Graduate Forensic Science Courses

BIO 548 Research Design and Statistics – 3 credits

This course deals with fundamental and advanced concepts in probability, statistical methods, and hypothesis testing. Topics include, but are not limited to, fundamentals of probability; summary statistics; basic hypothesis testing; analysis of frequency data; analysis of variance; regression and correlation; factor analysis and principal components analysis; discriminant analysis; and other multivariate methods. Nonparametric approaches will also be covered. Statistical power will be discussed in the context of research design.
Prerequisites: one year of undergraduate calculus and a 200-level undergraduate course in statistics of an earned Bachelor’s degree

FSC 500 Thesis Prospectus - 2 credits

An introduction to scholarly and research manuscript writing, forensic science literature, and documentation styles and techniques. Discussion will center on current research trends within the forensic science community. Students will be guided through the thesis proposal writing process. Each student will write a thesis proposal by the end of the semester and select a thesis committee. 

FSC 501 Forensic Science Research - 6 credits

Laboratory research in forensic science subject areas. Data generated from research will form the basis of a master’s thesis needed for degree completion. 

Prerequisites: Successful completion of FSC 500.

FSC 503 Professional Communication - 2 credits

The course discusses all aspects of professional communication, oral and written, and evaluates a student’s ability to effectively communicate in the professional world. Students will participate in mock job interviews with professionals. 

FSC 504 Graduate Seminar - 2 credits

A lecture series involving presentations from students on their master’s thesis research in a one-hour seminar format. Select presentations from invited speakers.
Prerequisites: Successful completion of FSC 503.

FSC 505 Separations Chemistry - 2 credits

An advanced study of the various types of separation methods used in chemistry with attention to specific types of applications to forensic evidence and modern methods of forensic chemical analysis. This course will challenge and advance the students understanding of the analytical separation methods and analyses of forensic science from a fundamental, chemical perspective. Students will learn from a scientific analytical perspective the theoretical and practical aspects in the concepts of separating analytes in forensic evidence. Topics will be presented to include modern separation methods, concepts, and techniques such as sample preparation techniques, extraction methods such as liquid-liquid, solid-phase, and micro-extraction, precipitation separations, ion-exchange separations, electrochemical and gravimetric separation methods, and chromatographic separations such as gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, supercritical fluid and capillary electrophoresis. 

FSC 506 Analytical Spectroscopy - 2 credits

In this course the student will study various types of modern chemical spectroscopic techniques. From a fundamental, chemical perspective the course will challenge and advance the students understanding of these analytical methods used in forensic science. The focus of study will be the theoretical and practical spectroscopic concepts of analyzing forensic evidence. Topics will include molecular spectroscopy, ultraviolet spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, mass spectrometry (MS), atomic X-Ray spectrometry, inductively coupled plasma (ICP), ICP/MS, Raman spectroscopy, and surface characterization by spectroscopy. 

FSC 507 Forensic Chemistry - 3 credits

A study of the chemistry of certain types of forensic evidence and modern methods of forensic chemical analysis. This course will challenge and advance the students understanding of the analytical methods and analyses of forensic science from a fundamental, chemical perspective. Students will learn from a scientific analytical perspective the analysis of materials such as drugs, glass, paints and plastics, fire debris, explosives, fibers and other types of physical evidence. The student will learn the meaning and significance of analytical data from a fundamental approach. Topics will be presented to include modern reactions, concepts, techniques and instrumentation such as chromatography, infrared spectroscopy, and ultraviolet spectroscopy. 

Prerequisites: Successful completion of FSC 505 and 506 or permission from instructor.

FSC 508 Forensic Pharmacology & Toxicology - 3 credits

The course will introduce students to principles and methods in the areas of forensic pharmacology and toxicology. The course will introduce pharmacological and toxicological principles as they pertain to commonly encountered abused and toxic substances. Discussions will focus on the drugs, their mechanism of action, post-mortem characteristics, methods of collection and methods of preservation and analysis. The course will review basic concepts of analytical chemistry as it applies to drug and body fluid analyses. Specific methods for the analysis of alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, opioids, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, and hallucinogens will be presented. 

Prerequisites: Successful completion of a biochemistry course.

