AP0725 - Criminalistics

What will I learn on this module?

Trace evidence such as fibres, glass and paint is often critical in forensic investigations. In this module you will learn the theory that underpins fibres, glass, paint, and firearms as evidence types and learn how that knowledge can be utilised to solve cases. You will learn how to apply your knowledge to determine when and how each evidence type may or may not be approppariate in a given case scenario and in doing so develop a case strategy. Your practical skills will be developed to enable you to search, recover and analyse trace evidence using appropriate techniques. Armed with hard evidence you will then apply your knowledge within the context of the case scenario to evaluate its significance. By the end of this module you will have developed an understanding of the role of a forensic examiner and what value they bring to the forensic aspect of a criminal investigation.

How will I learn on this module?

Teaching is delivered through a combination of lectures and laboratory based practical sessions. This module will contain a series of introductory lectures covering sampling techniques, evidence collection and an overview of current and cutting edge screening and analytical techniques, supported by hands on laboratory sessions. The use of the case work iassessment and interpretation model (CAI) in the interpretation and evaluation of trace evidenceis explored in lectures and developed by application in practical assessments.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported through active participation and discussion during laboratory practicals and scene house examinations. These offer a unique opportunity to fully understand the scientific theory underpinning the laboratory tests and the interpretation of your scientific findings.
All lecture and practical material will be available on the University’s eLearning Portal, supplemented with guidance on further reading relevant to the subjects.
Written assessment feedback will also be provided to allow you to understand how you performed and how you can build on this performance in subsequent assessments within your programme.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

1. You will be able to determine the role, nature, evolution and limitations of methods and technologies appropriate to chemical criminalistics specialisms

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

2. You will use evidence and criteria to integrate, evaluate, interpret and synthesise information and data from a variety of sources.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

How will I be assessed?

Examination (50%) (MLO 1) featuring a series of short answer questions designed to demonstrate breadth and depth of knowledge related to forensic analytical techniques applied to trace analysis

Practical examination of material relating to a mock case (50%)(MLO2). Production of a report on the evaluation of laboratory findings within the context of the given case.

Additional formative assessment – detail of process and rationale

Formative laboratory sessions will cover search and recovery of The evidence types covered in the lectures, with emphasis placed on understanding the principles of the analytical techniques used. Students will gain hands on experience which they will apply in the summative sessions

Indication of how students will get feedback and how this will support their learning

Feedback on formatively assessed laboratory sessions will be given throughout each session and reinforced in teaching.
Written feedback will be provided within the university guidelines for both summative assessments





Module abstract

Textile fibres, glass and paint are often turned to in the absence of a DNA lead in a forensic investigation. Trace evidence and other evidence such as firearms, have been shown to be crucial to the solving of many high profile and cold cases such as the costal path murders, the Ipswich serial killings and the murders of Jill Dando, Stephen Lawrence and Damiloa Taylor to name but a few. In this module you will deepen your knowledge and understanding of the theory, practices and processes of trace evidence examination whilst developing your practical transferrable laboratory skills of industry standard methods. Crucially, you will apply your knowledge to evaluate the significance of trace evidence within the context of a case.
Case studies and case scenarios will be embedded throughout the module which underpin the theory and practical application of trace evidence in the investigation of crime. This module will provide an authentic learning experience which will strengthen your understanding of the role of a forensic trace examiner and what value they bring to the forensic aspect of a criminal investigation.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 or 3 years part-time
1 other options available

Department Applied Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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