Decoding Forensics for Legal Professionals (FutureLearn)

Decoding Forensics for Legal Professionals (FutureLearn)
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Decoding Forensics for Legal Professionals (FutureLearn)
Delve into forensic science and examine its limitations to better understand how to use forensics in criminal trials. Explore the basics of forensic pathology. Explore commonly relied on disciplines in forensics. Today, forensic evidence is integral to criminal investigations and trials. Therefore, it is important for legal professionals to have an understanding of the scientific foundations and limitations of different types of forensic evidence, in order to engage more meaningfully with such evidence.

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On this six-week course, you’ll explore the scientific principles underlying forensic pathology, medical examination in sexual offence cases, bite mark analysis, and forensic DNA profiling. Using mock case scenarios, this insightful online course will help you develop the skills you can immediately apply in your career as a legal professional.


Delve into the legal standards of forensic evidence

You’ll explore the law on expert evidence and the procedures that courts follow in examining such evidence. With this knowledge, you’ll understand the limitations with the current forms of legal inquiries and how they can be improved.

Lastly, you’ll scrutinise the law of expert evidence and forensic science landscape in India.


Develop your scientific inquiry skills alongside experts

Through this course, you will develop a keen sense of scientific inquiry and aptitude and learn how to apply these scientific principles and evidentiary standards to forensic disciplines beyond the course.

The videos, articles and quizzes have been curated on the basis of the extensive research and criminal defence work conducted by Project 39A, a criminal justice initiative based out of National Law University, Delhi. This course will help you develop essential skills which you can use in your career as a legal professional.


What topics will you cover?

This course delves into the scientific foundations and limitations of forensic disciplines which are seen in seen in criminal cases. These disciplines are- forensic pathology, medical examination in sexual offence cases, bite mark analysis and forensic DNA profiling. Lastly, we will examine the legal standards in place to scrutinise forensic evidence.

The module on basics of forensic pathology will cover: What is an autopsy? How is the external and internal examination conducted; Understanding cause and time of death; Guidelines for collection of evidence and preparation of an autopsy report.

The module on medical examination of victims of sexual offences will cover: Debunking the myths about medical examination of victims and accused in cases of sexual assault; Process of examination of deceased victims and survivors in cases of sexual assault; Guidelines for collection of evidence and record of medical examination.

The module on bite mark analysis will cover: Introduction to Forensic Odontology; Understanding the human dentition; Challenging assumptions underlying bite mark comparison; Limitations of the process of bite mark comparison; Issues surrounding bite mark comparison in India; Scientific developments in challenging bite mark comparison around the world.

The module on forensic DNA profiling will cover: The basics of human cell and structure of DNA. What is DNA profiling and how is it conducted?; how are the results of DNA profiling interpreted? Statistical analysis in DNA profiling; what is DNA transfer?

The module on standards for examination of expert evidence will cover: Introduction to the law on expert evidence; role of courts in examining expert evidence, role of a defence lawyer in challenging expert evidence; the law of expert evidence and forensic science landscape in India.


Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.


What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

-Explore the fundamental theory behind forensic pathology, medical examination in cases of sexual assault, bitemark comparison and forensic DNA profiling.

- Reflect on the scientific limitations of the forensic disciplines taught in the course.

- Evaluate the role of the Court in examining forensic evidence during a criminal trial.

- Discuss the reliability of the evidence found in the mock case scenarios based on the scientific principles learnt as part of the course.

- Apply the principles of scientific inquiry and evidentiary standards to forensic disciplines beyond this course.
Who is the course for?

This course is designed for judges, lawyers, forensic scientists, and students of law and forensic science.

It will be particularly useful if you are interested in learning the science behind different forensic disciplines and the legal standards which apply in examining forensic evidence.



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69.00 EUR

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