Over again, Coursera is presenting its another online course, “Introduction to Forensic science”.
Coursera is offering it with Nanyang Technological University to provide the information regarding the work of forensic science scientists. This course will also tell us about the science behind their work.
The objective of this course is to elucidate the scientific ethics and techniques behind the work of forensic scientists and will be demonstrated with several case studies from Singapore and around the world.
Topics covered in this course are:
-How did forensics come about? What is the role of forensics in policework? Can these methods be used in non-criminal areas?
-Blood. What is it? How can traces of blood be found and used in evidence?
-Is DNA chemistry really so powerful?
-What happens (biologically and chemically) if someone tries to poison me? What happens if I try to poison myself?
-How can we tell how long someone has been dead? What if they have been dead for a really long time?
-Can a little piece of a carpet fluff or a single hair, convict someone?
-Was the (ex-) Emperor Napoleon murdered by the perfidious British, or killed by his wallpaper?
This course will start from May 19, 2014.
This course will run for 8 weeks and estimated effort of 6-8 hours/week is required from each student.
Online Course Provider
Nanyang Technological University and Coursera
Applicants must have knowledge of High School or O-level science.
Synopsis: The first section illustrates the scope and diversity of forensic science, and places it in its legal context. Basic ideas, such as association and reconstruction are discussed, the all important Locard exchange principle is expounded and some of the limits of forensic science are suggested. The ideas in the Introduction underpin all subsequent sections.
Case studies in this section: Walter Dinivan and Jetkor Singh; The Roberto Calvi case; Buck Ruxton and the Jigsaw Murders; The 2005 London bombings; The Brides in the Bath; Gareth Williams; The Wood Chipper murders.
Topic 1: Spectroscopy and the Structure of Atoms
Synopsis: This section seeks to link the concept of atomic structure with the methods for the determination of the presence of different elements in a given sample. This allows students to understand how these techniques can be reliable and sensitive.
Case studies in this section: The Death of Napoleon; The Kennedy Assassination; Adam, the Torso in the Thames
Topic 2: Chromatography and Molecular Spectroscopy
Synopsis: Some of the ideas of the preceding section are extended here, as they can apply to the analyses of compounds. The methods of Chromatography, Infra-red spectroscopy and mass spectrometry are also discussed. These are essential for later sections, such as Drugs and Toxicology.
Topic 1: Time of Death
Synopsis: The changes that the body and bodily remains undergo on time scales ranging from minutes to centuries are key to determining the time of death. These are surveyed in this section.
Case studies in this section: Peter Thomas; Danielle van Dam; Ötzi.
Topic 2: Blood
Synopsis: Blood will be spilled in violent crimes. In this section, methods to identify and individualise blood are discussed, but DNA methods are left to a separate section. The information that can be deduced from blood spatter is discussed.
Case studies in this section: Christopher Nudds; Lord Lucan
Synopsis: DNA has become essential and ubiquitous in forensic science. The nature of DNA and how it can be employed are presented in this section. The section includes the first DNA case, cold cases, paternity and maternity testing, mitochondrial DNA and several other topics.
Case studies in this section: Colin Pitchfork, The Identification of the Last Tsar of Russia; The story of Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees.
Topic 1: Fingerprinting
Synopsis: Fingerprinting is introduced by a short history. The composition, means of visualisation and classification of fingerprints is discussed, and the question of faking them is raised.
Case studies in this section: The Pioneering Stratton Brothers; the Brandon Mayfield Debacle.
Topic 2: Polymers and Fibres
Synopsis: Fibres, whether natural or synthetic, make up a large part of our world and how they can be used in forensic science is the subject of this section. This includes discussion of the different kinds of fibre, how to distinguish and individualise them. The importance of hair is highlighted. This section draws upon knowledge from the spectroscopy and chromatography sections.
Case studies in this section: Robert Curley; Wayne Williams; Sarah Payne
Topic 3: Firearms
Synopsis: Around the World, firearms are involved in many crimes. In this section, a brief history and explanation of firearms is presented. Forensic topics, including GSR and striations are discussed.
Case studies in this section: The Jill Dando Shooting
Synopsis: A survey of some of the more significant drugs is presented.
Synopsis: Poisoning, accidental, deliberate or occupational dates back into the mists of antiquity. In this section, different aspects of toxicology are introduced and Paracelsus’ concept of poison is discussed. Specific poisons, such as arsenic, sarin and thallium, are discussed in detail. Classifying harmful substances.
Case studies in this section: Florence Maybrick; The Maine poisoning; Graham Young and his Strange Hobby; Paul Agutter and the Toxic Tonic; Georgi Markov and the Poisoned Umbrella; Alexander Litvinenko
Topic: Case studies
Synopsis: The course comes to its completion with a number of case studies that highlight important aspects of forensic science and some additional topics.
Case studies in this section: The King in the Carpark; Annie Le; Peter Griffiths; Jon Benet Ramsey; George Metesky; Rachel Nickell; Ted Kacynski; The Soham murders; Dr Crippen
Applicants who will successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment.
Online Course Staff
He is an organic chemist by training. He has been teaching Forensic Science by accident since 2005. He has acquired his PhD from Imperial College, London and followed this with postdoctoral work at Colorado State University. Presently he is an Associate Professor of Chemistry.
You can apply for the course by following this link.