ADVANCED METHODS IN FORENSIC INVESTIGATION - 2017/8

Module code: CHEM034

Module provider

Chemistry

Module Leader

BAILEY MJ Dr (Chemistry)

Number of Credits

15

ECT Credits

7.5

Framework

FHEQ Level 7

JACs code

F410

Module cap (Maximum number of students)

N/A

Module Availability

Semester 1

Overall student workload

Lecture Hours: 19

Seminar Hours: 6

Laboratory Hours: 3

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 20
Practical based assessment PRACTICAL 10
Examination EXAM - 2 HOURS 70

Alternative Assessment

None

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Satisfactory completion of FHEQ Level 5 and 6 Chemistry

Module overview

The module shows the relevance of current, continuing developments in biomolecular, physicochemical and analytical science in the application of science in the service of the law, poisonings and the investigation of suspicious deaths. Students are introduced to the nature and molecular characteristics of “blood” and other body fluids, and thence to the DNA “fingerprinting”. Means by which finger marks can be enhanced and further analysed are considered, as are techniques currently under investigation which may lead to step change in the sophistication of information available from such marks and also from trace evidence. The key role of analytical science in forensic toxicology is considered and illustrated, followed by detailed consideration of the scientific evidence available in a range of high profile cases such as the death of Princes Diana, the Shipman murders and the death of Michael Jackson.

Module aims

To examine the scope and background of forensic investigation of body fluids and other biological material

To give a detailed account of techniques used in advanced biomedical analysis.

To consider a range of novel developmental methods in forensic science and their potential to add to the toolbox for forensic investigators.

To outline the scope of forensic toxicology.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
Give a critique of the various techniques used in a biomedical laboratory and when to use them
Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the chemistry of body fluids and understanding of the value of evidence gathered from them
Provide an informed discussion of developing methodologies in forensic investigation, gain competence in their practical use and of their potential for strategic innovation
Show critical awareness of the role played by forensic toxicology in forensic investigation
Give a detailed account of the interaction between fingerprints, reagents, substrates and the environment and evaluate current approaches in fingerprint research

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

Mammalian blood, ABO typing. Rhesus factor, blood collection and analysis, presumptive tests for blood, serology.

DNA: structure, base pairs, the genetic code, RNA, cell biology, mitochondrial DNA, chromosomes, sexual reproduction.

DNA in the cell, types of DNA profiling, RFLP, allele specific and STR.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), likelihood ratios.

CODIS and NDNAD databases, ethical considerations

The Colin Pitchfork case, possible surviving relatives of the Tsar, Syrian hamsters, seven daughters of Eve hypothesis.

Saliva, salivary amylase, RSID antibody test, whose saliva?

Semen, acid phosphatase, microscopic confirmation, whose semen?

New techniques in forensic science

Non-destructive methods and new imaging mass spectrometry methods.

Ion beam analysis of trace evidence: gunshot residue particles, solids, fibres, paints and glass.

Chemistry of fingerprints

Interaction of developers, substrate and environment, new types of development/visualisation, case studies

Forensic Toxicology

Poisons and routes through the body. Toxic dose. Sampling. Toxicology of “alcohol”. Road traffic offences. Other intoxicants. Drug facilitated offences. Toxicological aspects of solvent abuse and drug overdose.

Non-criminal and criminal case studies.

 

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

The student will build from their chemical knowledge to gain in-depth insights into modern and future (under development) techniques applied in forensic investigation.  The utility of these techniques will be discussed through examples which exemplify the underlying science and the correct application of those techniques. The seminar content will extend students’ understanding of the role of forensic investigation, its strengths and limitations via an introduction to forensic toxicology, with extensive use made of non-confidential contemporary case studies.

The learning and teaching methods include:



24 hours of formal lectures


Seminar teaching (6 hours) by a visiting lecturer (A Forensic Toxicologist)


1 hour practical session and report


Coursework report providing a critical overview of the shortcomings of modern forensic science and how developing methods may provide key innovations for the forensic investigator (to be written in the format of a literature review to be published in Forensic Science International or similar).



 

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate a developed understanding and experience of current, continuing developments in biomolecular, physicochemical and analytical science in the application of science in the service of the law, poisonings and the investigation of suspicious deaths.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

·         Coursework: report providing a critical overview of the shortcomings of modern forensic science and how developing methods may provide key innovatios for the forensic investigator (to be written in the format of a literature review to be published in Forensic Science International or similar). (Week 9, 20%) [LOs assessed 2,3]

·         Practical: A report of a brief practical and of associated data analysis in the area of use of electron microscopy with EDX in the examination of trace evidence from a crime scene and of possible related suspect trace evidence. (10%) [LOs assessed 3]

·         Examination: [LOs assessed 1-5] (Week 14, 2 hours, closed book, 70%)

 

Formative assessment and feedback

Formative assessment and feedback are provided throughout the module in the form of in-class exercises, examples and worked problems as appropriate. Feedback is instant as model answers (full worked solutions) are given in class. Formative assessment is also evident through the provision of ‘checklists’ at the end of each section of the module that detail the areas covered in that part of the course.

Detailed and individualised feedback is given on the marked assignments within the time allowed for marking coursework.

 

Reading list

Reading list for ADVANCED METHODS IN FORENSIC INVESTIGATION : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/chem034

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemistry with Forensic Investigation MChem 1 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Chemistry MChem 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Chemistry MRes 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.