Skip to main content

Study information

Forensic Science

Module titleForensic Science
Module codeBIO2066
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Katie Solomon (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module, delivered over term 2, will provide you with a scientific understanding of the detection of crime through a series of expert witness lectures supported by lectures on the scientific principles. We have an extensive programme of expert witness lectures from professionals working in the field nationally. In collaboration with the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, we have lectures from crime scene investigators, a forensic pathologist, a criminal barrister, a terminal wound ballistics expert, forensic psycho-profiling, and DNA fingerprint experts; we also hold a firearms workshop to provide hands-on experience. The module is an excellent test of logical reasoning with foundations in scientific methods.


Students with no scientific training are encouraged to take BIO2068 Forensic Science instead of BIO2066; BIO2068 is the 30-credit version of BIO2066 and introduces all of the relevant science in the first term.


Course content warning:

The content of BIO2066/BIO2068 Forensic Science contains images, depictions and descriptions of murder, sexual assault, self-harm, violence and death that some students may find offensive and/or traumatizing.

Material of a graphic nature will be presented in pre-recorded material to be watched at home and also during in-person sessions.

This content is integral to the module and should be considered when making module choices.


Accessibility statement

Some sessions are not recorded, but notes will be uploaded after the session.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to develop your ability to conduct analysis of theoretical crime scene situations and report your evaluation clearly and effectively using critical analysis of outside literature.

The module will develop your ability to think critically, analyse information, challenge and problem solve in the context of crime scene investigation. Through presentations from visiting speakers representing a wide range of professions including Crime Scene Managers, Barristers at Law, pathologists, Forensic laboratory Scientists, we aim to expose you to different ways of working, thinking, approaching problems and applying logical scientific analysis to crime scene situations.

Many of these employability skills are applicable to future careers in a variety of professions.

You will be introduced to the scientific principles of investigating evidence using examples such as:

  • Fibres, glass, gunshot residue, explosives, paint, drugs, DNA, blood, hair, soil

You will be given a theoretical introduction in how the following analytical techniques are used in forensic investigation:

  • Presumptive tests
  • Elemental analysis
  • Molecular spectroscopy
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Microscopic techniques

Through presentations from visiting speakers you will understand the process of recognition, enhancement,

preservation, recovery, scientific analysis, interpretation, evaluation and presentation of evidence in criminal investigation. 

We will also teach you how to apply your knowledge to construct a sequence of events and a crime scene map from presented evidence. You will be guided how to marshal a body of facts and construct a logical, scientifically justified, critical analysis of scientific evidence.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Linking ideas from different sources to build and appraise arguments regarding recognition, processing, recording, preservation, recovery, analysis and interpretation of evidence at and from crime scenes.
  • 2. Drawing evidence-based and independent conclusions in analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence.
  • 3. Construct logical arguments and effectively communicate theories in different formats, including written and graphical form.
  • 4. Interpret written instruction to create time and spatial reconstructions of complex events with attention to scientific detail.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Solving real life problems through application of scientific principles.
  • 6. Working fluently and securely across a range of digital tools, platforms and applications to manage, interpret and share information
  • 7. Providing constructive, task-appropriate peer feedback
  • 8. Actively engaging in groupwork (i.e. communication, motivation, decision making, awareness, responsibility and management skills including setting and working to shared deadlines).

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Adopting professional attributes appropriate to the working environment
  • 10. Creative thinking
  • 11. Employing different communication styles and media types

Syllabus plan

Teaching will be provided in a blended format. Scientific principles will be introduced in pre-recorded lectures, then these principles will be applied to forensic scenarios in in-person synchronous sessions. In-person lectures by guest speakers will provide first-hand experience of professionals working within the fields of forensic investigation.

Three workshops will provide the opportunity to work through an example case study and use peer assessment to gain awareness of the marking criteria and style of writing for case studies.

One workshop will provide experience of ballistics and firearms through collaboration with Devon and Cornwall Police..

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22In-person lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Workshops
Guided Independent Study118Lecture consolidation, completion of formative quizzes and associated reading, coursework preparation.
Guided Independent Study6Formative Case study preparation for workshops

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions and MCQs aligned to lecture content1, 2, 5, 9Online
Peer marking of formative case studies during workshops2 x 1 hourAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Infographic401 A4 page5, 6, 9, 11Written and oral
Case study (groupwork)601,500 words1-6, 8-11Written and oral

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
InfographicInfographic (40%)5, 6, 9, 11August Ref/Def
Case study (groupwork)Case study (individual) (60%)1-6, 8-11August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons that are approved by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. If deferred, the format and timing of the re-assessment for each of the summative assessments is detailed in the table above ('Details of re-assessment'). The mark given for a deferred assessment will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral - if you have failed the module (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) and the module cannot be condoned, you will be required to complete a re-assessment for each of the failed components on the module. The format and timing of the re-assessment for each of the summative assessments is detailed in the table above ('Details of re-assessment'). If you pass the module following re-assessment, your module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Criminalistics Richard Saferstein, 7th Edition (or later) Prentice-Hall, USA (2001), ISBN 0-13-013827-4

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Indicative basic reading list:

  • Criminalistics, Richard Saferstein, 7th Edition (or later) Prentice-Hall, USA (2001), ISBN 0-13-013827-4
  • Forensic Science, Andrew R. Jackson and Julie M. Jackson, 3rd Edition 9or later) Pearson Higher,(2016), ISBN 1292088230


Web-based and electronic resources

Key words search

Forensic science, crime scene investigation, analytical science

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

BIO1333 Fundamental Principles for Bioscientists

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date