NATS 1008 Forensic Science

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 300806

Coordinator Alicia Haines Opens in new window

Description This subject aims to give students a basic understanding of scientific methodology as it applies to the collection, analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence. Students are introduced to a range of crime scene investigation methods and analysis methods that are used with various types of forensic evidence. The concept of individualisation is introduced and the importance of this concept in forensic science is explained. Case studies are used to explain the concepts discussed in this subject. The role of human factors is discussed, together with the importance of critically evaluating forensic evidence and the means by which it was obtained.

School Science

Discipline Forensic Science

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 2 10cp

Check your fees via the Fees page.

Level Undergraduate Level 1 subject

Equivalent Subjects NATS 1006 - Forensic Science NATS 1007 - Forensic Science

Assumed Knowledge

Basic academic skills, including the ability to write essays in English at a level appropriate to a first-year undergraduate student.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:
  1. Identify physical evidence and determine its significance and value.
  2. Explain the use of basic scientific methodology as it applies to the collection, analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence.
  3. Describe the basic principles of collecting and conserving forensic evidence and give examples of standard procedures for maintaining evidence integrity and continuity.
  4. Apply identification concepts and methodologies to the collection, analysis and interpretation of evidence.
  5. Describe the value of trace evidence to forensic investigations, and explain the ways in which it may be collected and analysed.
  6. Evaluate case studies to illustrate a range of possible deficiencies in the way in which forensic evidence may be collected, analysed and interpreted.
  7. Critically evaluate the role of expert witnesses in the justice system.
  8. Communicate the results of forensic investigation correctly in written form, using an appropriate language style, placing the findings in context of the forensic investigation.

Subject Content

Explanation of what is considered physical evidence and the purpose of collecting and analysing physical evidence
Basic scientific methodology as it applies to the collection, analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence
Principles of collecting and conserving forensic evidence, including crime-scene protection, contemporaneous note taking, chain of custody, and quality management
Presumptive testing and its role in crime scene investigation
An introduction to spectroscopy and its incorporation in crime scene investigation
The concepts of evidence integrity and continuity
History of the concept of identification and its development
Identification concepts and methodology, including pattern matching / comparative analysis, classification, elimination of suspects and databases
Analysis of a range of forensic evidence and its interpretation within the concept of identification
The role of the expert witness within the justice system, including presentation of evidence, and an introduction to the Australian judicial system
An introduction to contemporary issues in forensic science
Quality Control and Quality Assurance in evidence handling and forensic analysis
A range of case studies, including satisfactory and unsatisfactory use of forensic evidence


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Type Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Practical ~ 1000 words in total (written during the practicals) 20 N Both (Individual & Group)
Essay 1,500 words 30 N Individual
Final Exam 2 hrs 50 N Individual

Prescribed Texts

  • Saferstein, R. 2015, Criminalistics: an introduction to forensic science, 11th edn, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ

Teaching Periods

Autumn (2024)



Subject Contact Brenden Riley Opens in new window

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