FOR5022 - Advanced methods in forensic science: emerging trends and issues - 2018

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

Chief examiner(s)

Associate Professor Richard Bassed


Alastair Ross

Quota applies

This unit is quota restricted. Selection is on a first-in, first enrolled basis. For further information please contact the Postgraduate Course Administrator via email or phone 03 9684 4115.

Not offered in 2018


FOR4004, FOR4001, FOR4003


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%)

Hurdle Requirement

A pass in all elements of assessment is required. Students must obtain at least 50 % of the available marks for each element of assessment to pass the unit.

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

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