This course explores the basic concepts and the main areas of forensic science. It will examine the use and interpretation of physical forensic evidence in court. It will evaluate the major forensic sciences currently used in criminal investigations, as well crime scene procedures. Topics examined may include anthropology, fingerprints, biology including serology and DNA, trace evidence, toxicology, firearms and tool mark evidence, questioned documents, and computer forensics.
- Introduction to Forensic Science
- Introduction to Death Investigations
- Identification of Human Remains
- Determining Time of Death including Decompositional Stages
- Forensic Taphonomy
- The Crime Scene
- Firearms and Tool Mark Examination
- Forensic Biology including DNA
- Forensic Serology
- Trace Evidence
- Fire and Explosion Investigation
- Forensic Toxicology
- Document Examination
- Computer Forensics
Methods of Instruction
The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:
- audio visual aids
- hands-on exercises
- small group discussions
Means of Assessment
Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College Policy. The instructor will provide written course outlines with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on some of the following: exams, term paper, class participation, and assigned ‘in-class’ tasks.
An example of an evaluation scheme would be:
At the conclusion of this course the successful student will be able to:
- Explain the basic concepts and fundamental principles of forensic science
- Discuss some of the major rules of evidence in Canada
- Explain class and individual evidence and its significance
- Discuss the methods used to determine age, sex, and ancestry
- Differentiate between tentative and positive identification methods
- Explain the importance of ‘estimating’ time since death
- Evaluate the methods of estimation of time since death in the early post-mortem, later post-mortem, and days or months after death
- Describe the sequence of events at a crime scene including the processing of the evidence
- Explain the value of fingerprint evidence
- Explain the legal and judicial role the coroner plays in death investigations
- Describe the types of examinations performed in the biology section of the crime lab
- Discuss the important characteristics, collection procedures, analytical tests, and limitations for each sample (hair, blood, semen, DNA, mtDNA)
- Explain the Locard’s Exchange Principle and how it relates to trace evidence and crime scene investigation procedures
- Describe the types of examinations performed in the chemistry section of the crime lab
- Explain the dual role of the toxicologist: analyzing and quantifying toxins and interpreting this information for the investigation
- Evaluate the common toxicological specimens (blood, urine, hair)
- Discuss the class and individual characteristics produced by the manufacture of tools that allows for the identification of a ‘tool’
- Explain why firearm identification is considered an extension of basic tool mark examination
- Describe parts of the gun that can produce both individual and class characteristics
- Discuss how gunshot residue analysis can be used to reconstruct a shooting
- Explain the three main areas of document examination
- Describe the comparisons and analyses the questioned document examiner performs
- Discuss factors that can affect handwriting comparisons
- Distinguish between disguise and simulation
- Describe how printing and typing machines, ink and paper can be evidence and discuss the analysis
- Discuss alterations of documents after their production
Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.
Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system.
A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.
For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.
If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.