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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 02/03/2022 17:35:50

Title of Module: Forensic Analytical Techniques

Code: BIOL09015 SCQF Level: 9
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Health and Life Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:Gail  McGarvie

Summary of Module

This module focuses on two key types of forensic samples: DNA and controlled drugs. Starting with evidence collection at the scene of crime you will follow the process through analysis in the laboratory to interpretation,analysis and application of the results.

DNA profiling is perhaps one of the most reliable and conclusive methods of personal identification available to Forensic Scientists. It is a highly sensitive technique which is used in forensic science for example in criminal cases, victim identification and paternity cases. You will have an opportunity to practice techniques used to collect DNA from a crime scene and to obtain a DNA profile.  Knowledge of DNA structure, organisation and pattern of inheritance will enable interpretation of DNA profiles and analyse the benefits and limitations of DNA profiling using case studies. Current and future developments such as  DNA phenotypying will be considered.

Any samples seized which are suspected of being controlled drugs have to be definitively identified in order to secure a conviction. This module will demonstrate how to take a non-descript solid sample, such as a white powder and identify what illegal drug(s) it contains. The module will discuss the major classes of illegal drugs and how each group can be identified and quantified by chemical analysis.

The following graduate attributes can be developed in this module: critical thinker, analytical, Knowledeable, problem solver, ethically minded and collaborative.

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:




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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1check markTerm 2


Term 3


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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Outline the main classes of controlled substances and the techniques employed in their analysis

L2. Explain the principles, applications and ethics of DNA Profiling

L3. Select and apply appropriate analytical techniques to analyse DNA and controlled substances

L4. Explain the function and practice of quality assurance in the analysis of forensic samples

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 9.

Demonstrate a broad and integrated knowledge of controlled substances and the methods employed to analyse them.

Demonstrate a critical understanding of principal concepts and applications of DNA profiling.

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 9.

Use the theoretical knowledge gained to perform appropriate techniques and analyse the results in the context of the theory.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 9.

Critically analyse the technique(s), implications including ethical issues of DNA profiling and controlled substances.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 9.

Communicate effectively orally and in writing. Analyse and interpret data where appropriate.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 9.

Working in teams to perform practical work and to research and present information will require time management, organisational skills and an understanding of professional practice.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Other:or equivalent
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
Delivery of this module will use a hybrid learning approach. Core theory and concepts will delivered by a mixture of face to face and the VLE using lectures, short videos, tutorials, case studies and discussions where student participation will be expected.

The material will provide underpinning knowledge of DNA Profiling e.g. DNA structure, organisation and techniques used to collect and analyse DNA. Detailed discussion of the main groups of controlled substances, the testing regimens applied and the main analytical techniques used to generate the qualitative and quantitative evidence used to support forensic cases.

Practical work will apply the theoretical knowledge and give the students practical experience of the techniques used to analyse controlled substances and DNA. Students will be introduced to quality assurance practices in forensic laboratories and these will be applied throughout the practicals.

The learning and teaching strategies applied to this module contribute towards the development of UWS graduate attributes:
• Universal: Inquiring, analytical, research-minded
• Work Ready: Knowledgeable,problem solver, effective communicator
• Successful: Creative, driven

Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery12
Laboratory/Practical Demonstration/Workshop12
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity12
Asynchronous Class Activity12
Independent Study152
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Jackson, A.R.W. & Jackson, J.M. (2016) Forensic Science 4th Edition (Pearson) ISBN-10: 9781292088181

Cole, M.D. (2003) The Analysis of Controlled Substances (Wiley) ISBN 0 471 49252 3

Cole, M.D. & Caddy, B. (1994) The Analysis of Drugs of Abuse: An Instruction Manual (Ellis Horwood) ISBN 0 130 35098 2

Web site Dolan DNA Learning Centre, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory particularly DNA from the Beginning is an excellent site on the background molecular Biology and genetics.

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

Where a module has Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements these will be listed here:
Attendance at synchronous sessions (lectures, workshops, lab practical and tutorials) , completion of asynchronous activities, and submission of assessments to meet the learning outcomes of the module.

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardBiological Sciences and Health
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelBiology L7-11
ModeratorDavid Thompson
External ExaminerA Tsaousis
Accreditation DetailsThis module is part of the BSc (Hons) Applied Bioscience with Forensic Investigation programme; accredited by Royal Society of Biology (RSB)
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Two 1 hour class tests worth 50% of module mark.
Coursework consisting of practical reports and case study worth 50%
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Class test (written)check markcheck mark check mark502

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Portfolio of practical work  check markcheck mark500
Combined Total For All Components100% 4 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
In line with current legislation (Equality Act, 2010) and the UWS Equality, Diversity, and Human Rights Code, our modules are accessible and inclusive, with reasonable adjustment for different needs where appropriate. Module materials comply with University guidance on inclusive learning and teaching, and specialist assistive equipment, support provision and adjustment to assessment practice will be made in accordance with UWS policy and regulations. Where modules require practical and/or laboratory based learning or assessment required to meet accrediting body requirements the University will make reasonable adjustment such as adjustable height benches or assistance of a ‘buddy’ or helper.

UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.