Forensic Science and the Law

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Module code


Legal systems, courts and jurisdictions, court structures and powers; expert witnesses and expertise; expert witnesses in court; managing novel and complex science in court; inquiries into death; interpretation of forensic evidence and evidence evaluation; contentious forensic evidence cases; miscarriages of justice; interpretation of forensic evidence and evidence evaluation; physical forensic evidence and the chain of custody.


The purpose of the assessment is to establish how well the students have understood the uses and applications of forensic evidence within the legal system so they can use some of their knowledge and understanding in the creation of imaginative work.

Students will be asked to write a report on the mock trials they observe from students on CA52010. This will be analogous to the Literary Salon report used on other Creative Writing modules, and will be weighted at 20%.

The remaining 80% will comprise a detailed analysis of the use of forensic evidence in a historical case. This analysis can be written as a fictional or a non-fiction account. 

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Summarise the role of the forensic scientist within criminal justice systems
  • Critically evaluate the use of forensic science evidence
  • Evaluate and imaginatively interpret the conceptual and practical expert witness skills observed simulation mock trial exercise
  • Evaluate the role of the forensic science expert witness in criminal justice systems and understand the codes of conduct that students on CA52010 will have to observe.


  • To equip students with a broad knowledge of police structure, criminal investigation, scene of crime infrastructure, medico-legal procedures, and their relevance to the criminal justice system
  • To provide a comprehensive background to current forensic science practice in the UK and international criminal justice systems
  • To introduce the methodological, practical and conceptual boundaries of forensic science evidence within these jurisdictions
  • To provide a conceptual framework of the roles and responsibilities of the expert witness
  • To equip students with the appropriate set of skills that will enable them to produce an imaginative work that shows understanding and application of forensic science and/or its application in the criminal justice system.



Dr Lucina Hackman



The learning will be delivered through a lecture based module, with an emphasis on critical evaluation of the methodological, practical and conceptual boundaries of forensic science expert evidence admissible within international jurisdictions.

 Students will be expected to read the recommended scientific and law-based literature.

Students will be encouraged to think laterally around current problems and offer opinions that are open to full class, or small group, discussion. Students will have maximum access to academic staff during these sessions.

 10 x 2 hour lectures and workshops with 8-12 hours of practical exercises which will include observing and reporting on case presentation with individual legal advocates and expert witness delivery within a mock trial scenario. These exercises will enable the students to gain a realistic knowledge of the work of the forensic expert.