FPA5007 - Death investigation - 2019

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


Associate Professor David Ranson

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 postgrad.courses@vifm.org or phone 03 9684 4115.

Not offered in 2019


Enrolment by Department of Forensic Medicine permission only.


Coronial and other medico-legal death investigation systems

This topic provides a framework and wider context for the practice of forensic pathology and covers:

  • Actual and theoretical models for death investigation systems, using examples from Australia, other jurisdictions and recent reform proposals in the UK including issues of organisation and administration, investigation powers and inquests/formal hearings.
  • Relationships with forensic pathology and science services.
  • Management of bodies and tissues.
  • Interaction with next of kin.

Death Scene Investigation

This topic will provide students with theoretical knowledge and practical skills to observe and analyse evidence at death scenes, enhancing their ability to work effectively with other participants in the process and assist in answering questions about the cause and the circumstances of deaths under investigation. These skills will be applied to a range of special scenes to provide students with as varied and relevant experience as possible:

  • Deaths in custody
  • Hospitals and other health institutions
  • Transport related deaths
  • Mass disaster
  • War crimes death investigation
  • Industrial deaths
  • Fire scenes
  • Explosion scenes
  • Exhumations.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of different models for death investigation systems.
  2. Understand how issues of organisation and administration of death investigation systems and management of key processes impact on forensic pathology practice.
  3. Understand the principles of death scene investigation and the roles of the relevant participants in the investigation.
  4. Have acquired skills necessary for effectively observing and analyzing death scene evidence.
  5. Be able to apply these skills to different types of death scenes.


  • Assignments (30%)
  • Case study presentation (40%) (Hurdle)
  • Oral examination (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

60 contact hours (tutorials and attendance at scenes), 50 hours of case and practical work and approximately 46 hours for individual study, assignments and case book preparation.

See also Unit timetable information

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

Additional information on this unit is available from the faculty at: