Free course reveals the real world of forensic scientists

Posted by er134 at Dec 18, 2013 10:47 AM |
Online course offered by University of Leicester in partnership with FutureLearn starts 31 March 2014

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 18 December 2013

The University of Leicester is offering a new free course in cooperation with FutureLearn, ‘Forensic Science and Criminal Justice’, which will be taught by staff from the Department of Criminology.

The course will explore the dramatic changes experienced by the criminal justice system as a result of technological advances such as DNA profiling, in cases involving the identification of perpetrators and the exoneration of innocent people.

The course will start on Monday 31 March 2014 and last for six weeks. It will entail around two hours of study per week.

Dr Lisa Smith of the Department of Criminology said: “Forensic science is a subject that many people have an interest in, particularly as it features in the plots of some very popular fictional television shows, movies, and crime fiction novels.

“This course will give learners the opportunity to explore how science helps police to solve crimes, and goes one step further by encouraging participants to consider some of the controversies and issues associated with the use of science by the law.”

The course begins with an introduction to the historical context of forensic science and how the police use it during criminal investigations.

It will then explore the implications of forensic techniques, including:

  • How forensic techniques are used in the courtroom
  • The controversy surrounding biometric databases
  • The appearance of forensic science in popular media
  • Where the discipline will be heading in the future

Dr Smith added: “The course features a mix of video lectures, audio podcasts, articles, and open discussions and has been designed to encourage both independent learning as well as collaborative activities to enable students to explore this exciting topic.”

The course aims to give students insight into the real world use of forensic techniques and dispel some of the myths about forensic science perpetuated by fictional portrayals.

This is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), an online course that is free and open to all, and the second such course offered by the University.

The first, ‘England in the Time of Richard III’ was a roaring success with over 10,000 people registering for places on the course.

There are no specific entrance requirements for the Forensic Science and Criminal Justice course – all that is required is an interest in the ways forensic science affects police investigations and the criminal justice system.

To find out more or to sign up for the course, visit the website:


Notes for editors

For further information contact: Dr Lisa Smith, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, or alternatively visit

About FutureLearn is the first UK-led multi-institutional provider of free, open, online higher education courses. It offers courses for people to access and enjoy wherever they are in the world on multiple devices.  Courses will be created by the Universities of Auckland, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Monash, Newcastle, Nottingham, The Open University, Queen’s Belfast, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Strathclyde, Trinity College Dublin and Warwick.  In addition, the British Council, British Library and the British Museum have all agreed to partner with FutureLearn to share content and their expertise and collaborate in the development of courses through

For more information about FutureLearn contact Harriet Otoo, PR Manager at:


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