Courses & Units

Foundations of Forensic Studies HSP503


Forensic science is an integral component of the criminal justice system with applications in investigations, intelligence, courts, and disaster victim identification. However, it has been the subject of international critiques and a factor in high-profile cases of wrongful conviction. This unit examines forensic science as the object of study from a critical social sciences perspective. It highlights some pervasive issues such as the development of forensic science and limited foundational research, the challenges of communication to non-scientists, and the potential human rights issues associated with ongoing scientific advancements. The unit examines innovative research and practice that can contribute to addressing these complex and nuanced issues. It considers the potential for, and next steps in, the development of a critical social science approach to the role of forensic science in and beyond the criminal justice system. It incorporates an opportunity to explore a topic of personal interest and organisational relevance in more depth.


Unit name Foundations of Forensic Studies
Unit code HSP503
Credit points 25
College/School College of Arts, Law and Education
School of Social Sciences
Discipline Policing and Emergency Management
Coordinator Doctor Loene Howes
Delivered By
Level Postgraduate


This unit is currently unavailable.

* The Final WW Date is the final date from which you can withdraw from the unit without academic penalty, however you will still incur a financial liability (refer to How do I withdraw from a unit? for more information).

Unit census dates currently displaying for 2022 are indicative and subject to change. Finalised census dates for 2022 will be available from the 1st October 2021. Note census date cutoff is 11.59pm AEST (AEDT during October to March).

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Learning Outcomes

  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of diverse forensic disciplines, techniques and roles in the context of criminal investigations and court processes.
  • Analyse the social processes involved in the collection, analysis and use of forensic traces from crime scenes to courts (i.e., the forensic process), including the investigative process.
  • Critically evaluate and articulate your own position on key debates surrounding the use of forensic evidence in the criminal justice field.
  • Communicate complex ideas in written and verbal forms.

Fee Information

Field of Education Commencing Student Contribution 1,3 Grandfathered Student Contribution 1,3 Approved Pathway Course Student Contribution 2,3 Domestic Full Fee 4
not applicable

1 Please refer to more information on student contribution amounts.
2 Please refer to more information on eligibility and Approved Pathway courses.
3 Please refer to more information on eligibility for HECS-HELP.
4 Please refer to more information on eligibility for FEE-HELP.

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Teaching Pattern

Lecture, 1.5 hours, 1x weekly

Tutorial, 1 hour, 1x weekly

AssessmentTopic proposal (10%)|Discussion participation (10%)|Topic outline essay (30%)|Essay (50%)
TimetableView the lecture timetable | View the full unit timetable



Required readings will be listed in the unit outline prior to the start of classes.

LinksBooktopia textbook finder

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