Accredited Level 3 Diploma in Forensic Science
There has been increased interest in this subject due to the rise of television programmes covering police and crime scene investigations, and these, as well as actual case study material, provide useful material for this course. Forensic science is essentially the application of scientific principles for the resolution of legal disputes or as legal evidence or to prove/ disprove a crime. The aim is to provide impartial information which can be used to establish whether a crime has been committed and to evaluate physical evidence of a crime. This course provides a broad overview of the principles and techniques of forensic science, how evidence is analysed and interpreted, and how it is presented in court processes by following UK legislation.
Unit 1: Role of forensic science and the crime scene
Forensic science is defined as the application of scientific techniques and technology to establish facts relating to a crime. It involves learning knowledge about the recovery of evidence and establishing the events of a crime using intelligence information. The process is then taken to the laboratory. Quality assurance and maintaining integrity of the crime scene, use of an audit trail and evidence recovery is discussed since it can affect the outcome in court. Many of the tasks in crime scene processing can be tedious and mundane, but the recording the crime scene must be done professionally and accurately and are covered in depth. Modern computerised techniques aid in gathering and interpreting evidence, and how the recovery of physical and digital evidence is done is explored.
Unit 2: Evidence: trace and contact
Key principles and practices are covered so that recovery of trace and contact evidence of materials from the crime scene is done accurately. The factors and issues that affect how evidence is gathered in various processes such as finger prints identification, its classification and use in latent material is discussed. How the body leaves evidence and how it can be assessed is explored by looking at our anatomy such as hair growth, different body fluids, DNA-evidence and how finger-prints form. Other evidence explored in this module includes footwear impressions, bite, tool, paint, soil samples, tyre marks, and textile evidence. Several key cases and how they were influenced and solved by forensic evidence are discussed.
Unit 3: Body fluids and DNA
The main body fluids that can be analysed are discussed in the background of how and where they are produced in the body. The processes and analytical techniques used are complicated and up-to-date knowledge and experience in e.g. Blood and bloodstain pattern analysis is studied. People are unique, but some properties of fluids are very common so how to differentiate, identify any errors, and use this in possible identification is explored. Saliva and semen analysis, and DNA profiling, the involvement of mathematics in analysis is investigated.
Unit 4: Toxicology
The legal classification of commonly abused drugs and poisons is that they produce a damaging and lethal effect. How they affect the body is covered in order to learn how to assess possible misuse of different substances and chemicals. The methods of analysis of toxic substances is explored for a range of common drugs and poisons. Often harm is done by drugs which maybe be perfectly acceptable, e.g. prescribed drugs which can do harm when misused e.g. in the case of Harold Shipman who used medicines to overdose his patients. The routes of uptake and elimination of toxic substances is considered.
Unit 5: Documents as evidence
The skills and expertise with appropriate technology needed in examining documents as evidence is crucial when presenting material to the courts. This section begins to teach ways of analysing handwritten documents, made easier by the advancement of technology e.g. electron microscope, and the difficulties involved in the process. Practical activities and investigation of actual cases, such as that of Chris Cotter and analysis of some of his Hate mail, are given to help with practise of e.g. signature analysis and analysis of word-processed documents and copies. Other materials investigated are printed material e.g. [fake] passports and money, analysis of inks, paper and paper folds, tears, and anomalies involved in such techniques.
Unit 6: Firearms
The use of firearms in the UK (Europe) remains low when compared to other countries, but their use is increasing. The type of firearms and their attached components like silencer is covered here as their examination and that of the aftermath of the shooting scene can give useful information. The use of various ammunition and the ballistics (study of the projectile or bullet), including the harm and evidence left on the body or scene - as entry and exit wound, blood splatter or gunshot residue is investigated. Experience of the examination of firearms, spent cartridge cases, and bullets, and gunshot residue analysis is explained in helping form an opinion of a possible course of a crime. Caution is taught from the over-jealous case of the shooting of Jill Dando, a TV journalist where Barry George was convicted due to one particle of gunshot on his jacket. He was later freed as it became apparent that this particle could have come from anywhere, including the forensic scientists.
