Forensic Applications of Biological Sciences 4Y option BIOL4049

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Life Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course develops the application of the knowledge gained in the life science degrees to the wider area of Forensic Science. Students will learn the principles of crime scene management and explore the use of the skeleton to aid identification by determining sex, age and stature. Students will also explore the Forensic Toxicology investigation and pharmacology of a number of drugs of abuse, particularly alcohol, as well as individual identification and relationship testing through DNA analysis. In addition to gaining knowledge and skills in the areas of forensic anatomy, toxicology and DNA applications, students will develop abilities in independent research and analysis, gaining a greater appreciation of the wide applications of science in society, specifically in the legal field. Students will also be equipped with many generic transferable skills including communication skills, critical analysis, problem solving skills and reflective practice. 


There is normally 3 hours of teaching on Fridays. 

Requirements of Entry

Normally, only available to final-year School of Life Sciences students in a Degree Group B (Biomolecular Sciences group) or Degree Group C (Human Life Sciences group) programme. Visiting students may be allowed to enrol, at the discretion of the School of Life Sciences Chief Adviser and the Course Coordinator. 

Excluded Courses



The course will be assessed by a 2-hour examination (75%) and in-course written assessment under examination conditions (25%). For the in-course written assessment, students will write short answer questions or perform calculations. 

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The aim of this course is to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the specialist field of forensic sciences, building on knowledge and skills gained from the Forensic Investigations block of the Level-2 course Key Skills in Biology. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students will be able to: 

■ Distinguish human form and function, specifically in the form of the human skeleton and its components; 

■ Differentiate human from non-human remains and assess how to determine age, sex and race from human skeletal remains; 

■ Distinguish the more common pathological and surgical interventions which may have occurred pre-mortem in human remains; 

■ Discuss the action and metabolism of drugs, especially those usually involved in civil and criminal legal cases; 

■ Evaluate the detection of drugs in the body, especially those usually involved in civil and criminal legal cases; 

■ Evaluate the methodologies of DNA profiling in individual identification and relationship testing;

■ Apply independent research to solve problems and present and interpret the results.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.