`Identifying the Dead’ – your turn to take on a forensic challenge

Crime author Val McDermid’s latest story has all the ingredients you may expect – a body found on a hill in the centre of Dundee, a mystery as to its identity, police looking for the help of a forensic investigator.

The dream of all crime fiction fans is that they be the one who steps into that vital role. Now they can, thanks to a new online course being launched on FutureLearn by the University of Dundee and its world-renowned Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification.

FutureLearn enables millions for people around the world to share learning experiences, free of charge, through massive open line courses MOOCS). A global community of learners will be able to work together to solve the author’s latest mystery.

Anyone can sign up to the free course and pick their way through the plot, which will unfold over six weeks and require them to solve the mysteries presented by the dead body. They will be presented with pieces of evidence and video footage around the case.

Filming for the course has already sparked an alert after locals who spotted people in uniform and police tape thought there had been an actual incident on the Law.

“At CAHID we work on this kind of investigation all the time, helping police in criminal investigations and identifying bodies in all manner of different circumstances,” said Dr Helen Meadows, of the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification and project manager for the course.

“What we are doing with this course is giving everyone a chance to get a taste of that. We know from the millions of people who watch programmes like `CSI’ or read crime writers such as Val that there is an incredible level of interest in forensic sciences and their relationship to helping solve criminal cases or mysteries.

“This course will give a real insight into the work we do. It is also set at a level where people don’t require any prior specialist knowledge and it is suitable for anyone from 14 to 114. We would encourage as many people as possible to give it a try.”

Registration for the course, which is free, is open now at www.futurelearn.com/courses/identifying-the-dead/

The course will start in September and will be accessed entirely online. The story by Val McDermid which underpins the course will also be available to download but only when the course is completed.

Participants can take an exam at the end of a course for a fee, although this is entirely optional.

The course is the second MOOC – massive open online course – launched by the University of Dundee after signing an agreement with the FutureLearn platform. FutureLearn reaches almost two million people in more than 190 countries around the world with free online courses from some of the world’s leading educators.

MOOCs are free to access and enable a wide audience to engage with higher education. The first course offered by Dundee is on Antimicrobial Stewardship, delivered in partnership with the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and focusing on one of the world’s emergent health problems.


Notes to Editors


The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) at the University of Dundee is headed by Professor Sue Black. It is one of the world’s foremost institutions for the study and application of human anatomy, forensic human identification, disaster victim identification and forensic and medical art. It was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education 2014.


About FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a social learning platform based in the UK and providing free, online courses from world-class educators. The partnership consists of higher and specialist education institutions from the UK and around the world, alongside cultural icons like the British Library, British Council and the British Museum. All these offer high quality courses to anyone with an internet connection, anywhere in the world. The FutureLearn course experience centres on social interaction, whereby people learn by engaging in conversations around the learning material. FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University (UK), which has over 40 years’ expertise in distance and online learning. For more information, visit www.futurelearn.com.


For media enquiries contact:
Roddy Isles
Head of Press
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
TEL: 01382 384910
MOBILE: 07800 581902
E-MAIL: r.isles@dundee.ac.uk