1 BSc (Hons) FORENSIC SCIENCE BSc (Hons) FORENSIC SCIENCE WITH FOUNDATION YEAR PRE-COURSE INFORMATION ACADEMIC YEAR
2 CONTENTS Page Number Welcome to the Programmes 2 Introduction & Overview 3 Programme Activities 6 Programme Structure 8 Suggested Reading List 11 Career Opportunities 12 1
3 WELCOME TO THE FORENSIC SCIENCE PROGRAMME On behalf of all the staff associated with the BSc (Hons) Forensic Science programmes, and the School of Psychology, Social Work & Human Sciences, we would like to extend a warm welcome to you. We are delighted that you have decided to undertake a Forensic Science degree with us and look forward to working with you during your studies with us, beginning September. We hope that you will enjoy both the academic and social life of the University. You will be joining a programme that welcomes students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds and a range of varied academic experience. The university welcomes diversity. Some of you may have come directly from school, while some of you may have worked and be returning to education after a gap. Some of you may be taking this programme full-time, others will be studying part-time. These differences will provide a lively, stimulating learning environment, which will hopefully be enjoyed by you all. The purpose of this programme booklet is two-fold it provides you with an overview of the programmes and is a reference document. Its aim is to answer some of your initial questions but it will not answer all your queries; in such case the Module Leaders and Programme Leader will be pleased to help. We hope that you enjoy your Forensic Science programme and wish you every success with your studies Dr David Chappell Programme Leader Dr Julia Townshend Field Leader 2
4 INTRODUCTION & OVERVIEW Forensic Science is scientific investigation as it relates to law. The programmes adopt a multi-disciplinary stance, allowing the treatment of a wide range of topics at the interfaces between biological and chemical science, psychology and the law. The Forensic Science programmes will provide a solid science education and relevant vocational training. A number of highly trained guest lecturers will enhance the programmes by providing specialist knowledge. In addition, visits to external agencies, including Courts of Law, are expected to be incorporated, further enhancing the work-based aspect of the programme. Forensic Scientists must be able to think and act independently, rationalising their outcome behaviours with a sound exposition of the criminal process, law and related science. As a consequence, the programmes have been developed to reflect these requirements, leading to the creation of competent and highly skilled Forensic Scientists of the future. The following are the key features of the programmes: 3 A coherent student experience, which balances your learning experience across several disciplines. A framework of core topics provides a sound scientific basis for further learning. A range of core modules which allow a thorough grounding in the techniques and experiences encountered by the modern Forensic Scientist. Enabling the changing priorities of students and employers to be met. Programmes that are multi-disciplined and multi-skilled programmes. These programmes incorporate a wide range of topics anatomy, physiology, psychology, pharmacology, law, chemical analysis and molecular biology. The BSc (Hons) Forensic Science degrees are cross-disciplinary or a multi-disciplinary in nature. By the end of the programme you are likely to be more multi-disciplined and multi-skilled than a student who has undertaken a traditional single honours programme. The range of core modules provide coherent programmes and provide a firm foundation in crime scene investigation, chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, psychology, critical thinking skills, and insights into the criminal process. During subsequent years, this foundation will be expanded and built on in all areas. Some of the modules at all levels will be common with other pathways e.g. BSc (Hons) Criminology and BSc (Hons) Law. This will give you the opportunity to mix with other people from different disciplines, those that are scientifically orientated as well as those who are arts inclined. This will help you to become a well-rounded, individual with knowledge and skills of a wide range of approaches and research methodologies. Moreover, these aspects will reflect the day-to-day experiences of
5 the practising Forensic Scientist who is required to liaise and cooperate with a range of people with different skills and expertise. One of the most important elements of this curriculum is its high practical content, with several of the modules relying on practical assessments to evaluate the students understanding of the topic. Consequently, all students will spend a large proportion of their time at the university undertaking laboratory experiments. IMPORTANT NOTE: Students will need to wear protective clothing for laboratory work, and you will be expected to purchase a white laboratory coat before commencing your studies. An appropriate supplier is The second strength of these programmes is the way research is being taught not as an add on but as a theme throughout the programmes. In each module, teachers will explore with you the research and technical methodology relevant to the discipline. It