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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 429 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at FutureLearn based on 291 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.

  • I've enjoyed this course a lot, everything was easy to understand. I managed to learn a lot within two weeks. Thank you.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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…
  • 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.
  • Anonymous
    The course was recommended to an audience by Jennifer Rees on a tour and encouraged me to investigate a topic that I'd never previously considered before. As someone who isn't particularly interested in Science, but is into History, crime and the impact of technology on establishing a clearer understanding of our past, it was interesting to see the steps taken in a real investigation, in addition to gaining insight into more of the human anatomy. It was clear, informative and appropriate for a wide range of users. The fact that it was free was an added bonus.
  • Anonymous
    This course itself is like an essential guide for the people not familiar with such a science discipline. Myself - I am interested in criminal case solving and many sorts of crime investigations, so I found that 2 week learning very interesting and brain-stimulating with all the facts presented during the whole course. I may highly recommend that one.
  • Profile image for Krishika Katyal
    Krishika Katyal
    The course was absolutely intriguing. I had an astounding experience of learning the recreation of the face of an unknown individual just with their skeletal remains. I’m looking forward to engaging in more such amazing courses.
  • 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
    Great compact course with general information as well as the opportunity to follow a real forensic case from discovery to idenification.
  • 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.
  • Profile image for Aabad Khan
    Aabad Khan
    This course is very nice explanation and videos are very good.topic covered and quizs are also good.this course help me alot to study forensic science.

  • 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.

    I enjoyed the course and found it very interesting. The quality of the presenters was impressive. One comment I have is that there was less interaction between the students and the mentor(s) than I've seen on any other course I've taken. For examp…
  • 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 understa…
  • 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
    I don't have a very 'scientific' brain but picked this course because it was only two weeks and I thought it wouldn't tax me too much. I found it well taught and relatively easy to understand. It made an extremely interesting introduction to the Subject and concluded with the scientific and human story being brought together - excellent
  • Sarah Jones
    This was a really informative course. I learnt quite a few things I didn’t know. I do come from a medical background so did have some knowledge but still learnt from it and found it really interesting. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone with interest of resolving murder cases and how they find who people are
  • Anonymous
    Well presented, information and interesting course.
    I enjoyed being able to follow the investigation from start to finish.
    Explanations of how each department/team work together to analyse data was great.

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