Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This unit introduces students to the application of science to a key public area—solving crime. Students experience the contextual application of each discipline to problem solving in forensic case work. Forensic science is the application of scientific principles and scientific disciplines to the investigation of criminal acts. The role of a forensic scientist is to present objective evidence and opinions that will assist the court with their deliberation process. Unit content covers the skills and analysis techniques used in modern forensic science encompassing crime scene protocols and evidence evaluation. The unit calls on the State's leading forensic experts including the Western Australian police forensic section. The lectures and practicals combine a broad view of the application of analytical skills in science with a continuing focus on crime solving. The handling of evidence involves both legal and ethical issues and these matters are raised and considered throughout the course content.

6 points
(see Timetable)
(see Summer Timetable)
Semester 2OnlineOnline timetabled
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Summer teaching periodOnlineOnline timetabled
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Criminology and Criminal Justice major sequence
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) describe the various forensic science disciplines, and how they can be applied to the investigation of crime; (2) appreciate the importance of ethical considerations in forensic science; (3) use the language of forensic science in an appropriate legal context; (4) apply concepts learned in forensic science to problem solving; (5) recognise the overlap of forensic science with other scientific and humanitarian disciplines; (6) appreciate the diversity of forensic science in the modern global context, with specific reference to Australia; and (7) develop and apply skills in critical thinking and describe the interplay between science and the law.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) research poster; (2) module tests; and (3) continual assessment (practical sessions). Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Daniel Franklin and Ambika Flavel and Dr Zuzana Obertová (Summer)
Unit rules
Advisable prior study
a background in biological
or social sciences
Contact hours
lectures released online (2 hours / week)
laboratories 8 x 2 hours. (Summer: taught in intensive mode)

The recommended text book is not a compulsory purchase. Hard copies can be borrowed from the Science Library (closed reserve) or students can access the online version via the UWA Library system (student log-on credentials are required).

Houck, M. M and Siegel, J. A. Fundamentals of Forensic Science, 2nd edn: Oxford Academic Press 2010

Additional Information Sources:

More information can be found in the following textbooks which are available in closed reserve in the Science library:

Goff, M. L. A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes: Harvard University Press 2001

Haglund, W. D. and Sorg, M. H. eds Forensic Taphonomy: the Post-mortem Fate of Human Remains: Boca Raton CRC Press 1996

Hunter, J., Roberts, C. and Martin, A. eds Studies in Crime: an Introduction to Forensic Archaeology: Batsford 1996

Freckelton, I. The Trial of the Expert: a Study of Expert Evidence and Forensic Experts: Oxford University Press 1987

Rathburn, T. A. and Buikstra, J. E. eds Human Identification: Case Studies in Forensic Anthropology: Charles C Thomas Pub Ltd 1987

Saferstein, R. Criminalistics: an Introduction to Forensic Science, 7th edn: Prentice Hall 2000

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.