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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 10/01/2023 12:36:46

Title of Module: Fires & Explosives

Code: CHEM09011 SCQF Level: 9
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:Callum  McHugh

Summary of Module

Basic thermodynamics will be revised and problems involving Hess’s Law will be used to illustrate simple thermochemical calculations. The thermochemistry of explosive materials will be studied in detail and the empirical rules used to predict the products of explosive reactions will be introduced: determination of oxygen balance heat of explosion, volume of gaseous product explosive power and power index for explosives will be illustrated. Recent developments in the area of explosives, such as green primary explosives and energetic polymers for explosive formulations, will be discussed. The analysis of explosives and their residues will be introduced. In addition methods for the detection of hidden explosives bulk detection methods and vapour detection methods will be described.

An introduction will be given to the chemistry and physics of fires and the fire triangle and tetrahedron. The classes of fires and the development of fires will be studied together with the forensic investigation of fires. This will cover topics such as safety at the fire scene, excavation and sampling techniques, location of seat of fire, various ignition sources including heating and cooking appliances. An introduction to electrical fires is given including supply from source to domestic and commercial properties, common causes and identification of electrical ignition at fire scenes.

The graduate attributes relevant to this module are given below:

  • Academic:   Critical thinker, analytical, enquiring, knowledgeable, digitally literate, problem solver, autonomous, incisive, innovative
  • Personal:   Effective communicator, influential, motivated, team player
  • Professional:   Collaborative, research-minded, enterprising, ambitious, driven 

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:
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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1


Term 2check markTerm 3


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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Demonstrate an integrated understanding of the basic chemical nature and characteristics of fires and explosives, and apply this to the location of seat of fire and potential ignition sources

L2. Display a critical appreciation of the aspects of thermodynamics associated with explosive reactions and fires

L3. Demonstrate an appreciation of the specialised methods employed in the examination of fires, and in the detection and analysis of explosives, and an awareness of aspects such as safety and protocols at the scene

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 9.

Broad integrated knowledge of the chemical and thermochemical properties of fuels and explosive materials, and of the classes of fires and their investigation.

A critical understanding of a selection of the methods used to analyse for explosives and their post explosive residues

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 9.

Carrying out a detailed calculation of the thermochemical parameters used to describe some properties of fuels and explosive materials.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 9.

Integrating information from various sources to analyse critically fire scenes and explosive materials.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 9.

Bringing information together from a variety of sources, using information retrieval systems, and appropriate IT skills, to produce written reports for assignments and laboratory exercises.
Using appropriate numerical skills to evaluate thermodynamic data in relation to fires and explosives

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 9.

Working effectively with others in an investigative environment

Identifying and addressing individual learning needs in the subject area associated with the module.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Other:CHEM08004 Chemical Analysis & Evaluation or CHEM08001 Physical Chemistry 2, or, suitable appropriate background
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
This module covers a wide variety of theoretical, conceptual and practical areas, which require a range of knowledge and skills to be displayed and exercised. Delivery of its syllabus content therefore involves a diversity of teaching and assessment methods suitable to the learning outcomes of the module; these include formal lectures, structured tutorials (work closely integrated with the lecture material), practical exercises to develop skills in the interpretation of spectroscopic information and in incident investigation, completion and submission of written coursework making use of appropriate forms of IT and VLE, and independent study
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery24
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity12
Laboratory/Practical Demonstration/Workshop12
Independent Study152
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

J. Yinon and S. Zitrin, Moden Methods and Applications in the Analysis of Explosives, Wiley (1996).ISBN:0-471-96562-6.

J. Yinon. Forensic And Environmental Detection of Explosives. Wiley (1999). ISBN:0-471-98371-3

J. Akhavan. The Chemistry of Explosives. RSC 3rd Edition (2011). ISBN:978-1-84973-330-4

P. White. Crime Scene to Court: The Essentials of Forensic Science. RSC 2nd Edition(2004) ISBN: 0-85404-656-9

E. Beveridge, Forensic Investigation of Explosions, CRC Press (2011) ISBN 9781420087253

D. Drysdale, An Introduction to Fire Dynamics, Wiley 3rd Edition (2011)

M.Pickett, Explosives Identification Guide. Publisher: Delmar Learning; 1 edition (1998). ISBN: 0-76680-490-9

J.D. DeHaan, Kirk’s Fire Investigation, New Jersey, 5th edition (2002) ISBN: 0-13060-458-5

J.G. Quintiere, Principles of Fire Behavior, Delmar (1997) ISBN: 0-82737-732-0

R.A. Cooke and R.H.Ide, Principles of Fire Investigation, The Insitute of Fire Engineers (1996) ISBN: 0-90334-507-2

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardPhysical Sciences
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelPhysical Sciences
ModeratorDr Jorge Chacon
External ExaminerM Paterson
Accreditation Details
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Final Written Exam - 50 %
Continuous Assessment - 50 %
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Unseen closed book (standard)check markcheck markcheck mark502

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Essaycheck markcheck markcheck mark300
Laboratory/ Clinical/ Field notebook  check mark100
Review/ Article/ Critique/ Papercheck markcheck markcheck mark100
Combined Total For All Components100% 2 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
This module is suitable for any student with appropriate chemistry background, however it should be noted that in order for you to complete this module the laboratory element of coursework will require to be undertaken, disability support can be provided where necessary, consequently, if disability support is needed to complete this part of the module, then the University’s Health and Safety Officer should be consulted to make sure that safety in the laboratory is not compromised.

Current University Policy on Equality and Diversity applies.
UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.