- UCAS course code
- UCAS institution code
Year of entry: 2021
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Course unit details:
From Sherlock Holmes to CSI
|Unit level||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Offered by||Centre for History of Science, Technology & Medicine (L5)|
|Available as a free choice unit?||Yes|
We all know what a crime scene looks like today – hooded, white-suited investigators carefully searching for traces of evidence from behind police tape. But what do we know about its history? What did a crime scene look like a century ago, and what happened in it?
Through a historical perspective, students will look at a wide range of forensic investigation techniques. From lie detectors and DNA ‘fingerprinting’ to detective fiction, newspaper reports of murder trials, and present-day TV forensic dramas; students will investigate who make claims to forensic truth and what tools and techniques they use to arrive at that conclusion.
The unit investigates the growing literature on the legal application of medical and scientific expertise. It contextualises contemporary understandings of and interest in forensics and its popular representations, and considers the history of forensics as a practical example of the dynamics of public understanding of science.
This unit does not require prior scientific, legal or historical knowledge; just a curiosity about styles of forensic investigation, past and present.
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The unit investigates the growing literature on the legal application of medical and scientific expertise. It contextualises contemporary understandings of and interest in forensics and its popular representations; and considers the history of forensics as a practical example of the dynamics of public understanding of science.
On completion of the unit students will be able to:
- Describe and analyse the social, institutional and technical foundations of specific forensic techniques
- Describe historical developments in 19th and 20th century forensic medicine and science
- Review the historical impact of popular representations of forensics
- Identify and interpret debates in the medical, scientific, legal and public domains concerning the ethics and
- credibility of forensic evidence
- Prepare and defend well-argued contributions to interdisciplinary group debates
In addition, for 20 credits:
• Research and write a literature-based review, integrating scientific, historical and social viewpoints
- Histories of Forensics and Crime
- Poisonous Victorians
- Determining Sanity
- Criminal Identity
- Tales from the Dead
- Make the Crime Scene
- Experts and Trust
- The DNA Revolution
- Watching the Detectives
Teaching and learning methods
11 x 2 hour lectures/seminars
- Analytical skills
- Students critically examine case studies using primary and secondary literature and analyse the topics covered using both quantitative and qualitative materials
- Students have the opportunity to be innovative in terms of how they address their essay topic
- Oral communication
- Students encouraged to take part in discussion of the lecture material during seminar sessions
- Research required for essay and project
|Written assignment (inc essay)||50%|
Students are encouraged ask questions at any time during lectures and seminars. Teaching staff will answer specific queries by email and during office hours, and will provide contact details in the course handbook or at lectures. All submitted coursework will be returned with annotations and an assessment sheet explaining the mark awarded.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Independent study hours|
|Ian Burney||Unit coordinator|