is during the concurrent learning skill development sessions that you will have the opportunity to examine and integrate their knowledge of research from the different paradigms, developing an understanding of a range of research and technical approaches. The framework of core modules will give you the depth and breadth of scientific and legal knowledge. All topics studied are current and relevant to today s society; topics and ideas such as critical thinking, the judiciary, and substance misuse are all covered within the Honours degree. These topics lay along side more traditional academic disciplines such as physiology, biochemistry and pharmacology. The Forensic Science degree programmes will allow you to be scientifically literate, numerate and scientifically aware, in addition to providing you with knowledge of the judicial system. These are skills and abilities required by the competent, practising Forensic Scientist. The goal for our graduate student is independent, life-long learning and the development and demonstration of the specific abilities in disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts are a means to that end. All Forensic Science students at the university will be eligible to become a student member of the Forensic Science Society. The Honours Degree For award of the Honours degree, the cognitive and practice skills developed during introductory and intermediate levels, will be utilised during the final year. The final year modules, which includes an independent research project, will place the Forensic Science student in the broader context which requires you to apply your acquired skills to new and different situations, for example criminal behaviour (Drugs of Abuse), psychology and the current state of the law. An experiential learning component of the Honours programme will involve the placement of 4
6 students within an organisation where they will be required to engage appropriately with the literature and their previous learning, critically analyse their observations, rationalise their reflections, and evaluate the impact of their experience on their personal goals. On completion of the Honours programme, students will have developed a range of skills encompassing scientific analysis and research, psychological profiling and insights into the process of criminal investigation. 5
7 PROGRAMME ACTIVITIES Lectures These are sessions where new, or redefined material is presented by a lecturer to the whole group. In preparation for these sessions it may be appropriate for you to have read some background material related to the topic area. Some of these lectures may be shared with other pathways, for example those within the School of Law. Seminars These are small group sessions of shared learning in the form of presentations, discussion and case studies. Preparation for these sessions is essential in order for students to participate fully. Indeed, a few of the modules will use student input as part of their assessment. Tutorials These are informal small group sessions where you will have the opportunity to discuss the work or any academic problems you may have encountered in the module. The use of tutorial time will vary depending on the lecture, some lecturers will set assignments to be prepared for the tutorial others will use them to problem solve. However it is important that you prepare for the tutorial session. Blackboard e-learning Blackboard offers a wide variety of online tools to support you whilst you are studying on the programme. These include: Distribution of programme documentation such as module study guides and study notes. Notice-boards that allow lecturers to keep students up to date with programme events timetables etc Bulletin or discussion boards. Chat room Practical work A large number of modules contain a high percentage of practical work. This practical work also acts as an assessment method. Undertaking practical work will allow you to link theory with practice and see scientific principles put into action. For the scientific modules you will be working in the science laboratories and carrying out various practical procedures. As mentioned previously, in order to undertake practical work you will be expected to purchase a white laboratory coat before commencing your studies. 6
8 PebblePad PebblePad is a Personal Learning System which is used at the University of West London to help you: Reflect on the way you learn. Keep a record of, and comment on, your skills and achievements, your experiences and what you ve learned both on the course and in your wider life. Prepare for future employment. With PebblePad, you will be able to: Build your own electronic portfolio (e-portfolio) of achievements, skills and experiences, which you can then package into one or more webfolio. Share documents, images, videos, and sound files, with your tutors, with other students, or anyone else you choose to share with (e.g. workplace mentors, or potential employers) These e-portfolios will be used as a form of assessment in some modules. You will be able to use PebblePad throughout the duration of your studies at the University of West London, and to take it with you when you leave the University. You will be able to present it to potential employers via a weblink. External visits Visits to external agencies, including courts of law will be arranged. The aim of these visits is to give an insight into the internal procedures adopted by such agencies that are likely to impact on the day to day activities of the practising Forensic Scientist. 7
