Module details for Essential Skills in Forensic Science


This module introduces the concepts of scientific literacy skills and a broad overview of some of the main principles, practices and techniques used in Forensic Science and the roles of Forensic Scientists. This will include some of the basic forensic practical skills involved in the investigation, searching and examination of crime scenes.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with an introduction to the principles of scientific writing, library skills and research skills, along with an overview of the history of forensic science. The students will also be introduced to a range of forensic science skills and laboratory techniques used in crime scene investigation and examination.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Describe the techniques used to effectively search for evidence and accurately record a crime scene.

2.  Select appropriate techniques for evidence recording, packaging and labelling

3.  Record, analyse and interpret basic observations and data from laboratory activities

4.  Describe the general principles and concepts supporting a range of scientific techniques used in Forensic Science.

Indicative Content

1 Information literacy and IT:

This will include: how to use reading lists, library catalogues, online databases; the collection and evaluation of academic sources of writing, conventional formats and presentation, referencing, avoiding plagiarism; the planning and writing forensic scientific reports, defending academic arguments. As well as how to use the University desktop, file management, standard desktop software, introduction to software tools.

2 General Principles and History of Forensic Science:

This will include an overview of the history of forensic science, including case studies and the practice of forensic science, the examination of scenes of crime as well as the nature of physical evidence, class and individual characterisation

3 Forensic Science Techniques:

This will include fires and explosions; court procedures & legal systems; fingerprints; firearms and ballistics; forensic uses of DNA, blood dynamics; questioned documents; microscopy; toolmarks and impressions.

4 Practical Forensic Skills - Laboratory Based:

Carry out a number of selected biological, chemical and forensic experiments, then interpret and report the data acquired.

5 Practical Forensic Skills - Crime scene based:

Recording of crime scene – notes, sketches. Evidence Preservation - avoidance of contamination, control samples, collection, packaging and labelling of evidence (choice of packaging, avoidance of loss, deterioration or tampering, sealing, labelling and transport); Methodology of Effective Sampling - Effective sampling of trace and contact evidence (handpicking, swabbing, tape lifts, sweeping, vacuuming). Representative sampling, known samples and negative controls.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Teaching and Learning Method Hours
Lecture 24
Tutorial/Seminar 6
Practical Activity 36
Assessment 40
Independent 94
Total 200

Guidance notes

SCQF Level - The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework provides an indication of the complexity of award qualifications and associated learning and operates on an ascending numeric scale from Levels 1-12 with SCQF Level 10 equating to a Scottish undergraduate Honours degree.

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2021/22 , and may be subject to change for future years.