CHEM 4204 - Forensic Chemistry
Course Syllabus - Spring 2009

Individuals with disabilities who need to request accommodations should contact 
the Disability Services Coordinator, Student Center 214, 678-466-5445,

Course Description:

    Number and Title:

CHEM 4204(CRN 24365)
Forensic Chemistry

    Credit Hours:

3.0 semester credit hours

    Course Description:

The study of the chemistry, physics, biology, and legal issues of forensic science.  Topics typically include the legal aspects of forensic science, drug analysis, forensic toxicology, explosives and arson investigation, glass analysis, hair and fiber analysis, paint analysis, blood and semen analysis, soil examination, blood and breath alcohol content analysis, questioned document examination, and firearm examination.  Various laboratory instruments and procedures will also be covered including mass spectrometry, infrared spectrophotometry, nuclear magnetic resonance, chromatography, visible microscopial spectrophotometry, neutron activation analysis, and microscopes (light, polarized light, comparison, stereoscopic, scanning electron).

    Course Prerequisite:

CHEM2412 and CHEM2412L with a grade of D or better.

Notebook Computer Requirement:

Each CCSU student is required to have ready access throughout the semester to a notebook computer that meets faculty-approved hardware and software requirements for the student's academic program. Students will sign a statement attesting to such access.  For further information on CCSU's Official Notebook Computer Policy, please go to

Computer Skill Prerequisites:

In-class Use of Student Notebook Computers:

Student notebook computers will not be used in the classroom in this course. Computers will be required to access course materials and to communicate with your instructor.

Course Objectives:

Student Learning Outcomes:

General education outcomes:

Chemistry Outcomes:

         CHEM4204 supports outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the chemistry minor:

Biology Outcomes:

Outcome 3:   Apply knowledge of physical sciences, mathematics, and statistics to biological concepts.

Instructor Information:

Dr. Susan F. Hornbuckle
Phone: (678) 466-4780

Office hours: 12:00 PM – 3:30 PM M ADM 11 or
BHS: C-50
  3:30 PM - 5:00 PM 
(by appointment only)*
M,W,Th ADM 11 or
BHS: C-50
  11:00 AM - 3:30 PM 
(by appointment only)*
T ADM 11 or
BHS: C-50
  noon – 1:50 PM W BHS: C-48
  2:00 PM – 3:30 PM W ADM 11 or
BHS: C-50
  10:00 AM - noon
Th ADM 11 or
BHS: C-50
  12:30 PM - 3:20 PM 
(by appointment only)*
Th BHS: C-54
  noon - 2:30 PM 
(by appointment only)*
F BHS: C-54
  other times by appointment*    

       *You may email or talk to me in person to make an appointment during these times.

Class Meetings:

Days Times Room
M,W,F 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM  U331

Textbook Information:


Bell, S. (2006) Forensic Chemistry, Prentice Hall.

Text Coverage:

Chapters 1-12


Your evaluation in CHEM 4204 will be based upon the following components:  

component points
Classroom Assessments (3) @ 100 points




Comprehensive Final Exam





The grade you receive in CHEM 4204 will be based upon the following distribution:

letter grade percentage range

90% or greater


80% - 89%


70% - 79%


60% - 69%


< 60%

Mid-term Progress Report

The mid-term grade in this course which will be issued on March 6th, reflects approximately 16% of the entire course grade.  Based on this grade, students may choose to withdraw from the course and receive a grade of "W."  Students pursuing this option must fill out an official withdrawal form, available in the Office of the Registrar, by mid-term, which occurs on March 6th.

Tentative Course Schedule*:

Week Bell's Text Topic


Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Statistics, Sampling, and Data Quality


Martin Luther King Holiday                      
Chapter 2 continued
No class


Chapter 5 Instrumentation and Laboratory Techniques
1.  Gas Chromatography and TLC
2.  Mass Spectrometry
3.  FTIR and UV-VIS Spectrophotometry


  4.  Flameless Atomic Absorption
5.  Immunoassay


Assessment I**
Chapter 6

An Overview of Drugs and Pharmacology


Chapter 7 Forensic Drug Analysis I


Chapter 8 Drug Analysis II: Basic Drugs


Physical Evidence Analysis 1.  Hair
2.  Fingerprints
3.  Soil
4.  Firearms and Bullets
5.  Fibers


Spring Break  


Chapter 9 The Chemistry of Combustion and Arson


Assessment II**
Chapter 10

Combustion, Part II:  Forensic Analysis of Physical Evidence Associated with Combustion


Chapter 11 The Chemistry of Color and Colorants


Student Group Presentation Crime Investigations


Student Group Presentation
Chapter 12
Crime Investigations
Forensic Analysis of Inks and Paints


Chapter 12 continued  


Assessment III**  

 *The instructor reserves the right to alter the course schedule at any time during the semester.

**Assessments will be announced in class as least one week before each assessment.

Important Dates  
MLK Holiday January 17th-19th
Last day to withdraw with academic penalty March 6th
Spring Break March 9th - 15th
Last day of class May 4th
Final Exam TBA

Course Policies:

Instructional Approaches:

Both lecture and active learning techniques will be used to cover the content of this course.  Students will be placed on teams and will be asked to complete projects and make presentations.  Students will be expected to arrive to class prepared to participate in collaborative learning activies.


This course demands and expects approximately two hours of work per night. Reading assignments are tentatively made on this syllabus. Team members are expected to meet outside of class to complete team assignments.  The student is expected to complete assigned chapter problems upon completion of each topic in class. However, these will not be collected or graded. Completion of homework is your responsibility. Supplementary problems will also be assigned.


You are expected to attend all classes. A roll sheet will be passed around during each class period.  It is your responsibility to make sure that you sign the roll each time.  Students who miss 10 classes for any reason will receive a grade of "F" for this course.   Three days tardy equal one absence.  You will be held responsible for all announcements and material covered in lecture in addition to text, references, hand-outs and study guides. 


There will be three (3) classroom assessments and one 2-hour final (comprehensive). The assessments will be announced approximately one week in advance whenever possible and attendance is mandatory.  If a student has an excused absence on an exam day, the student's final exam percentage score will be used in place of the missed exam score.  No make-up exams will be given.

Grades will not be communicated via email or telephone.  Exams will be handed back in the next lecture period after an exam.  If absent, a student must come by during office hours to retrieve their exam.  Final exam papers may be viewed the following semester during office hours.

Academic Irregularity:

Cheating in any form will not be tolerated. Consequences may include a zero grade on the assessment instrument, or possible action by the College Judicial Board of Review.

Disruption of the Learning Environment:

Behavior which disrupts the teaching–learning process during class activities will not tolerated.  While a variety of behaviors can be disruptive in a classroom setting, more serious examples include belligerent, abusive, profane, and/or threatening behavior.  A student who fails to respond to reasonable faculty direction regarding classroom behavior and/or behavior while participating in classroom activities may be dismissed from class.  A student who is dismissed is entitled to due process and will be afforded such rights as soon as possible following dismissal.  If found in violation, a student may be administratively withdrawn and may receive a grade of WF. A more detailed description of examples of disruptive behavior and appeal procedures is provided at:

Other Class Policies:

"Students must abide by policies in the Clayton State University Student Handbook, and the Basic Undergraduate Student Responsibilities."

Last update: January 11, 2009