Analytical Sciences

Module aims

This module will describe the main techniques for quantitative chemical analysis of molecules. It will also enable students to understand statistics and experimental errors, and the main analytical techniques and instrumentation. In addition, it will enable students to describe and understand the main techniques for analytical separation.

Learning outcomes

Learning Outcomes - Knowledge and Understanding

  • Describe the principles and applications of the main analytical chemistry techniques
  • Describe the principles of the main chromatography techniques and their applications in biomedical engineering

Learning Outcomes - Intellectual Skills

  • Select the best analytical chemistry methods for a given sample and application
  • Choose the best suited chromatographic techniques to separate/isolate molecules
  • Combine information from multiple analytical methods to identify a sample

Learning Outcomes - Practical Skills

Design and build analytical instrumentation

Learning Outcomes - Transferable Skills

  • Apply theory learned in class to solve practical problems
  • Critically interpret analytical data using suitable statistical tools

Module syllabus

History and outline of the analytical sciences

A brief outline of the history of analytical science, and a broad overview of what the course will be about. Discussion will include how these techniques are used in the real world for different applications.

Optical methods

Microscopy, spectroscopy and many other types of technique in which materials and samples are studies by their interaction with electromagnetic radiation


An overview of magnetic resonance techniques, with a focus on using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to determine structural information about a sample.

Electrochemical techniques

Many materials can change oxidation state in response to an applied potential, and the potential at which this occurs, as well as the recorded current, can provide useful information on the system under test.

Scanning probe techniques

Imaging nanoscale features can be done with extremely sharp tips and other nanoscale probes. A few examples will be highlighted, and the information they can give will be discussed.

Electron Microscopy

Electron microscopy uses focussed beams of electrons to image a sample at nanoscale resolution. The design of these microscopes and what information they provide will be elaborated upon.

Chromatography and Separation Techniques

Analysing a sample can be greatly simplified if it can be separated into its constitutent components. There are a variety of ways of achieving this goal, and a prominent selection will be highlighted.

Mass Spectrometry

Mass spectrometry first breaks a molecule into fragments, and then analyses these fragments by their mass-to-charge ratio. Some methods for performing mass spectrometry will be given and some guidelines will be offered for analysis of mass spectra.

Polymerase Chain Reaction

The polymerase chain reaction has won a Nobel prize and is critical to many biological fields. Some details on the history of the technique will be provided, its use for DNA amplification, and some thoughts offered on why it is so successful as an analytical technique.

Methods for analysing specific samples

Some techniques are designed to work on a specific subset of analytes. Some of these will be discussed, such as DNA sequencing and immunostaining.


BE2-HBMOLE2 - Biomolecular Engineering 2

Basic calculus (for solving quantum mechanics problems) Take a Fourier transform Trigonometry and vectors (work with vectors in the complex plane, work out distances and angles in simple constructions) Complex numbers and Euler's Formula (for working with complex wave equations, and describing pulse sequences in NMR) Matrices and linear algebra (to perform separation of 1D and 2D signals)

Teaching methods

Teaching Methods
Labs: 18 hours


●  Written exam:  70% weighting
    Rubrics: 3 compulsory questions, multiple sub-sections per question.
     Outline answers to past papers will be available

●  Multiple lab reports: 30% weighting

Feedback: Lab reports will be graded, and comments included where appropriate. Feedback will be provided within 2 weeks of the submission deadline.

Reading list

Module leaders

Dr Christopher Rowlands