FNSC5611 Ethics and Research Methods in Forensic Science

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
This unit encompasses three interrelated modules:

(1) Ethics in Forensic Science—this module covers the necessity for a professional ethical code, describes existing codes from various forensic societies, and describes ethical conflicts that can arise in the course of professional practice. The practical session covers a selection of case studies designed to provide students with the opportunity to discuss the ethical dilemmas involved in each and make suggestions on how they could be appropriately resolved.

(2) Research Methods in Forensic Science—these lectures focus on the relevance and application of the scientific method in modern forensic science, including formulating research questions, applying the appropriate research methodology, discussing the data (including through the use of statistics), and making recommendations based on the analysed results. The effective communication of research findings through scientific writing and oral presentations are also discussed. The practical exercises are designed to reinforce the scientific concepts being taught in the lectures and students are required to design and execute a strategy for analysing a forensic case study.

(3) Practical Applications of Forensic Science—industry professionals and research students deliver a series of lectures on the practical applications of a range of forensic disciplines, and contemporary issues are highlighted and discussed in detail.
Students are able to (1) describe the role and importance of ethics in forensic science; (2) describe how ethical conflicts may arise in the course of professional practice; (3) describe the role of the forensic scientist as an expert witness; (4) explain the laws that govern the admissibility of forensic evidence; (5) identify the various components of the scientific method and explain each; (6) explain the importance of communicating scientific research; (7) identify and apply the correct style and format of scientific writing across several mediums; (8) explain the importance of, and correct conventions for, referencing scientific research; (9) identify the resources available for undertaking a literature search; (10) identify and apply appropriate statistical methods in forensic science; (11) develop familiarity with current developments in basic forensic sciences; and (12) work competently as an individual and within groups.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) Written reports & practical work; (2) Critical review; and (3) Final theory exam. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Associate Professor Daniel Franklin
Contact hours
lectures: 2–3 hours per week; practicals: 1–2 hours per week; seminars: 6 x 2 hours
Unit Outline
Semester 1-2020 [SEM-1-2020]
  • 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.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.