Forensic Science Online Single Semester

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This course surveys key topics in forensic science, including the application of the scientific process to forensic analysis, procedures and principles of crime scene investigation, physical and trace evidence, and the law and courtroom procedures from the perspective of the forensic scientist. Through online lessons, laboratories, and analysis of fictional crime scenarios, students learn about forensic tools, technical resources, forming and testing hypotheses, proper data collection, and responsible conclusions.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of at least two years of high school science, including Biology (or equivalent); Chemistry is highly recommended

Unit 1: Scientific Principles of Crime Investigation

The study of crime and crime scenes involves systematically obtaining data and applying scientific processes to understand the details of a crime. Students learn the history and theory of forensics and relate science to forensic science. They learn the importance—to investigation and the legal process—of accurately questioning, hypothesizing, analyzing data, concluding, and communicating. They apply scientific processes in focused activities.

  • Forensic Science Theory
  • Crime Scene
  • Lab: Crime Scene Sketch
  • Crime Scene Personnel
  • Lab: Measurement and Significant Figures
  • Crime Scene Photography

Unit 2: Evidence

Students learn that much of forensics involves collecting evidence and handling it properly. They review evidence from a "Crime Story" and learn about the science of death, decomposition, and autopsies. They study aspects of anthropology, odontology, and some facts about blunt force trauma and ballistics. Direct learning is augmented by hands-on and virtual laboratories.

  • Types of Evidence
  • Death and Decomposition
  • Autopsy
  • Lab: Human Digestion Actions
  • Forensic Entomology
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Forensic Odontology
  • Lab: Teeth
  • Blunt Force Trauma and Splatter
  • Ballistics
  • Lab: Ballistics and Splatter

Unit 3: Trace Evidence 1

Students are introduced to evidence left behind by hair, fibers, fluids, and footprints. They learn the special training and equipment needed to locate and identify different kinds of evidence. Many identification techniques involve chemical or biochemical procedures; for instance, forensic scientists rely on biology when dealing with some of the aspects of blood, DNA, and other forms of trace evidence.

  • Hair and Fibers
  • Pollen and Spores
  • Lab: Investigating Biological Compounds
  • Alcohol
  • Organic Analysis
  • DNA
  • Lab: DNA
  • Fingerprints
  • Lab: Fingerprints
  • Lab: Blood

Unit 4: Trace Evidence 2

Students continue their exploration of trace evidence, including the scientific methods used in the examination of tool marks, glass, and other forms of trace evidence. They learn how evidence is collected and interpreted. They also learn the basis for mineral identification in a virtual laboratory centered around presenting evidence to solve a crime.

  • Tool Marks
  • Glass
  • Soil Impressions
  • Footwear and Tire Marks
  • Lab: Rocks and Minerals
  • Poisons and Toxicology

Unit 5: Forensics of Certain Crimes

Students examine specific types of crimes and the peculiarities that challenge forensic investigator. Computer and financial crimes, arson, robbery, fraud, and others present unique types of forensic evidence. Forensic investigators need to know how and where to look for gross and trace evidence.

  • Personal Injury Crimes
  • Drug Crimes
  • Gun Crimes
  • Computer Crimes and Digital Evidence
  • Financial Crime and Forensic Auditing
  • Arson and Explosion
  • Lab: Arson Evidence
  • Robbery and Theft
  • Fraud and Forgery
  • Document Analysis
  • Lab: Paper Chromatography
  • Handwriting Analysis
  • Lab: Handwriting

Unit 6: Forensics in the Legal System

Forensic evidence is also valuable to the legal personnel who must present it in a court of law. Forensic investigators must be aware of the rules of evidence as they apply to the legal system. This unit includes procedures of a criminal court hearing, the role of the investigator on the witness stand, and the effect of evidence presentation on jury decisions.

  • Law and Evidence
  • Courtroom Procedures
  • Presenting Evidence in the Courtroom
  • On the Witness Stand
  • On a Jury

Unit 7: Review and Exam

Students review what they have learned and take a final exam.

  • Review
  • Exam

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