module specification

BE5006 - Criminalistics (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Criminalistics
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Human Sciences
Total study hours 300
224 hours Guided independent study
76 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 15%   Laboratory practicals
Coursework 10%   Time constrained case study (40 minutes)
Coursework 35%   Practical report and presentation
Unseen Examination 40%   Unseen exam (90 minutes)
Running in 2021/22

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

This module aims to provide students with an introduction to the broad range of forensic science disciplines and an overview of the main practical techniques found within criminalistics.  Areas of study will include an introduction to the legal system as it applies to forensic science investigations, crime scene processing, forensic chemistry and biology, human identification, impression evidence, and DNA Analysis. 

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. 

The aims of this module are aligned with the qualification descriptors within the Quality Assurance Agency’s, Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.

This module aims to provide students with the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the application of personal responsibility and decision-making.  The purpose also is 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.

Prior learning requirements

BC4001, BC4003


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. LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6
Introduction to DNA analysis: History and Theory of DNA; Techniques of DNA Profiling; DNA Typing Techniques used to link individuals to biological evidence.
The application of entomology in forensic investigations.
The role of analytical chemistry in forensic science for drug identification, toxicology, Questioned document analysis, firearms and fires and explosives.
Nature of blood stains and blood pattern analysis.
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.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

The module is delivered via lectures, tutorials, workshops 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 web based VLE (WebLearn) which will be used to reinforce and test student understanding with access to additional learning resources.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1. categorise and distinguish disciplines within criminalistics.
2. demonstrate and apply knowledge of the collection, preservation, analysis and interpretation of evidence types.
3. apply scientific knowledge to 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. demonstrate an understanding of the British Legal System.

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                            (15%)         2, 4 ,5, 6
Practical report and presentation       (35%)         2, 4, 5, 6
Unseen exam                                         (40%)         2, 3, 5


Jackson, A. and Jackson, J. (2016) Forensic Science. Prentice Hall. (CORE)
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. 
Smith, L. and Bond, J. (2015) Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. Palgrave.
White, P. (2016) Crime Scene to Court:  The Essentials of Forensic Science.  Cambridge.  RSC Publishing. (CORE)

Journals: Journal of Forensic Sciences.
Science & Justice: Journal of the Forensic Science Society.
Electronic Databases:
Forensic Science International