9 PROGRAMME STRUCTURE A total of six modules (full-time study) or four modules (part-time study) are taken in the first year. All modules are core and the module summaries are detailed below: Foundation Year Module Summaries Module Summary Academic Writing & The indicative content of the module includes academic writing Researching genres and conventions of correct grammar punctuation and spelling. It includes developing effective reading strategies as well as note making and note taking, effective paragraphing and summarising. Structuring and planning essays and reports in timed and non-timed situations and developing coherent arguments and specialist vocabulary. Using referencing and bibliographies to avoid plagiarism and locating and using a wide range of resources. Exam preparation, revision and time management as well as individual learning plans. Qualitative and quantitative research and ethical issues and debates. Use of learning and research packages. Essential Chemistry This module incorporates essential concepts of chemistry and will provide an excellent foundation for the further study of biology and chemistry. Theory sessions are supported by practical work within the laboratory. Topics introduced include: atomic structure, covalent and ionic bonding, chemical formulae and equations, acids and bases. ICT and Mathematics The module will focus on using calculators to perform calculations in general, and specifically those involving logarithms, indices, scientific notation (standard form), ratios, fractions and percentages. Units of measurement will also be studied, including accuracy, precision and conversions between units. The plotting of various types of graphs will also be studied, as will the calculations of various statistics, such as means. In addition, students will learn file management techniques and produce text enhancements, spreadsheet packages to produce Laboratory Techniques tables of data. Use the library and on-line sources to access basic information relating to handling chemicals: physical properties, toxicity and manipulation. Work in a laboratory environment with regard to personal safety and that of others. Design, assemble and use simple chemical/biological apparatus, in addition to devising methods of collecting data, and recording scientific data from an experiment in an appropriate scientific style. Analysis of data and experimental observations and to discuss any conclusions indicated from the data. Essential Biology 8 This module incorporates essential concepts of biology and will provide an excellent foundation for the further study of biology and chemistry. Theory sessions are supported by practical work within the laboratory. Topics introduced include: the light microscope, cells, tissues and organs, biomolecules, enzymes, and dietary nutrients and micronutrients.
10 Personal and Professional Development for Forensic Science This module will introduce personal and professional development issues related to employment within the field of Forensic Science., and to allow reflection on learning and future developmental planning. Topic introduced include: PebblePad, how groups work BELBIN analysis, requirements of forensic reporting, critical review of forensic science in print and visual media. First year of three-year degree Module Summaries Module Summary Introduction to This module introduces the concepts of forensic science, and Forensic Science examines the types of evidence found at the scenes of a crime which Chemistry for the Biosciences Human Body Form and Function Building Blocks of Life Introduction to Pharmacology is vitally important for the investigation of crime. This module is designed to give a thorough understanding of fundamental concepts of chemistry, including bonding and structure, oxidation and reduction processes and then progress to more complex issues of biochemistry, including electrochemical gradients. Theory sessions will be supported by practical work in the laboratory. The module provides an introduction to the anatomy of the human body. It will also give an insight into the relationship between the structure and function of the individual at the system level, and as a fully integrated organism. Each theory session is supported by a laboratory practical session. This module looks at molecules, large and small, that go to build up the human body. It also provides the basic scientific concepts that underpin modules to be studied at a higher level on this degree programme. It assumes no previous scientific qualifications. This module examines the science base and evidence base of medicine. The science base provides a theoretical basis for diagnostic and treatment modalities and, often, preventative strategies. The evidence-based approach considers those procedures and treatments that work in practice. The Criminal Process This module will examine key aspects of criminal procedure in England and Wales, from arrest to sentencing. The principles of the adversarial system will be explored as well as the issue of criminal liability and the principles governing culpability, i.e. the factors that determine whether a person is considered an offender under the law in England and Wales. Second year of three-year degree Module Summaries Module Summary Analytical Methods The module covers analytical techniques that are used by chemists, forensic scientists and biologists, and aims to consider those techniques that may be encountered by the Forensic Scientist in the workplace. There is also an introduction to Health and Safety within laboratories. Disease and the This module integrates both the physiological and biochemical processes which give rise to the manifestations (signs and 9
