module specification

AS5006 - Criminalistics (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Criminalistics
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 300
64 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
236 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 10%   Case study
Practical Examination 20%   Laboratory practicals
Coursework 40%   Practical report and presentation
Unseen Examination 30%   Unseen exam (1 hour 30 minutes)
Attendance Requirement 0%   Practical Attendance
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

This module provides an introduction to the broad range of forensic science disciplines and an overview of the main practical techniques found within criminalistics, including but not limited to Crime Scene Processing, Forensic Chemistry and Biology, Human Identification, Impression Evidence, and Inter- alia DNA analysis.  

Prior learning requirements

AS4003 Cell and Molecular Biology, AS4001 Laboratory Science

Module aims

This module aims to provide students with an overview to the broad range of disciplines found within criminalistics. Students will be introduced to the legal system as it applies to forensic science investigations.  Students will develop communication and technical skills necessary for forensic scientists and they will be able to distinguish between the defined areas of criminalistics through case studies and practical work.  Areas of study will include Crime Scene Processing, Forensic Chemistry and Biology, Human Identification, Impression Evidence, and DNA Analysis.  This module aims to provide students with the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making.  The purpose is also to enable students to acquire the knowledge and theoretical understanding with skills to equip them to advance from basic
principles to the higher level in their fields of study. A degree course in forensic science emphasises the development of analytical and problem-solving skills which are very relevant to a wide range of employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors. There are significant demands for forensic science skills from law enforcement organisations (police, customs, environmental health) and investigatory agencies.


Introduction to criminalistics and types of evidence.  Interpretation and analysis of data resulting in conclusions based on the evidence presented.
The UK legal system: the role of the Crown Prosecution Service, Forensic Science and the Law, Crime Scene Roles and Responsibilities.
Introduction to DNA Analysis: History and Theory of DNA; Techniques of DNA Profiling; DNA Typing Techniques used to link individuals to biological evidence.
Forensic Serology techniques used to characterise and individualise biological evidence.
The role of analytical chemistry in forensic science for Drug Identification, Toxicology, Questioned Document Analysis, Firearms, Frauds and Forgeries, and Fires and Explosives.
Nature of Blood Stains and Blood Pattern Analysis; Blood Spatter Reconstruction.
Characteristics of Trace Evidence (hair, fibre, paint) and varying analytical techniques used in forensic examination of samples.
Fundamental principles of and analytical techniques for Mark and Impression Evidence including Fingerprints, Footwear Marks and Toolmarks.

Learning and teaching

The module is delivered via lectures, tutorials and practical sessions.  Tutorials will allow informal-teacher led discussions of the issues raised in the lectures and are also used to allow practice in the key skills of communication, interpretation and analysis through case studies.  Practical sessions are designed to allow the students to put the theory from lectures into practice utilising real-time experimental techniques and scenarios.  The remainder of the time allocated will be used for self-directed learning.  This module is supported by a website on WebLearn.

Learning outcomes

1. Categorise disciplines within criminalistics.
2. Demonstrate and applyknowledge of the collection, preservation, analysis and interpretation of 
evidence types.
3. Analyse forensic science case studies.
4. Operate effectively and efficiently within the confines of using scientific equipment to a good  standard.
5. Demonstrate the ability to understand Scientific Method and to apply scientific data, concepts and models to forensic analysis.
6. Applying biological and chemical analytical techniques whilst illustrating their advantages and disadvantages.

Assessment strategy

The module will be assessed summatively by means of tests and coursework. 
To pass the module, students need to achieve a minimum aggregate mark of 40%.  There will be an attendance requirement for the practical sessions. Students who do not attend the practical sessions will fail the module. Reassessment for the practical sessions will be offered in the next academic year.

If the module is passed on reassessment, then the maximum mark awarded will be 40%.

Component Marks Learning outcomes
Case study 10% 1, 2, 3
Laboratory practicals 20% 2, 4 ,5, 6
Practical report and presentation 40% 2, 4, 5, 6
Unseen exam 30% 2, 3, 5



Fisher, B.A.J. (2003) Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation, 7th Ed. CRC Press.
Jackson, A. and Jackson, J. (2011) Forensic Science.  3rd Ed. Prentice Hall.
James, S. H. and Nordby, J. J. (2009). Forensic Science: an introduction to scientific and investigative techniques.  3rd Ed.  Boca Raton. London. CRC.
Langford, A. Dean, J. Reed, R. Holmes, D. Weyers, J. and Jones, A.  (2010) Practical Skills in Forensic Science.  2nd Ed.  London.  Pearson Education.
Pepper, I.  (2010) Crime Scene Investigation: Methods and Procedures.  2nd Ed.  Open University Press.
Saferstein, R. (2011) Criminalistics: an introduction to forensic science.  10th Int. Ed.  London.  Pearson Education. 
White, P. (2010)  Crime Scene to Court:  The Essentials of Forensic Science.  3rd Ed.  Cambridge.  RSC Publishing

Journal of Forensic Sciences.
Science &Justice : Journal of the Forensic Science Society.
The following title is available from Science Direct (e-journal only):
Forensic Science International