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The University of Sheffield

Forensic Facial Reconstruction: Finding Mr. X

The University of Sheffield via FutureLearn


Solve the mystery of the body in the bag

On Saturday 22 January 2000, two men found a small holdall, abandoned on an industrial estate in the north of Sheffield. Upon opening the bag they made a gruesome discovery. A badly decomposed body.

Who was this person? Why did they die? Where had the body been stored all of this time?

On this course from The University of Sheffield, you’ll learn alongside the experts who worked to determine the identity of Mr. X. You’ll discover the forensic science techniques that were used to identify the body and understand the circumstances surrounding their death.

This course is suitable for anyone interested in how forensic anatomy and facial reconstruction can assist police investigations. No prior qualifications in forensic science or other disciplines are required.

Students and practitioners in the fields of archaeology, anatomy, and anthropology may gain valuable insights into the use of anatomy expertise in forensic work that they can apply to their study and work in the field.


  • The story in the bones
    • Welcome to the course
    • Forensic anatomy: identifying human remains
    • What information can a skull reveal?: Sex
    • What information can a skull reveal?: Ethnicity
    • What information can teeth reveal?
    • Do we have enough to identify the body?
  • Reconstructing the face
    • When would you need a facial reconstruction?
    • The anatomy of the face
    • Reconstructing the face
    • Finding Mr. X: solving the case
    • Career and study in Forensic Anatomy and Facial Reconstruction

Taught by

Katherine Linehan


4.8 rating, based on 421 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at FutureLearn based on 281 ratings

Start your review of Forensic Facial Reconstruction: Finding Mr. X

  • This course diverges a lot from the regular Futurelearn courses I had dealt with earlier. The course has something weighing in on me in every chapter; a sense of relief, a collective sense of duty, a genuine cause. Every click of the subsequent chapters turns pages of progressive investigation of years. This course is highly supererogatory. Meanwhile, kindly check Durham's "Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology" course, which would be an excellent follow-up to this one.

  • Naser Aldhawi completed this course.

    Forensic Facial Reconstruction for me is quite new I learned many things about how to find the criminals or suspected murders and to investigate and the meaning of Forensic many specialists can participate, Anthropologist pathologist Anatomy and got new Idea that after death long period we can reconstruction human remains to find out the reason of the death and functionalist of many parts of the body and how to make clay for reconstruction
  • Fantastic course. I learned many things!!!!!

    Forensic Facial Reconstruction is a wonderful job. This course showed me something fantastic about the police's job. I recomend to everyone that loves investigation.
  • I like this course so much, it was helpful, consist all basic information and reading sooo interesting. I would like to learn more actually about this topic, so only pity this course is hort: only 2 weeks long.
  • I've enjoyed this course a lot, everything was easy to understand. I managed to learn a lot within two weeks. Thank you.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I signed up for this course following an email from Futurelearn and have to say that I am glad that I did. It is well paced and easy to follow and whilst it is obviously only covering the basics I feel that I have learnt a lot about the human skull,...
  • RICK Lee
    I have always been a "BIG TIME" TV detective, I enjoy watching crime programs like Dateline or Forensic Files, in which I try to solve the crime before the announcer does.
    Prior to taking this course, I never knew any of the steps that it took to start from nothing and be able to solve a murder.
    I have enjoyed sharing/reading ideas, comments, and remarks from my fellow classmates, and am looking forward to the next session.
  • شكرًا جزيلاً على إنشاء مثل هذه الدورة التدريبية الشيقة لك! إنني أقدر كل الجهود التي بذلها كل من شارك في الدورة. لقد تعلمت الكثير ووسعت أفقى. نأمل أن أراك مرة أخرى في دورة علمية أخرى. شكرًا لك!
    معا تحياتي: اسلام احمد قمحان
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I found this course really interesting and informative as it gave a real insight into what it takes to reconstruct someone's face. I liked how the individual facial muscles were highlighted in separate diagrams as it made it much clearer to understand,...
  • Anonymous
    It is a very informative course detailing what can be achieved with this specific knowledge; it also gives an insight of what other sciences can be called upon to achieve a satisfactory end result in a case, these could be of interest to future learning also.

    The two media downloads was a good ending to the 'story' of the demise of Mr X as this contained a lot of information which did not need to be included in the actual science of facial recognition but was interesting to see the whole picture.
  • Anonymous
    This was a fascinating introduction and I would recommend it to others who express an interest in facial reconsruction. Unfortunately, I was unable to access certain links provided; however, other students shared links they found. This case is from 2000. It is now 2022 - almost 2023. perhaps amore up to date case can be used. Well done!
  • Anonymous
    This course is very educational and informative I really enjoyed the facial reconstruction and finding out who Mr. X is and how he died. I learned a lot in this course, And I know this will be very usual in my studies and the field of Criminal Justice
  • Profile image for Moohialdin A.
    Moohialdin A.
    It is so great . that i learned a lot of things in facial reconstruction espically how determin the depth of tissue and applaying on the cast or on skull. i want to learn more and more in this scince .
  • Ibrahim Ridwan Madaki
    I really appreciate this cause of mine initially I thought I can't do it the fact that I'm a law student but when I stated I find it more interesting and more important in time of finding Mr X's and the identification of the male and female skeleton and their ethnicity I indeed appreciate the cause
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed this course, very interesting and i get alot of knowledge about forensic facial reconstruction.
  • Anonymous
    Very interesting and great introduction into how ethnicity, sex etc are helped to be determined by skull and bones
  • Rena Marks
    This course was so informative and interesting I would recommended it to anyone regardless of age. Thank-you for a fascinating look into Forensic science.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Very interesting course for a Private Investigator, USA. facial reconstructions were stunning! An excellent introductory course. I pared it with the Forensic Psychology : Witness Investigation course to keep me well rounded.
    Facial Reconstruction can be completed relatively quickly & has led me to sign up for three other courses.
    Class is not to hard for beginners, well done!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I found the course immensely interesting as it dealt with a real investigation of a murder and the application of justice. The techniques used in facial reconstruction are truly astounding. The course material was presented in an easy to understand way by the well trained and skilled professional researchers.
  • Anonymous
    Thoughtful and well organized without being overwhelmingly detail oriented, this is an excellent beginning course in facial reconstruction. I would recommend this course to background required. However, visual learners, people with an organismic biology background, and those with artistic talent and an interest in reconstructing the past, i.e. the past appearance of someone, will find this course not only interesting but engaging and perhaps spark continuation in further education in this field.

    Best to all,

    Tony Harper

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