Bachelor of ScienceForensic Science
This program provides the student with a rigorous science-centered curriculum reflective of real-world expectations in the field of forensic science.
The Forensic Science Program offers an interdisciplinary hands-on forensic science curriculum that focuses on mock casework and crime scenes to promote critical thinking skills and prepares the student for a professional and ethical career in public and private forensic laboratories, research facilities and medicolegal death investigations. The forensic science undergraduate program offers a comprehensive curriculum in an environment that supports diversity and promotes ethical decision-making.
This program is being taught by practitioners; the perspectives offered to the student mimics authentic situations to best prepare for supporting the forensic community. This program includes recommendations made by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC), which sets high academic standards. The student will take a required set of classes including sciences with laboratory activities, statistics, and calculus. The core forensic science courses would include physical evidence analysis, crime scene investigation, legal considerations, and ethics/responsibilities. The student will then be able to further tailor their degree with forensic electives.
Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in the Forensic Science program are able to:
- Obtain a thorough grounding in the natural sciences;
- Build upon a background of natural sciences through a series of advanced studies;
- Develop an appreciation of issues specific to forensic science through course work and laboratory based instruction; and,
- Gain practical experience through a series of core competencies specific to the field of forensic science.
This program requires a total of 56 semester hours. The semester hour value of each course appears in parentheses( ).
This course is designed to introduce the student to the hands-on techniques and opportunities in the field of biotechnology for the forensic field. The course will cover topics including introduction to biotechnology, DNA applications in forensic investigation, spectroscopic techniques, molecular biotechnology, and DNA fingerprinting, etc. The course will cover various techniques used in biotechnology (very significant for forensics) such as PCR, DNA immobilization, and DNA diagnostics. There will be field visits, case studies, and group discussions about the latest events in the field of forensic biotechnology.
This course will provide an introduction to legal theory and procedure, legal terms including types of evidence admitted in court, admissibility of expert testimony, and the specialized drafting of an expert report which shall include a review and logical use of the evidence. The student will also experience the art of testifying. Offered Spring Semester, annually.
Forensic laboratory accreditation is critical in forensic science. Accreditation standards and recommendation from federal forensic science organizations will be discussed. The student will demonstrate an understanding of quality assurance and quality control procedures that are used within accredited forensic laboratories. Safety procedures, personal protective equipment (PPE), case management, and movement of the evidence through the crime lab will be discussed. Offered Spring Semester, annually.
This course will focus on basic photography skills including different features available on a standard digital single-lens reflex (dSLR) camera and peripheral equipment such as digital flash, tripod and sync cord. The student will complete various activities on the fundamentals of forensic photography including composition, proper lighting, painting with light, scale reference and bounce flash. Photograph documentation of specific types of evidence such as fingerprints, bloodstain pattern, impression evidence and injuries will be discussed. Offered Spring Semester, annually.
This is a fundamental course in forensic death investigations. The areas of specialized focus include the causes, manner, physical circumstances, and mechanisms of both natural and unnatural deaths. Death scenes are examined and investigations reviewed, with evidence pertaining to how people die. In addition, the course looks at the various legal considerations and methods germane to concluding equivocal death determinations.
The forensic entomologist can use a number of different techniques including insect species succession, larval weight, length, and technical methods such as the accumulated degree-hour technique. The student is introduced to standard forensic procedures and, when practical, will see and use those procedures.
This lecture/laboratory-based course will provide the student with an overview of the principles and concepts of forensic toxicology. The student will be exposed to pharmacology before learning the key topics in forensic toxicology. The lectures will introduce the student to various drug classes including central nervous system depressants, stimulants, and psychotics. The student will learn the use and abuse of these drugs along with their effects on the human body. Offered Spring Semester, annually.
The student will discuss and complete hands-on activities mocking actual casework. Scientific instrumentation and sample preparation will be discussed for a variety of samples commonly analyzed in forensic chemistry and biology. A specific focus will be on the theory, sample considerations, use of instrumentation, controls and standards, limitations, and documentation. Two hours of lecture, three hours of laboratory per week. Offered Spring Semester, annually.
This lecture/laboratory-based course will provide the student with an overview of the principles and concepts of forensic biology. The student will be exposed to serology and DNA analysis as it applies to forensic science. The lectures will introduce the student to the basis of biological evidence including both the techniques to identify various biological fluids as well as the methodology required to analyze it. Select activities will be completed to introduce some of the forensic biology lab work that accompanies the material learned in the lectures. Offered Fall Semester, annually.
Drugs, substances, and certain chemicals used to make drugs are classified into categories or schedules depending upon the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential. This course will explore Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) as defined within the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) of the United States. Different CDS classifications will be discussed including their origins, synthesis, pharmacological effects, and chemical structure, and properties. This course will teach hands-on wet chemistry and analytical instrumentation methods. Offered Fall Semester, annually.
The student will utilize microscopy, perform chemical analyses, and interpret analytical data to determine the identity and/or probative value of evidence recovered during the commission of a crime. This course will address a variety of evidence, specific instrumentation, and analytical processes. Topics will include gunshot residue analysis, fiber, glass and paint comparisons, low explosive identification and polarized light microscopy. Offered Spring Semester, annually.
This course is a study of the process known as medico-legal death investigation. The course introduces the student to the legal systems surrounding the investigation of the cause and manner of death. The role of forensic pathology and the application of pathology to law are studied in relation to crime scene investigation. Natural, accidental, homicide and suicide deaths are explored in the perspective of the forensic pathologies.
Forensic anthropology is a science applied to law which focuses on the identification of remains, human or non-human, that are beyond recognition due to decompositional changes and are more or less skeletonized. Osteology is the study of bone. The student studies basic human skeletal anatomy involving the axial and appendicular skeleton. The student uses that knowledge in osteology to determine sex, age, stature, and ancestry of unknown individuals. The student is then able to apply knowledge to casework and have a general understanding of forensic anthropology laboratory practices.
This course covers topics in forensic science. It is an in-depth study of a selected specialized area and the content varies by semester.
This course is designed for the student who demonstrates an interest in an area of study not offered or who wishes to pursue a discipline in greater depth than possible through existing courses. A directed study counts as an elective and may not be used for accelerated or remedial credit. A learning contract between the student and instructor defines the responsibilities of the parties and specifies the learning objectives and standards for successful completion of the project. A calendar of meeting times and deadlines shall be a part of that contract.
Instructors discuss new HU Forensic Science program, lab with WITF’s Smart Talk
Harrisburg University recently launched a Forensic Science Bachelor of Science program and lab that brings crime scenes to life and…
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