CCST9030 Scientific and Technological Literacy
Forensic Science: Unmasking Evidence, Mysteries and Crimes

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Non-Permissible Combination:
CCST9010 The Science of Crime Investigation

Course Description

Modern forensic science covers multiple scientific disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, computing, engineering etc. This course will lead students to explore the world of modern forensic science through a series of selected forensic science topics interplayed with interesting, famous or mysterious crime case studies and Problem-based Learning tutorials. Additionally, hands-on practicals will enable students to carry out the collection of, and examination and analysis on, several types of forensic materials, including hairs and fibres, fingerprints and shoeprints, soil samples and drug analysis, which can be found in everyday life. Through the hands-on work, students can appreciate the possible gap between theory and practice, which will help them develop in-depth understanding of the scientific topics taught in lectures or read from books as well as applying and verifying ideas and theories in practice. In addition to introducing students to the underlying scientific, legal and ethical concepts of crime investigation, knowledge gained in the course will be used by students to critically analyze assigned crime cases and generate logical solutions from TV shows and movies. All course contents including practicals are designed to be suitable for students having little or no science training.

[The Laboratory component of this course (with four laboratory sessions) is compulsory. The laboratory sessions will be arranged during the semester on Wednesday or Friday mornings from 9:30 am to 10:50 am or 11:00 am to 12:20 pm. Please make sure you do not have time conflicts before enrolling on this course.]

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain how scientific and technological principles are being applied in modern forensic science.
  2. Demonstrate good understanding of how modern forensic science is being applied to uphold justice in the society and solve crimes in everyday life.
  3. Investigate and apply forensic principles and analysis on evidence/samples gathered by students.
  4. Apply critical thinking and scientific knowledge systematically on uncertain and unfamiliar situations, starting from identifying and defining problems, gathering evidence, analytical reasoning and group discussion, to finally generating solutions to solve the problem of crime case studies.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self-study 40
Case studies 15
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 20
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 15
Assessment: Laboratory practicals (incl preparation, performance and report writing) 20
Assessment: Mock quiz 4
Assessment: Quizzes 4
Total: 154

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Case studies and Problem-based Learning tutorial 25
Group report 15
Assignments and laboratory reports 30
Quizzes 30

Required Reading

  • Saferstein, R. (2015). Criminalistics: An introduction to forensic science. Prentice Hall.

Recommended Reading

Recommended Websites

General:

Case Studies:


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor D.L. Phillips
Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Tel: 2859 2160
Email: phillips@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor D.L. Phillips
Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Tel: 2859 2160
Email: phillips@hku.hk
Dr W.T. Chan
Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Tel: 2859 2156
Email: wtchan@hku.hk
Dr B.L. Lim
School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
Tel: 2299 0826
Email: bllim@hku.hk
Dr K.K.W Mak
Faculty of Science
Tel: 3917 7851
Email: mkwkaren@hku.hk