Unit 7: Fires, explosions and explosives
Arson is a common crime. The materials involved in fire and explosions are vast, so the crime scene can only be reviewed using actual case study examples. Investigation of the scene begins as soon as the fire is extinguished and safety is assured. Fire or an explosion can cause extensive damage. The nature and behaviour of fire, where it began and detailed documentation of the fire scene investigation are explored. Fire, heat, explosives and the objects damaged take on or have many chemical and biological factors which are covered. How to conduct analysis of accelerants and classification of explosives is shared. Investigation of explosion scenes and the analysis of explosions and explosives provide knowledge to help assess their use in a crime or an accident. An example is the fire in a Fireworks factory where the police were tasked with proving if it was accidental or fraudulent.
Unit 8: Human remains
Often humans are burnt to remove all trace of a crime, but their investigation can reveal a host of information, e.g. a man who committed billions of pounds of fraud, was thought to have been killed in a shooting after which his body was supposedly burnt as his teeth were found on the scene. It was later discovered that he has not died at all, but had falsified his death. Often an autopsy is encouraged if the course of death is suspicious or unexplained. Forensic archaeology, post-mortem changes and estimation of time of death e.g. from decomposition which can prove difficult and emotive, is explored. The same techniques have been used in identifying the remains and cause of death in very ancient sites. The changes in the human body from death are covered in great detail as its helps in establishing a cause of death, helping to time death and can help in the identification of the remains.
Unit 9: Statistical analysis
As with all investigation, it is necessary to measure the validity of evidence and the techniques used when making a claim about a possible crime. What measurements are needed, what processes are used to gather and interpret data, quantitative analysis, and how accurate they are in determining a hypothesis or making an assertion is covered here. Interpretation of forensic evidence, data types and distribution, accuracy and errors are covered. How to conduct hypothesis testing, statistical tests and the use of the Bayesian approach (a complex theorem used to predict the odds for and against a course of event) is covered in detail.
Unit 10: Forensic science and court
A significant point of a forensic scientist’s work is that they might provide evidence in court. The legal profession and the structures, processes and types of courts in the United Kingdom, and the personnel involved within them are overviewed. The use of forensic science and how reports are produced for the criminal court, and how giving witness in court by an Expert witnesses to clarify points and findings is discussed.
The coursework is assessed through continuous assessment with no formal exit examinations. Through assessment you will cover certain criteria such as:
- Theoretical Knowledge/ Understanding
- Practical Implications
- Integration of Theory and Practice.
The course has TWO Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA); which are graded: Pass or Fail. The grading procedure if Pass or Fail. Your grade will depend upon if the criteria set ha been met and the decision of your tutor. If you Fail an assessment you have the opportunity to amend where your tutor has highlighted and resubmit.
Study Hours (Per Unit)
Approximately: 20 hours personal study time per unit, which is supported by the ODL Course Tutor, but we greatly encouraged students to access support from their tutor throughout the course.
The whole course MUST be completed and both assignments graded PASS to gain the “Oxford Learning College Level Three Diploma in Forensic Science”
Course Fee: £850.00 Fees can be paid by instalments.
Entry to this level three course requires that potential students have gained GCSE/IGCSE or equivalent qualifications and have, good English oral, reading and writing skills.
Advice on enrolment and guidance of prior learning (APL) can be obtained through out contact centre. The course is a rolling programme and can be started at any point in the year. Successful students can go on to Higher Education, including remaining as students at OLC to complete courses in our portfolio of higher awards.
This course has been developed by the College’s professional team of tutors to meet the needs of sector based employers and employees. It is also part of the College’s validated level three Diplomas’, recognised internationally, as verified and moderated Centre for Interactive Education (CIE Global). Further details of our accreditations are provided on our website.