FOR5022 - Advanced methods in forensic science: emerging trends and issues - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Organisational Unit

Forensic Medicine


Alastair Ross

Quota applies

This unit is quota restricted. Selection is on a first-in, first enrolled basis.

Not offered in 2017


Forensic science is essentially problem solving based on the examination of traces and compounds collected from scenes and persons.

As the traces and compounds become more complex, instrumentation used to analyse them becomes more sophisticated and sensitive and the interpretation of the results of analysis becomes more problematic.

In addition to this technical evolution, there are emerging trends and issues that will impact forensic science service provision across its broad scope.

These trends and issues that are a coming together of both 'hard' science and social science have the potential to significantly change the thinking and practice of forensic science and the way in which forensic science laboratories operate.

Students of this Unit will be exposed to concepts which include:

  • Forensic intelligence
  • Cognitive bias
  • Problem solving; who, what and how
  • Triage
  • Sensitivity
  • The science, medicine, law and law enforcement silo mentality

This on-line unit will explore these concepts, the links between many of them and their potential impact on forensic science.

Contemporary articles/texts on the concepts will be provided.


At the completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate the changes occurring in forensic science practice and explain these as the result of the engagement with social science and criminalistics.
  2. Recognise the links and possible tensions between emerging issues such as forensic intelligence, triage, and cognitive bias, and how these may impact data collection, analysis, and interpretation.
  3. Identify risks of existing insular (siloed) approaches between medicine, science, law and law enforcement and its impact on forensic science.
  4. Understand and articulate how the proposed changes to insular work practices will affect the current forensic science work flow patterns.
  5. Comprehend and articulate the need for the forecast changes in forensic intelligence processes, siloed workplaces, issues of bias and triage, and the benefits these changes will bring to the end-users of forensic science.


  • Critical analysis of emerging trends and issues (2000 words) (35%)
  • Research paper (2000 words) (35%)
  • Case study (2000 words) (30%)

Workload requirements

It is expected that students will need to undertake approximately 12 hours of study per week over the Semester.

This will include private study (text and readings), assessment tasks (case studies, assignments), and may include involvement in case work Students are required to attend a two day workshop during the semester.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study