Forensic Science and Criminal Justice

Module code: CR3013

How have forensic science practices developed historically? How have the most recent advances in forensic evidence technology impacted the interpretation of forensic evidence?

During this module you’ll be using theoretical and conceptual frameworks to understand how forensic science contributes to the criminal justice system. This will involve thinking about how science contributes to the law and the legal and ethical implications of recent technological advances in forensic science practice. You’ll be investigating some of the technological advances used by the law such as DNA profiling, but also the more recent scepticism about the infallibility of some forensic science practices, and the interpretation of physical evidence in the courtroom.

Common forensic techniques will also be explored and you’ll be encouraged to think critically about the underlying principles of physical evidence, and how it contributes to police investigations. Forensic science has also found its way into popular fiction, and forms the basis for some of the most popular television shows in the world (e.g. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation).

The module will consider the impact that this has on the public’s perception of forensic science, and how this might play a role in jury decision making in the courtroom. You’ll also explore some of the ethical and legal issues associated with forensic science practice, such as ethical implications of DNA databases, admissibility of evidence, ‘junk’ science and miscarriages of justice.

Learning

  • 20 hours of lectures
  • 5 hours of seminars
  • 4 hours of practical classes and workshops
  • 0.5 hour tutorial
  • 120.5 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Essay, 2,000 words (100%)