FSC 509 Advanced Crime Scene Reconstruction – 3 credits

There are various types of analysis a forensic scientist might perform when reconstructing a crime scene, all of which depend on the type of analysis that may be needed in a particular case. For example, reconstruction of violent crimes such as homicides often involves advanced techniques such as bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) which may be accomplished by direct scene examination and/or scene photographs in conjunction with examination of clothing and weapons from the scene. Knowledge of BPA is also crucial to analysts choosing bloodstains from clothing and other items submitted to crime laboratories for serological and DNA testing. Training and experience are essential to properly reconstruct a crime scene. This course will begin with an introduction to basic crime scene investigation as it relates to crime scene reconstruction; however, the remainder of the course is taught from the scientist perspective in crime scene reconstruction. Emphasis will be placed on developing critical thinking skills and recognizing ways to limit bias which are essential for scientists to properly reconstruct crime scenes. Instruction will be given in forensic medicine, including interpretation of autopsy reports, microbiomes, fire scene reconstruction, staged crime scenes, and an in-depth study of specialized techniques such as bloodstain pattern analysis, bullet trajectory analysis, and entomological post mortem interval estimations as they relate to crime scene reconstruction. Students will then use this knowledge in analyzing, interpreting, and reconstructing numerous mock crime scenes. The course will end with a discussion on report writing and courtroom testimony of reconstruction cases. Each student will be assigned a final mock crime scene where they will analyze, reconstruct, and prepare/present their case for courtroom testimony. Laboratory included. Prerequisites: Concurrent with or completion of FSC 515.

FSC 510 Recent Advances in Forensic Biology - 3 credits

An advanced forensic biology course that will deal primarily with newer techniques used in body fluid stain identification, DNA extraction, DNA quantitation, PCR, and genotyping. Instruction will be given on state-of-the-art technologies, including Next Generation Sequencing, and their application to common forensic biological issues such as degradation, sensitivity, specificity, and variation in sample type. Advanced DNA topics including SNPs, microbial DNA, Y-STRs, mitochondrial DNA, and plant DNA will also be discussed. The course will also focus on population statistics used in forensic DNA analysis with an emphasis on statistical interpretation of mixtures. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of developing critical thinking skills utilized by forensic biologists to properly analyze evidence and troubleshoot common laboratory issues. Laboratory included.
Prerequisites: Concurrent with FSC 511 and either completion or concurrent with a genetics course.

FSC 511 Molecular Biology - 3 credits

The course begins with an examination of basic molecular biology including the structure of DNA, methodology of DNA replication, regulation of gene expression, and consequences of DNA mutations. The use of recombinant DNA and its applications in the study of human genetics will be explored as well as the impact of biotechnology on society. 
Prerequisites: Concurrent with or completion of a genetics course.

FSC 512 Forensic Science Administration - 2 credits

This course will focus on the practical application of forensic science laboratory management. Scenarios of actual issues confronted by forensic science laboratory managers will be discussed as well as economic and business considerations in the administration of a forensic science laboratory. Discussion will also include quality control, accreditation, certification, laboratory oversight, prioritizing resource allocation, management of personnel, forensic science laboratory facilities, leadership in a crime laboratory, and laboratory safety. Current issues include forensic intelligence, contextual bias, and efficiency models such as Six Sigma.

FSC 513 Advanced Microscopy – 3 credits

Lecture and practical instruction in the theory and practical application of microscopy methods. This course will focus on polarized light microscopy, fluorescent microscopy, phase contrast microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and spectroscopic methods that can be interfaced with the microscope (such as micro-FTIR and x-ray microanalysis). Additional emphasis will be placed on microchemistry, photomicrography, and digital imaging. Laboratory included.

FSC 514 Legal and Ethical Issues in the Forensic Sciences - 2 credits

The role that a forensic scientist plays in the litigation process will be discussed. Students will learn the appropriate guidelines for professionalism and conduct in expert witness testimony. All students will participate in a moot court exercise. The course will also address standards of reliability and relevance of scientific evidence in United States courts. Legal rules involving discovery of evidence, search and seizure of physical evidence, and the right of the accused to confront expert witnesses will also be discussed. Finally students will be introduced to existing professional codes of ethics and how to apply them in practice.

FSC 515 Advanced Forensic Pattern Analysis - 3 credits

Study in the comparative analysis of pattern evidence typically encountered as forensic evidence with emphasis on developing critical thinking skills, recognizing and limiting bias, and viewing pattern evidence as stochastic events. This course will begin with instruction on the proper documentation methods for pattern evidence followed by the analysis and interpretation of common forms of pattern evidence such as bloodstain patterns, glass fractures, handwriting, fingerprints, footwear impressions, and projectiles and casings from firearms. Students will then use this knowledge along with critical thinking skills to develop testing methods to analyze and interpret various types of pattern evidence. Students will develop their writing and oral skills by submitting laboratory reports in the form of journal articles and lecturing on an assigned topic related to pattern evidence. Laboratory included.

FSC 516 Forensic Chemistry and Toxicology Laboratory – 2 credits

Laboratory course designed for students to gain experience in some of the common analytical techniques utilized in forensic chemistry and toxicology. Prerequisites: FSC 505 and 506 or permission of instructor.

FSC 599 Continuing Research - 1 credit each semester until completion of thesis

Continuation of summer thesis research into the academic year.
Prerequisites: FSC 500, 501 and 502.



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