Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis

Ivo Leito, Lauri Jalukse, Irja Helm, University of Tartu

Short description of the course

This is an introductory course on estimation of measurement uncertainty, specifically related to chemical analysis (analytical chemistry). The course gives the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of measurement uncertainty estimation and introduces two principal approaches to measurement uncertainty estimation – the ISO GUM modeling approach (the “bottom-up” or modeling approach) and the single-lab validation approach as implemented by Nordtest (the “top-down” or Nordtest approach). The course contains lectures, practical exercises and numerous tests for self-testing.

In spite of being introductory, the course intends to offer sufficient knowledge and skills for carrying out uncertainty estimation for most of the common chemical analyses in routine laboratory environment. The techniques for which there are examples or exercises include acid-base titration, Kjeldahl nitrogen determination, UV-Vis spectrophotometry, atomic absorption spectroscopy and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS). It is important to stress, however, that for successful measurement uncertainty estimation experience (both in analytical chemistry as such and also in uncertainty estimation) is crucial and this can be acquired only through practice.

The materials of this course can also be useful for people who do not intend to follow the full course but only want to find answers to some specific questions.

Required preliminary knowledge

Introductory level knowledge of analytical chemistry is required. More advanced knowledge of analytical chemistry and introductory knowledge of mathematical statistics is an advantage.

Study outcomes

The student who has successfully passed the course knows:

  • the main concepts related to measurement results and measurement uncertainty, including their application to chemical analysis;
  • the main mathematical concepts and tools in uncertainty estimation;
  • the main measurement uncertainty sources in chemical analysis;
  • the main approaches for measurement uncertainty estimation. The student who has successfully passed the course is able to:
  • decide what data are needed for uncertainty estimation, understand the meaning of the available data and decide whether the available data are sufficient;
  • select the uncertainty estimation approach suitable for the available data; qunatify the uncertainty contributions of the relevant uncertainty sources using the available data;
  • carry out estimation of uncertainty using the main approaches of uncertainty estimation.

    Organization of the course material

    The course (overall volume 1 ECTS) is organized in 12 sections, of which some are in turn split into smaller subsections. The following parts are found in the sections:

    The sections (and also many subsection) start with a brief introduction stating the main topic(s) and study outcomes of the section.

    The main topic of the respective section is explained in a short video lecture. The lecture is followed by a textual part. This text is in most cases meant to complement, not substitute the lecture (although in some cases the contents of the lecture are also repeated in some extent). It rather gives additional explanations and addresses some additional topics that were not covered by the lecture.

    Most sections end with a self-test, which enables to test the acquired knowledge and skills. The tests contain questions, as well as calculation problems. The self-tests are on one hand meant for the students to monitor his/her progress. On the other hand, however, they also promote thinking and provide (by the feedback of the questions) additional knowledge about measurement uncertainty estimation in different practical situations. So, the self-tests are an intrinsic component of the course and it is strongly recommended to take all of them.

    If you consistently get a message "Server not found" when attempting to watch videos then with high probability the reason is the firewall of your local network. The local network administrators should enable outcoming connections from your network via port 1935. More specifically it is necessary to access the server rtmp://

    An additional possibility is to watch the videos in YouTube via channel "ESTIMATION OF MEASUREMENT UNCERTAINTY IN CHEMICAL ANALYSIS". Direct link:


    Throughout the course there are numerous self-tests for enabling the student to test his/her knowledge and skills in specific topics. Each test is graded as a percentage (100% corresponding to correctly answering all questions and correctly solving all problems).

  • Dates:
    • 3 March 2014, 6 weeks
    Course properties:
    • Free:
    • Paid:
    • Certificate:
    • MOOC:
    • Video:
    • Audio:
    • Email-course:
    • Language: English Gb


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