SHE Level 1
SCQF Credit Points 10.00
ECTS Credit Points 5.00
Module Code M1F423933
Module Leader Mahesh Uttamlal
School School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment
Subject Chemical Science
  • C (May start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Pre-University chemistry and/or biology

Summary of Content

This module introduces students to methods in forensic science and its input into the criminal justice system in Scotland. It includes a series of lecture and practical sessions. The taught elements are supplemented with field trips to a forensic (or equivalent) laboratory, prison, emergency services and a criminal court.


Legal and Criminal Justice System of Scotland Basic Principles of the Criminal Justice System in Scotland: -360b7 History; b7 Criminal Procedure; b7 Summary Procedure; b7 Civil Procedure; b7 Legal Aid. Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Work undertaken by a Scene of a Crime Officer in Scotland: -360b7 Crime Scene handling and procedures; b7 Fingerprint lifting and characterisation; b7 Footwear identification; b7 Evidence collection. Trace Evidence Analysis Basic principles of optical microscopy in evidence analysis: -360b7 Theory of the optical microscope and techniques; b7 Examination and classification samples important in forensic investigation, e.g. hairs, fibres; ballistics, glass and paint. Firearms Examination Basic principles of electron microscopy in GSR analysis: -360b7 Theory of the electron microscope; b7 Examination of GSR particles using SEM/EDX. DNA Analysis Basic principles of DNA evidence: -360b7 Theory of DNA Analysis; b7 Experimental DNA Analysis; b7 DNA evidence in the Scottish Criminal Justice System. Drug Analysis Basic principles of drug analysis in forensic investigation -360b7 Classification of drugs; b7 Analysis of drugs using analytical chemistry techniques - chromatography, infra-red spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy; Drugs and the Scottish Criminal Justice System.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:1 Demonstrate a knowledge of the legal and criminal justice system in Scotland.2 Describe the role of the work undertaken by a Scene of a Crime Officer in Scotland.3 Describe the role and perform basic fingerprint and footwear analysis for a Forensic Investigation.4 Describe the role and importance of trace analysis using microscopic analysis in Forensic Investigations, e.g. analysis of hairs, fibres, ballistics, GSR, paint and glass.5 Describe the role and importance of the analysis of drugs and environmental samples using analytical chemistry techniques in Forensic Investigations, e.g. FT-IR, chromatography and mass spectroscopy.6 Describe the role and importance of DNA analysis in Forensic Investigations.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

This module will be delivered through a combination of lectures and laboratory exercises/demonstrations. Seminars will be conducted in partnership with institutions within the Scottish Criminal Justice System, e.g. a Scottish court, prison, emergency services and commercial science laboratory. Guest speakers with experience in forensic science and the criminal justice system will be invited to address the students, e.g. drug enforcement agents, DNA experts. Students will be supported by use of the managed learning environment (MLE) GCU Learn. Assessment will involve group working activities and report writing.

Indicative Reading

Students will have full access to a series of relevant text through the CRC ForensicnetBase . "Featuring works by esteemed criminologists and forensic practitioners, this unparalleled e-library boasts an ever-growing number of essential references in crisis management and negotiation methods, arson and homicide investigation, expert witnessing, and forensic pathology. This versatile invaluable product is well-suited to the needs of the smallest of sheriff's departments to large governmental law enforcement agencies, such as the CIA, DEA, and FBI." Subject Areas: -357b7 Arson & Fire Investigation -357b7 Computer Crime Investigation b7 Criminal Justice & Law -357b7 Forensic Pathology b7 Forensics b7 Law Enforcemen t b7 Security Management

Transferrable Skills

On successful completion of this module the student should have developed the following transferable skills: -360b7 Communication Skills - Written skills will be enhanced during the recording of data and producing reports. -360b7 Practical Skills - The student will engage in the handling of forensic samples and the operation of laboratory instrumentation. -360b7 Time Management Skills - The student will develop the ability to work independently as well as with other scientists and support staff.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Seminars (FT) 17.00
Practicals (FT) 28.00
Independent Learning (FT) 18.00
Assessment (FT) 22.00
Lectures (FT) 15.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 1 n/a 30.00 35% Fingerprint Analysis - Individual report
Coursework 2 n/a 35.00 35% Hair & Fibre Identification and Characterisation - Group exercise with report
Coursework 3 n/a 35.00 35% 'White Powder' Identification - Group exercise with report