Course Descriptions & Syllabi

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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Note: some or all of the courses in the subjects marked as "Transfer" can be used towards a transfer degree: Associate of Science and Arts or Associate of Engineering Science at DACC. Transferability for specific institutions and majors varies. Consult a counselor for this information.

Areas of Study | | CHEM105 syllabus

COURSE TITLE:Introduction to Forensic Chemistry
IAI CODE(S): P1 903L

Students will examine the influence of chemistry on society through the study of contemporary issues, with an emphasis on forensic chemistry. Students will be introduced to chemical, biochemical, and microscopy principles associated with analyzing organic and inorganic substances including soil, blood, DNA, hair, drugs, toxins, fibers, and glass. The course meets 3 hours lecture and 2 hours of lab per week.

Placement into ENGL101 and MATH101.

NOTES: A lab is required for this course. Some sections will require a separate lab, while other sections will include the lab. Not offered every year.
This course is not available for web registration.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
  • relate current events as well as current and past case studies to forensic chemistry techniques by:
    • Identifying forensic techniques used in criminal cases found in current news articles, news stories, and television shows.
    • Proposing a plan or set of methods to solve criminal cases using forensic chemistry techniques.
    • Judging how current criminal case results set standards for future cases in terms of court rulings, forensic analysis methods and techniques.
  • be introduced to the methods of scientific inquiry and will be expected to do the following:
    • Evaluate questions and situations for solutions.
    • Conduct experiments to explore general chemical and biological analysis techniques of various substances, such as DNA, soils, fibers, hair, etc.
    • Make systematic observations and measurements during classroom discussion and laboratory experiments verbally and in writing.
    • Interpret and analyze data.
    • Draw conclusions from data analyses and results and describe these conclusions through writing.
  • be introduced to analytical chemistry methods and techniques for application to real-life situations:
  • learn approaches used in forensic laboratories for chemical analysis of crime scene evidence.
  • apply chemical analysis techniques to pseudo-evidence.
  • describe and learn the uses of equipment used in forensic chemistry laboratories.

  • Physical Properties and Analysis Techniques (35%)
    • Substances covered include:
      • Glass
      • Soil
      • Hair
      • Paint
      • Fiber
      • Organic compounds
      • Inorganic compounds
  • Serology (30%)
    • Blood identification and typing
    • DNA extraction from various sources
    • DNA fingerprinting
    • Analysis techniques, such as blood typing tests (Hematest tablets, antiserum) and gel electrophoresis
  • Forensic Toxicology (20%)
    • Properties of drugs and poisons
    • Biological effects of drugs and poisons
    • Detection methods and techniques for drugs and poisons
  • Forensic Analysis of Arson and Explosion (5%)
    • Chemistry of flammable compounds and liquids
    • Identification techniques of flammable compounds and liquids
    • Detection of arson and explosion
  • Societal Impact (10%)
    • Researching and discussing current news stories for forensic techniques
    • Discussion of case studies
      • Evaluation of evidence and analysis methods
      • Impact of development of forensic analysis techniques on criminal cases
      • Analysis of evidence and its role in court rulings
      • Establishment of forensic analysis techniques for criminal cases
Weekly Lab Outline: Experiments completed in this course are designed to develop basic skills and tools used in forensic chemistry analysis and build critical thinking skills through analysis of the experimental procedures and results with mathematical calculations and writing. Background on the techniques and case studies in which these techniques are used will also be discussed in lab.
  • Lab 1
    • Metric System and Laboratory Measurements
      • Review of appropriate measuring techniques and data recording for experiments
  • Lab 2
    • Analysis of Glass and Soil
      • Glass density and soil samples are analyzed.
  • Lab 3
    • Microscope Techniques
      • Proper use of a microscope is explained, followed by a time of practice for students in using the microscope.
  • Lab 4
    • Examination of hair and fibers by microscopy.
  • Lab 5
    • Analysis of Ink by paper chromatography.
  • Lab 6
    • Determination of lipstick dyes by Thin Layer Chromatography
  • Lab 7
    • Metal residues on hands from guns, knives and other metal weapons
  • Lab 8
    • Analysis of heavy metal poisons by atomic absorption spectroscopy.
  • Lab 9
    • Blood identification and typing.
  • Lab 10
    • Nuclear DNA extraction.
  • Lab 11
    • DNA fingerprinting.
  • Lab 12
    • Paternity testing.
  • Lab 13
    • Identification of drugs and poisons by infrared spectroscopy.
  • Lab 14
    • Salicylates in blood by visible spectroscopy.
  • Lab 15
    • Analysis of blood alcohol levels by gas chromatography with TCD.
  • Lab 16
    • Arson Detection
      • Analysis of flammable liquids by gas chromatography.


Text: Saferstein. 2004. Criminalistics: An Introduction to Forensic Science, 8th Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall.

Lab Manual: Meloan/James. 2004. Lab Manual: Criminalistics, 8th Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall.

Laboratory Notebook: A bound laboratory notebook with duplicate sheets. This is where you’ll record your data in lab. I recommend the spiral bound 100 page carbon copy notebook from Hayden Mcneil Publishers.

Safety Goggles: Students must purchase their own laboratory safety goggles. Goggles are available in the DACC Bookstore. If you already have your own, they must offer complete protection of the side of your eyes. (Look for the markings "Z87" stamped on the goggles.) Lab safety glasses are not acceptable for students.

Calculator: Any simple scientific or graphing calculator is sufficient.

Enclosed Shoes & Pants: For lab days. If you are not dressed appropriately you will not be allowed to participate.

See bookstore website for current book(s) at

Grading is based on a weighted percentage of four different categories with overall grade divisions at 90, 80, 70 and 60 percent. The four categories are:
four or more midterm tests
weekly lab current event/case study reports
approximately ten quizzes
a cumulative final exam

Attendance is required and a student may be withdrawn from the class roster due to unexcused absences.

Laboratory work must be performed during the regularly scheduled laboratory period. "Make-up" laboratory work at an alternate time will not be an option. No credit will be given for laboratory reports submitted if the student was absent from that laboratory session. If a student has a valid excuse for missing a lecture or laboratory class, credit for the missed period may be arranged with instructor. It will not be "automatic".

All students must pass the laboratory portion of the class in order to pass the course.

The final exam will include all the material that is covered in the semester. Every student is required to take the final exam at the scheduled time. Each student must take and pass the cumulative final exam in order to pass the course.

A curve may be applied at the instructor’s discretion.


Membership in the DACC community brings both rights and responsibility. As a student at DACC, you are expected to exhibit conduct compatible with the educational mission of the College. Academic dishonesty, including but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism, is not tolerated. A DACC student is also required to abide by the acceptable use policies of copyright and peer-to-peer file sharing. It is the student’s responsibility to become familiar with and adhere to the Student Code of Conduct as contained in the DACC Student Handbook. The Student Handbook is available in the Information Office in Vermilion Hall and online at:

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Testing & Academic Services Center at 217-443-8708 (TTY 217-443-8701) or stop by Cannon Hall Room 103. Please speak with your instructor privately to discuss your specific accommodation needs in this course.

Spring 2019

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