Forensic Science Course

Forensic Science Course Syllabus Content

The Forensic Science Course Modules

1. The crime scene: How to collect and protect evidence


  • Discovering a crime scene
  • How to secure a crime scene
  • Pollution of the site through rain, sea water, oil, and human activity
  • Friction ridges and impressions: shoes, tyres and tools
  • Blood spatter patterns
  • Firearms patterns
  • Soil samples – was the victim moved?
  • Locating fingerprints and traces of materials
  • Taking forensic photographs
  • Major incidents. Massacres

2. Criminal mindset, and criminal behaviour


  • The psychology of the criminal
  • Psychological profiling
  • The main causes of violent crime
  • Lie detectors

3. What’s it all about?


  • A short history of forensics
  • Breakthroughs in forensics
  • Who does what in forensics?
  • How forensics is used to convict criminals (and protect the innocent)

4. Fingerprints: simply unique


  • Where fingerprints appear in the crime scene.
  • Taking fingerprints from the crime scene
  • Classification of fingerprints.
  • The structure of the skin
  • Sweat
  • How to find and then enhance latent (or hidden) fingerprints

5. Fire and arson


  • How fires start – deliberate and accidental
  • Explosions. Tests for Explosives
  • Burns – the effect on the body
  • Risks of entering a fire damaged building
  • Risks of entering a building which is on fire

6. The body


  • How to identify a dead body
  • Scars, marks, dental records
  • The forensic autopsy: understanding how people die
  • Establishing the time of death
  • Rigor mortis
  • Pooling of blood in the corpse (lividity)
  • Traumatic injuries and deaths
  • Decomposition, flies, and body-eating insects
  • Skeletal remains
  • Reconstructing faces in clay

7. Injuries


  • Penetrating/perforating injuries. Open wounds
  • Puncture (needle etc)
  • Penetration. Knife wounds. Entrance and exit wounds. Gunshot
  • Non-fatal injuries: incisions, lacerations, abrasions
  • Head, chest abdomen wounds
  • Non penetrating injuries. Closed wounds: contusions, haematomas, crushing injuries
  • Defensive wounds
  • Punches, kicks – causing bone fractures, organ failure and Gunshot wounds. Entrance and exit wounds
  • Crushing injury. Hit by a car
  • Struck by fist or blunt weapons. Head injury, chest injury, fractures
  • Bites
  • Torture murder: for punishment, interrogation or just for kicks

8. Other causes of death, and evidence of harm


  • Electrocution
  • Asphyxiation: smothering, compressive asphyxia
  • Drowning
  • Toxic gases
  • Burns
  • Rape
  • Strangulation
  • Hanging. Suicide
  • Ligature marks

9. Bodily fluids


  • Blood. Bloodstains
  • Saliva
  • Semen
  • Tests
  • What DNA can tell us
  • Taking samples from a corpse
  • Taking samples from a live person

10. Drugs and poisons


  • Drugs: classification of drugs. What they do, and why people take them
  • Signs of drugs in live people
  • How drugs (or impurities) kill people. Tests for drugs on dead people
  • Poisons. How they kill people. How they're administered to unknowing or unwilling recipients
  • How to test for poisons in dead people

11. Analysing trace evidence


  • How is trace evidence analysed? What can it prove. Risks in using trace evidence. Examples of where trace evidence was helpful
  • Hairs and Fibres
  • Hairs and animal fibres
  • Vegetable and inorganic fibres
  • Man-made fibres
  • Pollen
  • Paint
  • Firearms Evidence.
  • Gun Shot Residues testing
  • Explosives. Griess tests
  • Fingerprints (covered in detail in another module)
  • Glass
  • Paint chips
  • Soils
  • Botanical materials
  • Volatile hydrocarbons (arson evidence)
  • Other traces

12. Analysing documents, and the computer


  • Currency forgery
  • Art forgery
  • Graphology – who wrote what?
  • False sets of accounts
  • Computer crime
  • Finding deleted files

13. Presenting evidence to a jury


  • The expert witness
  • Visual aids, videos, still photographs
  • Catalogued evidence (exhibits)
  • Audio recordings, transcripts of conversations
  • Maps
  • Handwriting
  • Taking the jury to the crime scene

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