Forensic Science I - Course Syllabus

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Forensic Science Course Review and Outline. Course Topics and Perspective. Forensic science is the application of scientific knowledge to questions of civil and ...
Forensic Science Course Review and Outline

Course Topics and Perspective

Forensic science is the application of scientific knowledge to questions of civil and criminal law. This course is a lab-based, hands-on course that will explore what forensic scientists do. You will learn modern forensic methods and use scientific methods to solve legal problems.

This course will focus on collection and analysis of crime scene evidence (such as serology, toxicology, entomology, odontology and trace evidence), and explore lab analysis techniques, (such as chromatography, DNA analysis, fingerprinting, and hair and footprint analysis).

Forensic scientists are also required to testify in court about their methods and analysis of evidence. To make a convincing case, you need to be able to clearly and concisely explain the results of the labs and techniques you use, and explain the significance of your results in lab reports.

Finally, mock crime scenes will be investigated and real case studies analyzed.

Interdisciplinary Relationships

Forensics is a diverse field, and rarely are forensic scientists “generalists” – people who specialize in all aspects of forensic science. Forget what you see on CSI (insert city here). Forensic scientists don’t wear pumps to a crime scene, they rarely interview suspects or make arrests, and they are not experts in all areas of forensic investigations. Rather, forensic experts usually specialize in one or two branches of forensic investigation.

A botanist may be an expert in forensic botany. An entomologist may be an expert in forensic entomology. Chemists may specialize in forensic toxicology or arson and bomb analysis. People with expertise in physics may focus on firearms and ballistics or blood spatter analysis.

It would be impossible to survey all areas of forensic science in a semester long high school course. Rather, we will explore a range of fields, topics and methodologies to give you a sense of the diverse fields of study in forensics.

Nevertheless, forensic science is an applied scientific discipline, and your success in this course will require you to apply your basic understanding of physics, chemistry, biology and even math to explore the range of topics surveyed. Forensic Science Course Outline (Sections are Subject Area Divisions, Not in Sequence)

Section I. Introduction

1. Introduction to the Forensic Sciences History and Development of Forensic Science Deductive Reasoning Organization of a Crime Laboratory Services of the Crime Laboratory Functions of the Forensic Scientist Other Forensic Science Services Case Study: Detection of Curare in the Jascalevich Murder Trial

2. The Crime Scene Legal Considerations at the Crime Scene Securing and Recording the Crime Scene Evidence Collection Techniques Chain of Custody Crime Scene Photography: Proper Documentation of a Crime Scene Photographic Evidence and Log Recording – Mock Crime Scene Photography Forensic Archaeology and Buried Remains Recovery Case Study: The Enrique Camarena Case: A Forensic Nightmare Mock Crime Scene: Combine Techniques to Process and Document a Crime Scene

3. Forensic Use of the Microscope The Compound Microscope The Comparison Microscope The Stereoscopic Microscope The Polarizing Microscope The Microspectrophotometer The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) Case Study: Microscopic Trace Evidence The Overlooked Clue: Arthur Koehler, Wood Detective

4. Criminal Justice Aspects of the Justice System Aspects of Trials

Section II. Biological Evidence

1. Identifying Human Remains Identifying the Body: Human or Nonhuman? Skin Coloration Defensive Wounds and Other Visible Marks Postmortem Lividity Rigor Mortis Processes of Decay Bodies Underwater

2. The Medical Examiner and the Autopsy The Autopsy in History Defining the Parameters of the Autopsy Reviewing Autopsy Reports

3. Forensic Anthropology Introduction to Forensic Anthropology Human Bone vs. Animal Bone Skeletal Comparison of Human Males & Females Ancestry from Skeletal Remains Determining Types of Trauma from Skeletal Remains Forensic Odontology

4. Forensic Entomology Introduction to Forensic Entomology

5. Hair, Fiber and Botanical Remains Identification and Comparison of Hair Collection and Preservation of Hair Evidence Types of Fibers Identification and Comparison of Manufactured Fibers Collection and Preservation of Fiber Evidence Botanical Remains: Pollen, Seeds, and Other Remains

6. Organic Materials Analysis Selecting an Analytical Technique Chromatography Spectrophotometry Mass Spectrometry

7. Forensic Toxicology Toxicology of Alcohol The Role of the Toxicologist Techniques Used in Toxicology The Significance of Toxicological Findings The Drug Recognition Expert

8. Forensic Serology The Nature of Blood Immunoassay Techniques Forensic Characterization of Bloodstains Stain Patterns of Blood Principles of Heredity Forensic Characterization of Semen Collection of Rape Evidence

9. DNA: The Indispensable Forensic Science Tool Recombinant DNA: Cutting and Splicing DNA DNA Typing Mitochondrial DNA The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) Case Study: The Forensic Community's Response to September 11

10. Fingerprints Fundamental Principles of Fingerprints Classification of Fingerprints Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems Preservation of Developed Prints Digital Imaging for Fingerprint Enhancement

11. Forensic Psychology Mental Deviance Criminal Profiling Polygraph Analysis

Section III. Physical Evidence

1. Physical Evidence The Significance of Physical Evidence Forensic Databases Crime Scene Reconstruction Case Study: Fiber Evidence and the Wayne Williams Trial

2. Physical Properties: Glass and Soil Physical Properties Comparing Glass Fragments Glass Fractures Collection and Preservation of Glass Evidence Forensic Characteristics of Soil Collection and Preservation of Soil Evidence

3. Firearm and Ballistic Evidence Determining Caliber & Gun Type from Bullets & Shell Casings Determining Weapons Firing from Gunshot Residue

4. Inorganic Materials Analysis Evidence in the Assassination of President Kennedy The Emission Spectrum of Elements Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer The Origin of Emission and Absorption Spectra Neutron Activation Analysis X-Ray Diffraction

5. Paint Forensic Examination of Paint Collection and Preservation of Paint Evidence

6. Drug Analysis Narcotic Drugs Hallucinogens Depressants Stimulants Club Drugs Anabolic Steroids Drug-Control Laws Drug Identification Collection and Preservation of Drug Evidence

7. Forensic Aspects of Arson and Explosion Investigations Searching the Fire Scene Collection and Preservation of Arson Evidence Analysis of Flammable Residues Types of Explosives Collection and Analysis of Explosives

8. Firearms, Tool Marks, and Other Impressions Cartridge Cases Automated Firearms Search Systems Gunpowder Residues Primer Residues on the Hands Serial Number Restoration Collection and Preservation of Firearms Evidence Tool Marks Other Impressions

9. Document and Voice Examination Collection of Handwriting Exemplars Typescript Comparisons Inks and Papers Photocopier, Printer, and Fax Examination Alterations, Erasures, and Obliterations Other Document Problems Voice Examination

10. Computer Forensics From Input to Output: How Does the Computer Work? Putting It All Together How Data Is Stored Processing the Electronic Crime Scene Evidentiary Data Case Study 1. Computer Forensic Analysis Answers the Question "Arson or Accident?" Case Study 2. Counterfeiting and Fraud: A Forensic Computer Investigation