|About this course:|
|Course work includes:|
|No residential school|
Forensic science is rarely out of the news, whether for its triumphs in solving crimes or for questions raised by its use or sometimes misuse. This course is for people who have a basic knowledge of chemistry, DNA and genetics and who want to understand how this science is applied to crime scene investigations. Elements of forensic science is one of a series of short, five month 10-credit courses introducing fascinating topics in science. With a choice of start dates it enables you to try out an area of study before you commit yourself to a longer course, or top up your knowledge and skills between longer courses.
Forensic science is the application of scientific knowledge to questions of civil and criminal law. Interest in forensic science has grown considerably in recent years and this is reflected in the abundance of media coverage and popular TV programmes. The course explores how forensic scientists work, the techniques they use and how they reach the conclusions they present in court. Forensic science uses a wide range of scientific techniques so it can become very complex to study, although every attempt is made in the course to ensure that the science is accessible. In this course we focus on topics relating to the human body. You will learn about fingerprints, body fluids, drugs and DNA. DNA testing is a fascinating topic and many controversial cases hinge on DNA evidence. You will find out why DNA is such a useful substance in forensic science and some of the reasons why its use can be controversial.
Forensic science is not just about making scientific measurements. For a successful and safe prosecution in court it is crucial that the correct processes and procedures are followed to tie the accused to the crime scene unambiguously. You will learn about the ‘forensic process’; how the police and forensic scientists work together to take a structured and logical approach to collecting, analysing and presenting forensic data. The understanding you will gain of the importance and significance of scientific evidence can be applied in a wide range of other contexts.
Some of the scientific concepts underpinning forensic science will be introduced and reinforced at appropriate points in the course, including the techniques used to separate one substance from another.
By the end of the course you will have a good understanding of some of the processes involved in forensic science from the crime scene to the courtroom. You will also have developed a range of study skills associated with retrieving and interpreting information from a variety of sources. At the end of the course you will be asked to use some articles and other information about a particular crime or crimes to analyse the processes and comment on the use of data in that situation.
The course is based around approximately half the chapters in the study book, Forensic Science, by Andrew and Julie Jackson. You will be guided through these chapters by a specially written study book, which provides some of the background science, and there will be questions and activities to help you test your understanding. There will also be a website with activities and links to other interesting and informative sites.
The course assumes a basic knowledge of chemistry and biology, particularly DNA and genetics. The nature of the subject means that some parts of the course are conceptually fairly demanding, so if you are new to studying at university level you are advised not to take this as your first course. We recommend Molecules, medicines and drugs: a chemical story (SK185) and Human genetics and health issues (SK195) as suitable short courses to study before S187. Alternatively, the science in Exploring science (S104) is excellent preparation. If your science background is limited or ‘rusty’, revision material will be available on a website but study of it will be outside the time allocated for the course.
If you already have some scientific knowledge there is still plenty for you to learn, as forensic science has its own challenges and disciplines. You must be prepared to study some parts of the study book in detail, while other, often more complex, sections will be studied at a superficial level, so you will have to accept that you may not understand in depth all you are reading. This is an important skill that professional scientists have to develop.
You should be able to read and understand written English of a style and complexity characteristic of feature length articles and science reports in ‘quality’ newspapers; you should also be able to communicate your thoughts clearly and comprehensibly in a written format. Mathematically, you need to be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide.
If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.
A proportion of the course is delivered online via the course website, so you will have to spend some time using a personal computer and the internet. Written transcripts of the audio-visual material are available.
Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader and scientific or diagrammatic materials may be particularly difficult to read in this way. Other alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future. Our Services for disabled students website has the latest information about availability.
If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Services for disabled students website for more information, including:
Two books (the OU study book and Forensic Science by Andrew and Julie Jackson), study guide, website with links to resources on forensic science, maths skills ebook.
Basic scientific calculator.
You will need a computer with internet access to study this course as it includes online activities, which you can access using a web browser.
You can also visit the Technical requirements section for further computing information including the details of the support we provide.
You can contact a team of expert science study advisers through an online discussion forum, and they will be able to help you with academic questions to do with the course and the assessment. There will also be an online discussion forum that you can use to get in touch with other students.
Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.
The assessment details for this course can be found in the facts box above.
You must use the online system to submit your end-of-module assessment (EMA).
You have to submit the single piece of written work for assessment after 21 weeks. There will be no other opportunity to complete the course.
The details given here are for the course that starts in October 2013 when it will be available for the last time.
Students who studied this course also studied at some time:
To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.
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The Open University is the world’s leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you’re at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you’ll be supported throughout your studies – your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.
For more information read Distance learning explained.
|About this course:|
|Course work includes:|
|No residential school|
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