The History of Forensic Science

The History of Forensic Science in Tasmania: Past and Present Constructions of Forensic Objectivity in Capital Cases

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Forensic science includes various disciplines such as fingerprint and DNA analyses that have developed within specific socio-historical contexts. Forensic studies, as an emerging field, is the critical examination of forensic science as an object of study, usually through the lens of social science. Although a great deal of research has examined recent scandals in the use of forensic science, limited research has traced the development of forensic science within the social, political, and cultural contexts of Australia.

This project aims to document and analyse the development of forensic disciplines and their use in Tasmania in colonial through to more recent serious criminal cases (i.e., murder, attempted murder, armed robberies and rape). The project asks questions like: What counted as forensic science in police investigations and the court room? How did various types of forensic science (e.g., toxicology or fingerprint analysis) gain acceptance and achieve expert status in Tasmania? How did forensic science develop in Tasmania in comparison to other jurisdictions within Australia and beyond? What aspects of development of forensic science are unique to Tasmania? What landmark cases in Tasmania have impacted justice for victims, offenders, and the Tasmanian public?

You will explore one or more of these questions and undertake archival research in Tasmania. As part of this project, you will develop more specific research questions with your supervisors and the project design will be based on your areas of interest, knowledge and skills.

Your background can be in criminology, history, law, psychology, policing or the sciences (e.g., biology or chemistry) with a strong interest in developing your skills in forensic studies and historical criminology.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Vicky Nagy


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus
  • Applications are open to applicants with a background in criminology, history, psychology, policing or the sciences

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Has undertaken studies or research into history and crime

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Vicky Nagy to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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