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Forensic Medicine and Science: Obtaining Evidence

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This short course looks at the medical and scientific forensic procedures used in the period following a suspicious death, providing the information required to determine whether a crime has taken place. The course includes group work and some human skeletal teaching material is available for students to examine.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous knowledge of the subject is assumed.

Content of Course

This course looks at the basic procedures in the first few days of investigation of a sudden, unexpected death in Scotland, from initial police response through to forensic scientists at locus and lab, and the post-mortem examination. It will explain the different Manners of Death, the legal categories into which all deaths must fit. The course will also examine the manner in which our perceptions of forensic medicine & science may be shaped by both factual and fictional presentations, from documentaries and news reports, to dramas and films.

Teaching method(s)

Each class is structured around two lecture sessions, with a group-work session in the middle. Discussion will be encouraged throughout. The group-work will involve fictional investigations which will build up each week as students are given more information on their “case”.  In the final class, students will determine the Manner of Death for their case, based on the evidence built up over the course.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course will be able to:

  • Recognise media bias in how forensic medicine and science is reported in the news;

  • Discuss the main principles of forensic medicine and science;

  • Identify the main procedures needed in the first few days of such investigations.


Core Readings

  • Burkhard, M., 2014. Handbook of Forensic Medicine. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell

  • Wyatt, J. et al., 2011. Oxford Handbook of Forensic Medicine. Oxford University Press.

Web Sources


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.