CHE-40025 - Forensic Evidence: At the crime scene and in the court
Coordinator: Clare L Smith Room: N/A Tel: +44 1782 7 34113
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 7
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 734921

Programme/Approved Electives for 2020/21


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2020/21

This module provides study of the two end-points of the forensic process, namely the crime scene and the court, and, as such, complements the study of the chemical and physical analysis of evidential materials that forms the basis of other modules at level 7. In detail, the first section covers study of the assessment of a crime scene and the formulation of a forensic strategy based on evidential value, both for investigative and conviction goals. The admissibility of forensic evidence in the court and the consequences for the forensic scientist are discussed through the use of real case-studies. Evidence evaluation and, in particular, the logical evaluation using Bayesian inference are reviewed and applied to a variety of evidence types. Finally, the role of the expert witness in the court is critically reviewed in detail and again illustrated using case-studies. The module is assessed through a number of critical studies and reports linked to the main issues within the module and there is a mock court cross-examination exercise in conclusion.

This module aims to:
To provide in-depth study of the two end-points of the forensic process - the crime scene and the court
Explain and illustrate how forensic science at the crime scene may be used to provide investigative leads as well as evidence leading to conviction in the court
Provide a sound understanding of evidential value and the processes supporting both investigative and conviction forensics
Provide a critical evaluation of the importance of the admissibility of evidence and the factors that may contribute to evidence being rejected by the court
Engender skills in critically reviewing approaches to evidence evaluation according to evidence type, including appropriate use of statistical tools
Provide a sound understanding of the court procedures regarding the scientific expert witness and the court's expectations of such witnesses
Facilitate the development of advanced skills in the preparation of concise expert witness reports on different evidence types and according to the circumstances of a given case scenario
Engender skills in the preparation and delivery of oral testimony to the court and the ability to defend it under cross-examination.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

describe and critically evaluate the role of the crime scene and the court within the forensic process, including much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the discipline; will be achieved by assessments: 1, 2
describe and critically evaluate how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to interpret knowledge in the forensic-legal process; will be achieved by assessments: 2, 3, 4
evaluate critically current scholarship in the forensic-legal process by applying conceptual knowledge and methodologies;
will be achieved by assessments: 2, 3, 4
deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate conclusions clearly to professional and non-specialist audiences. will be achieved by assessments: 1, 3, 4

Study hours

Lectures 16 h
Workshops/ problem classes 8 h
Cross-examination (including formative session) 1 h
Preparation for workshops 20 h
Preparation of reports and testimony 35 h
Self-directed study 70 h

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Report weighted 20%
Forensic report for the Senior Investigating Officer
This is a concise report (1000 words) on the findings from forensic examination of a crime scene indicating the forensic strategy and procedures being recommended to the senior police officer.

2: Commentary weighted 30%
Critical analysis of a court of appeal case
This is a critical study (1500 words) of an individual court of appeal case where specific forensic evidence and associated testimony is at issue.

3: Report weighted 30%
Expert Witness Statement
This is a written testimony for the court (1500 words) based on a given scenario and associated forensic data.

4: Viva weighted 20%
Expert witness cross-examination
This is the examination and cross-examination of the expert witness (20 min) in a mock court on the basis of the testimony submitted on forensic evidence (assessment 3).