AP0502 - Trace Analysis

What will I learn on this module?

Traditional areas of forensic science such as fibres, glass and paint can be overlooked in forensic investigations despite having strengths that other evidence types, such as DNA, don’t have. In this module you will develop your understaning of the theory underpinning fibres, glass and paint and learn how knowledge of their strengths can can be exploited to solve criminal cases. You will learn how to apply your knowledge to determine when and how each evidence type may or may not be appropriate 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 trace evidence within forensic investigations, how trace examinations are performed and how to interpret significant findings within the context of a specific case scenario.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn from experienced trace practitioners through lectures, practical laboratory sessions and workshops designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills required to conduct a forensic trace examination and its subsequent interpretation. The lectures will cover theories and concepts that will enable you to put theory into practice in a series of practical laboratory exercises using industry standard equipment. Workshops are designed to allow you to gain hands-on experience in data analysis in Northumbria’s computer labs, which are fully equipped with the latest industry-standard software. Recent and fundamental research studies will be used to bolster your learning and enable you to develop evidence based opinions when evaluating the significance of forensic trace evidence within the context of a case. This will be delivered using case studies and scenarios’ which provide ‘real-world’ experiences that reinforce the potential of fibres, glass and paint as evidence types to a forensic investigation.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported through active participation and discussion during laboratory practicals. 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:
• You will apply your theoretical knowledge to interpret and evaluate trace evidence in casework scenarios

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• You will develop your skills to be able to search, recover and identify fibres, glass and paint
• You will apply the results of analytical techniques to identify likely sources of fibres, glass and paint and use those results to evaluate their significance within the context of a case

How will I be assessed?

There will be two components to this assessment
• Unseen exam (60%) MLO 1
• Practical assessment (40%) MLO's 2,3

The unseen examination will allow you demonstrate the depth and breadth of your knowledge and understanding of essential facts, theories and concepts to analyse and interpret trace evidence.

The authentic practical assessment is designed to assess your understanding of the individual strengths and limitations of fibre, glass and paint evidence in prioritising examinations, carrying out those examinations and evidencing your scientific findings and opinion. Formative feedback during laboratory classes will direct and support you to achieve this.





Module abstract

Trace evidence such as textile fibres, glass and paint can often provide crucial evidence in a case, even in the absence of a DNA link. Fibre evidence, for example, has been shown to be crucial to the solving of many high profile and cold cases such as the murders of Stephen Lawrence and Damiloa Taylor, the costal path murders and the Ipswich serial killings to name but a few. In this module you will expand 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.

Underpinnnig the theory, practical application and evaluation of trace evidence will be case studies and case scenarios used to enhance your appreciation and understanding of trace evidence in the investigation of crime. This module will provide an authentic learning experience which will deepen your understanding of the role of a forensic trace examiner and what value trace evidence can bring to a forensic investigation.

Course info

UCAS Code F410

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years full-time with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Applied Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.


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