Separation Science Portfolio

NMISA Online Courses are not intended to be an imposition on students, nor to distract them from their daily work duties. They are courses which can be completed by the student either at home, or during quiet periods at work. To prevent unnecessary delays, NMISA has set time limits in which the courses are expected to be completed and examinations submitted. Extensions can be motivated, but generally it is advantageous to both student and employer to finish the work timeously. These time limits are very generous, and should not impose on the serious student.

Once enrolled, students have access to a Course Manual, which can be printed and used as a study guide, and to the online presentations which consist of a set of slides complete with audio. The Courses consist of differing numbers of modules, and each module has its own presentation. Once the student is confident that he/she understands the material, the online examination can be attempted. Successful completion of the exam results in the issue of a certificate. Should the examination not be completed successfully, a second attempt may be made without extra costs, within three weeks of the first attempt. If the second attempt is unsuccessful, the student will need to reregister if he/she wishes to attempt the course and the examination again.


The object of this course is to teach students how to use the systems correctly, how to develop methods successfully, and how to understand and interpret results. This will be achieved through a better understanding of how the instruments work, their strengths and limitations, and the basic fundamentals of the techniques. It is aimed at relatively inexperienced users to develop their skills and understanding, at lab managers who may be responsible for such equipment but lack formal training in the techniques, and at more experienced users who want a better knowledge of the instruments they use. This will be handled in depth in a simple and easy to understand set of online presentations.

The object of this course is to teach students how to use the systems correctly, how to develop methods successfully, and how to understand and interpret results. This will be achieved through a better understanding of how the instruments work, their strengths and limitations, and the basic fundamentals of the techniques. It is aimed at relatively inexperienced users to develop their skills and understanding, at lab managers who may be responsible for such equipment but lack formal training in the techniques, and at more experienced users who want a better knowledge of the instruments they use. This will be handled in depth in a simple and easy to understand set of online presentations

Quantitation by GC and GC-MS, takes an in depth look at some of the more common quantitation protocols, explains their use and how to successfully put them into practice. The aim of the course is to give students an advanced understanding of the requirements for accurate quantitation, how to choose between approaches, how to use them correctly, how to ensure the developed methods successfully solve lab problems, and how to better understand and interpret results. The course is aimed at more experienced users, who wish to extend their skills and understanding, and at laboratory managers who want a better knowledge of the techniques they supervise. The course covers: Necessary method development for accurate quantitation using GC and GC-MS; A logical and systematic explanation of the different quantitation methods (internal normalization, external standard, internal standard, standard addition) and the pitfalls which may be encountered using them;

Response factors and relative response factors; Isotope dilution techniques, the most efficient and accurate method for low level quantification using MS; Interpretation and reporting of results.

The object of this course is to give students an advanced understanding of gas chromatography, how the instruments work, how to use them correctly, how to ensure that developed methods successfully solve lab problems, and how to better understand and interpret results. This will be achieved through a better knowledge of how the instruments function, their strengths and limitations, coupled to a more advanced understanding of the theory behind important applications of the techniques. It is aimed at more experienced users, who wish to extend their skills and understanding, and at laboratory managers who want a better knowledge of the techniques they supervise. The course will examine in detail the following: Improving GC separations through carrier gas flow considerations and effective oven temperature programming; Correct liner and column selection will be discussed, paying attention to selectivity, efficiency and resolution; Inlet optimization will be discussed in detail, showing how different factors contribute to improved chromatography; The theoretical plate theory of chromatography and the rate theory will be discussed as models to better understand the way separations can be improved.

The object of this course is to give students an advanced understanding of mass spectrometry, how the instruments work, how to use them correctly, how to ensure that developed methods successfully solve lab problems, and how to better understand and interpret results. This will be achieved through a better knowledge of how the instruments function, their strengths and limitations, coupled to a more advanced understanding of the theory behind important applications of the techniques. It is aimed at more experienced users, who wish to extend their skills and understanding, and at laboratory managers who want a better knowledge of the techniques they supervise. The course will examine in detail the following: The mass spectrometer as detector, how it works and the information it provides, including the most common ionization methods; Mass resolution will be discussed, atomic mass, atomic number and isotopes will be explained highlighting the difference between integral and exact mass. The advantages to be obtained through accurate mass measurement will be demonstrated through suitable examples; Types of mass spectrometers will be discussed (quadrupoles, sector systems, time of flight, ion trap: how they work, their capabilities and limitations); Selected ion techniques (SIM, MS/MS, SRM and MRM) will be explained in detail with examples demonstrating their outcomes; Isotope dilution techniques will be highlighted as the most efficient and accurate method for low level quantification using MS.


Sample preparation is a fundamental part of the analysis of organic compounds, both for identification and quantitation. Many different sample types have to be handled as well as numerous target analytes with different physical and chemical properties. No one method of sample preparation is suitable for all these combinations. The course examines the most common methods of sample preparation, their strengths and weaknesses and their common application areas. Comprehensive explanations are given on how the techniques work, and where necessary theoretical aspects are examined. The course covers: liquid-liquid extraction, solid-liquid extraction, solid phase extraction, pressurised liquid extraction, dispersive extraction (including QuEChERS), headspace and solid phase microextraction (SPME), acid-base extraction, microwave assisted extraction, supercritical fluid extraction, ultrasound extraction and gel permeation chromatography, as well as a short section on preparing the sample for analysis. The course consists of six modules, which can be studied by students at their own pace.