LAW5457 - Forensic evidence: Law, science, medicine and technology - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 3, 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate - Unit

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



Unit guides


City (Melbourne)

  • Term 4 2017 (On-campus block of classes)


This unit examines the intersection between science, medicine, technology and the law. It focuses on the issues that arise when experts give forensic evidence in legal proceedings. It includes presentations by a number of forensic experts on topics including:

  • Crime scene investigation;
  • Death investigation (e.g., forensic pathology; forensic odontology);
  • Forensic medicine (e.g., sexual assault investigation; traffic medicine);
  • Mental health examination (e.g., forensic psychiatry; forensic psychology);
  • Pattern evidence (e.g., fingerprints; ballistics; toolmarks; document examination);
  • Biological and chemical evidence (e.g., DNA; chemical trace evidence);
  • Digital evidence (e.g., forensic computing; forensic accounting).


At the successful completion of this Unit, students will be able to:

  1. Apply knowledge of, and understanding of a range of contemporary issues surrounding the collection, analysis and use of forensic evidence, and identify

    appropriate practical responses to those issues;

  2. Investigate, analyse and synthesise complex information, problems, concepts and theories in relation to forensic evidence in a range of fields, in order to identify its current strengths and weaknesses, and the structural problems that arise in its collection, analysis and use;
  3. Recognise and reflect upon the complex ethical issues that may arise when forensic evidence is given in legal proceedings, and the professional responsibilities of lawyers and expert witnesses in addressing these issues;
  4. Demonstrate high level research skills and the reasoning and professional judgment required to formulate appropriate responses to complex legal problems involving forensic evidence;
  5. Use cognitive, technical and creative skills to communicate effectively and persuasively on issues relating to forensic evidence;

  6. Learn and work with a high level of autonomy, and use feedback to improve their own performance.


One electronic conference poster assignment: 20%

One video podcast assignment (10-15 minutes): 40%

One take-home examination (3,000 words): 40%

Workload requirements

24 contact hours per semester (either intensive, semi-intensive or semester long, depending on the Faculty resources, timetabling and requirements)

Chief examiner(s)