Jun 01, 2023  
2021-2022 Catalog 
2021-2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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CHEM 180 - Survey of Forensic Science

5 credits

Recommended Preparation
MATH 060  or higher, placement in READ 090  or higher.

Survey of Forensic Science is a one quarter course designed for science and non-science majors. It focuses on the techniques used in the forensic evaluation of the physical evidence obtained from a crime. The course is intended to be a broad overview of the field of forensic science, but an emphasis is placed on the science behind the analytical techniques used in evaluating the physical evidence. Topics covered may include glass and soil analysis, drug analysis, hair, fibers, and paint analysis, fire investigation, fingerprints, firearms, tool marks, and other impression evidence, forensic toxicology, and bloodstain analysis.

AA Specified Elective
Satisfies specified elective requirements for the AA degree.

Course Outcomes
  • Understand and describe the basic services a typical comprehensive crime laboratory would have and explain the challenges of admissibility of scientific evidence in a courtroom
  • Explain what physical evidence is, describe the proper procedures for collecting it at a crime scene, and explain why the chain of custody is important
  • Explain what the common types of physical evidence are and describe the function of national databases available to forensic scientists
  • List and explain the forensic methods for comparing soil samples and glass fragments including the scientific principles behind the analysis
  • Describe the basic scientific principles behind chromatography and spectroscopy and explain how gas chromatography, thin-layer chromatography, ultraviolet spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry are used in the analysis of forensic samples that are organic (carbon-based)
  • Describe the parts of a typical microscope and explain compound microscopes, comparison microscopes, stereomicroscopes, electron microscopes, and microspectrophotometers are used by forensic scientists
  • Explain the classification system of commonly abused drugs and describe how various forensic samples are analyzed for the presence of illegal drugs
  • Understand basics of arson investigation and the closely related field of explosive materials and devices
  • Understand the basic principles of blood and blood analysis as well as blood spatter analysis at a crime scene
  • List and recognize the three major fingerprint patterns and their respective subclasses and describe how fingerprints are collected from a crime scene and analyzed
  • Explain how firearms, tool marks, and other types of impression evidence are collected at a crime scene and analyzed
  • Explain the scientific principles behind each of the forensic techniques described
  • Describe a court case for each type of evidence presented where that type of evidence played a prominent role
  • Describe the challenges of analyzing forensic evidence as well as problems with the admissibility of the evidence in a court of law

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