Chemistry of Explosive Materials


This is a 3-credit course.


The course provides information on the range of explosive compounds and mixtures that may be encountered in incidents involving national security. It also covers improvised explosive devices, security screening applications, bomb scene management, and the forensic recovery and analysis of explosive residues. The course concludes with case studies designed to illustrate the concepts covered in the preceding modules.

This course is taught by Western Sydney University as part of a collaborative venture between the University of Florida and Western Sydney University, Australia.


Module Topic
Module 1 General Nature of Energetic Materials
Module 2 Chemistry of Organic Explosives
Module 3 Chemistry of Peroxide-based Explosives
Module 4 Improvised Devices
Module 5 Screening Technologies
Module 6 Forensic Analysis of Explosives
Module 7 Bomb Scene Mangement
Module 8 Case Studies

At the completion of this course, students are expected to be able t

  • Understand the chemistry of organic and inorganic explosive compounds and explosive mixtures;
  • Recognise the significant range of materials that are available for criminal use and how these materials are classified;
  • Explain the general synthetic routes employed for the manufacture of organic explosive compounds;
  • Describe the main components of an IED and the types of evidence that may be present in primary fragmentation;
  • List the range of technologies currently employed for the screening of individuals and objects (such as cargo and baggage) for explosive residues and explosive devices;
  • Understand general post-blast examination techniques, including the application of on-site testing regimes, the collection of debris, and the swabbing of items for explosive residues; and
  • Describe the recommended guidelines for the forensic identification of bulk (intact) explosives and post-blast explosive residues.

Required Materials

No required materials.