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Forensic Science and Criminal Justice

University of Leicester via FutureLearn

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Over the past two decades, the criminal justice system has been dramatically affected by technological advances in scientific contributions to the law. The most influential developments have been in the area of DNA profiling, and its forensic applications for both identifying perpetrators and exonerating the innocent.

Although there have been some extraordinary victories for the forensic science community in recent years, there has also been scepticism about the infallibility of some forensic science practices, and the interpretation of physical evidence in the courtroom.

This free online course begins by introducing you to the historical context of forensic science and how science is used by the police during criminal investigations.

We will then explore some of the implications that these forensic techniques have on the criminal justice system, such as controversies surrounding biometric databases, the portrayal of forensic science in popular media (“the CSI effect”), and how forensic science is used in the courtroom.

Finally, we will consider what the future of forensic science looks like and where the discipline may be heading in the years to come.

Previous learner, Lynda, said: “I have always been very interested in criminology subjects so I found it fascinating and informative. I just loved the course!” Find out more in her learner story.

No prior qualifications in forensic science or other disciplines are required. Students should have an interest in how science assists police investigations, and how forensic science impacts on the criminal justice system.

Taught by

Lisa Smith


3.9 rating, based on 8 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Forensic Science and Criminal Justice

  • Profile image for Alina Cincan
    Alina Cincan

    Alina Cincan completed this course.

    Excellent course. Main advantages? It's free and you can study it at your own pace. The language used is accessible to everyone, they use a variety of materials (including video and audio), you can also download them for future use.
    I'd have loved to see/discuss more real cases, but overall it was a fantastic course. Thank you, Dr John Bond and Dr Lisa Smith. And thank you, University of Leicester and FutureLearn! Now on to the next course!
  • Clement Kamau
    Well outlined with the basic concepts well defined,easy to navigate,educative with much insight on all aspects of applicattion.An evryday course that thai is much helpful to the learner.
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