Criminal Law and Ethics (FS 700, 2 credits)
An overview of legal, ethical, and practical issues of forensic science, the impact of forensic science on the justice system and a discussion of traditional and emerging admissibility standards involving forensic science evidence is given. The curriculum will include a description of the roles law enforcement, attorneys and forensic scientists, professional standards for the practice of criminalistics and ethical issues in forensic pathology, psychiatry and crime scene investigation.
This combination hands-on and lecture-based course will provide students with an in-depth review of crime scene assessment and management. Methods for identifying, documenting, collecting and packaging physical evidence from various types of crime scenes are discussed. A hands-on component will be employed in areas such as crime scene sketching, photography and evidence collection.
This lecture-base course will introduce students to biological aspects of forensic evidence including biochemical and physical attributes of blood and other body fluids. Common methods of body fluid identification utilized in forensic laboratories will be discussed at length. Other topics include guidelines for thorough evidence examination, screening, documentation and report writing.
This lecture-based course will provide an introduction to forensic chemistry and will expose students to chemical principles and instrumental techniques associated with the following areas of the field: controlled substances, toxicology, ignitable liquids and explosives. A review of organic and analytical chemistry as they relate to forensic investigations will be discussed.
Trace Evidence Analysis (FS 707, 3 credits)
This lecture-based course will provide an overview of the principles and concepts on which trace evidence analysis is based. Proper collection, preservation, identification and comparison of items such as glass, paint, hairs and fibers, using standard methods and instruments used in crime laboratories will be discussed.
Forensic Pathology (FS 712, 3 credits)
This lecture-based course will provide the student with an overview of the role of the medical examiner as it relates to death investigations. Specific lectures will cover autopsy procedures in the investigation of gun shot wounds, sharp and blunt trauma, drowning, asphyxia, child deaths, motor vehicle accidents and time since death determination. A general knowledge of anatomy is recommended prior to enrollment.
This lecture-based course will discuss the theory and application of human genetics and molecular biology to testing of biological evidence. DNA structure and organization of the human genome and types of genetic variation occurring in humans will be covered. Other topics include the history of DNA analysis and current PCR based methods for testing of autosomal STR loci, Y chromosome STR loci and mitochondrial DNA. Lecture material will also cover commonly encountered artifacts in PCR testing, DNA profile interpretation and statistical analysis of results.
This interactive course builds upon the material discussed in Criminal Law and Ethics regarding the criminal trial process, the role of the forensic witness and the presentation of scientific testimony and physical evidence in court. Students will actively participate in presenting testimony as well as critiquing the performance of others in a mock court setting. Instructors may utilize reports and projects prepared in other courses to provide the subject matter for the students’ testimony. Prerequisite: Criminal Law and Ethics.
Students will register for this course in preparation for conducting a library- or laboratory-based thesis project. With direction from the student’s thesis research committee, the student will investigate his/her thesis topic, develop a research plan including an outline of the project, become familiar with quality control and quality assurance issues and begin data collection. Prerequisite: Active involvement in the Master’s research project and a designated Principal Investigator.
Students must complete a program of research that will be incorporated into a thesis of publishable quality, states a hypothesis or scientific question and presents the findings to support the stated proposition. Thesis topics are developed in conjunction with a research committee consisting of faculty members and/or other qualified individuals. Registration for this course should be during the semester in which the student anticipates graduation from the program. Prerequisite: Directed Studies in Biomedical Forensic Sciences.