12 x 50-minute lectures per semester
12 x 50-minute tutorials per semester
8 x 4-hour practicals per semester
4 x 3-hour field placements per semester
Topic description

This topic will expose students to key areas of forensic biology and will include:

  1. Body fluid testing including presumptive tests
  2. Microscopy for spermatozoa and scoring to determine time of deposition
  3. Blood pattern analysis including fluid dynamics, distances travelled, force applied, angle of impact, and crime scene reconstruction
  4. Damage to clothing
  5. Transfer of body fluids between two substrates
  6. The integration of diverse evidence types

An introduction to probability theory and Bayes' Theorem will allow the students to consider integrated data, such as the presence of a particular blood pattern linked to a person by DNA typing, when comparing an allegation compared to a proposition put forward by the defence. The way in which these data are reported will be part of this topic. It will be presented by a combination of staff from Forensic Science SA, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Rape Crisis Centre and College of Science and Engineering.

Educational aims

This topic aims to expose students to current practices in the investigation of forensic cases involving biological samples. These include sexual assaults, cell transfer, and persistence of trace evidence. Specifically this topic aims to give students:

  • A comprehensive knowledge of the various tests for bodily fluids, blood pattern analysis, transfer of body fluids, microscopic tests and damage to clothing
  • An understanding of the roles of different skilled persons in the processes of examination of alleged sexual assaults
  • An understanding of the use of probability theory and Bayes' Theorem to assist in the linking or elimination processes when interpreting forensic data
  • Hands-on training in the use of microscopy for spermatozoa and other biological specimens
  • Hands-on training in the investigation of damage to clothing
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the various tests for bodily fluids, blood pattern analysis, transfer of body fluids, microscopic tests and damage to clothing
  2. Explain the various methods of analysis used for examination of biological specimens, including presumptive tests and microscopy
  3. Integrate and link forensic data and test hypotheses by applying probability theory and Bayes' Theorem
  4. Demonstrate that their results are statistically valid and fall within laboratory quality control requirements
  5. Apply their knowledge in order to solve a range of complex forensic problems involving biological trace evidence