11 Human Body Molecular Biology Pharmacology Research Methods Forensic Investigation of Crime symptoms) of human disease. Consideration is also given to the influence of the environment in which we live, and the impact of current lifestyle trends. This module integrates both the theoretical concepts and their laboratory application. The role of nucleic acids in directing protein synthesis and human phenotypic characteristics are also considered. The module incorporates both theory and practical sessions. The module explores aspects of the molecular activity of the cell and nervous system, for an appreciation of how medicines work at the molecular level in the body. A consideration of routes of administration and distribution of drugs in the body help to build the picture of whole body reaction to drugs. The module explores the principles that underpin research design and planning, information retrieval and critical appraisal of scientific evidence, data collection, basic statistical analysis, and dissemination of research findings. The module will provide experience in the drafting of a research proposal. Module content will be tailored in part to Forensic Science. This module will look at key aspects of evidential material through the use of actual case studies. Final year of three-year degree Module Summaries Module Summary Project/Dissertation This module provides an opportunity for you to strengthen your understanding of a specific area of Forensic Science by undertaking an in-depth study involving independent library and/or laboratory research. Experiential This module consists of theoretical and experiential components, and Learning: Science allows the examination and critical evaluation of forensic science theories and concepts in applied settings. Students are required to carry out a minimum of 30 hours of experiential learning in an Physiological Control Forensic Assessment and Examination Techniques Drugs of Abuse 10 organisation external to the university. This module will provide an in-depth analysis of the nervous and the endocrine systems. The module adopts an integrative approach to facilitate an analysis of the mechanisms by which the various physiological systems are subject to central regulation, allowing normal homeostatic control. This module will build on the law based modules and will examine the role of the forensic science in the context of securing evidence obtained from the crime scenes, followed by analysis and interpretation of the evidential data obtained, by the use of actual case studies. Specialist lecturers provide expert input. This module explores the range of drugs of abuse, for example, amphetamines, opiates and cannabinoids, with regard to their mode of ingestion, systemic uptake, detection within body fluids, as well as their psychological action and effects. The criminal and legal implications of drugs of abuse will also be incorporated.
12 SUGGESTED READING LIST The following list details suggested book titles that you may wish to access: Jackson, Andrew R.W. and Jackson Julie M. (2012) Forensic Science, Pearson Higher Education Tortora, G.J. & Derrickson, B. (2009) Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Rang, H.P., Dale, M.M., Ritter, J.M & Moore, P.(2003) Pharmacology (5 th ed.) Churchill Livingstone. Galbraith, A., Bullock, S., Manias, E., Hunt, B. and Richards, A (1999) Fundamentals of Pharmacology, Longman, London Also: General A level Organic Chemistry text books. 11
13 CAREERS OPPORTUNITIES The breadth and depth of the Forensic Science programme ensures that graduates are scientifically literate, numerate and easily able to understand and communicate across a wide range of disciplines. They are multi-disciplined and multi-skilled and can proceed to a variety of careers, within the Forensic Science arena. Foundation degree graduates would be able, in due course, to specialise, either within their current employment organisation, or subsequent to taking up a new employment position. Honours graduates would be able to specialise, and possible employment opportunities include: Reporting Officer Scene of Crimes Examiner Fingerprint Expert Imaging Specialist Accident Investigator Fire Investigator Firearms Expert Pathology Specialist Honours Forensic Science graduates will be able to undertake further study for a higher degree in Forensic Science or could undertake research. The Forensic Science Society states that: The majority of forensic scientist in the United Kingdom are employed by the Forensic Science Service (in England and Wales), by specific police forces (in Scotland), and by regional government (in Northern Ireland), and by private companies which also specialise in providing primary forensic science services to the police. Aside from these, there are a number of other organisations which focus on specific areas of forensic science such as fire investigation, questioned documents and advising defence. 12