A A Email Print Share

Course Descriptions

FORE 101. Introduction to Forensic Science and Criminal Law   2 cr.

The intersection of science and law provides us with new tools and methodologies for discovering truth. This introductory course, in part, is designed to provide you with a broad overview of the law that you will cover throughout the entire 5 year program. Concepts and doctrines in the areas of criminal and civil law, the roles of the expert, pertinent rules of evidence, and wrongful convictions will be covered. The importance of ethical considerations in forensic science and law is emphasized. Included is an introduction to the classical areas of the forensic sciences and how the sciences interrelate with the law.

FORE 201. Law, Science, and Philosophy  2 cr.

This course is designed to help students to integrate the scientific knowledge in forensic science studies into the social context of the making, enforcing and interpreting of the law. In so doing, the student will be introduced to some basic concepts of the law, and the ways in which the forensic scientist participates in the practices of the law. In addition, the course uses the formal disciplinary study of philosophy as an analytical tool for examining science, law and their intersections. Prerequisite: FORE 101.

FORE 300. Professional Development I 0-1cr.

A multidimensional course that assists the Forensic Science and Law student with organizing curricular requirements, facilitating research options and scheduling timelines for accomplishing project completion in the last year of the Program. Presentations from invited speakers and Program Faculty broaden students' knowledge of research in the forensic sciences. The class meets periodically as a combined section with Professional Development III for the purpose of cross communication and discussions of common interest. Co-requisites: CHEM 371W.

FORE 301W. Wrongful Convictions  2 cr.

This upper level course will examine, from an interdisciplinary perspective, the principal problems that lead to the conviction of the innocent and the leading proposals for reform. Strong consideration will be given to the ethical imperatives of the police, prosecution, defense lawyers, and the scientific community. Approximately one-half of the class time throughout the semester will be used to cover these ethical considerations. Topics covered will include mistaken eyewitness identification; false confessions; junk forensic science; the role of forensic DNA testing; post-conviction remedies for innocence claims; the use of "jailhouse snitches" and cooperating witnesses; incompetent defense counsel; police and prosecutorial misconduct; ethical and moral problems posed by innocence and the death penalty; and the legal, practical, and ethical issues that arise for policy makers. Drawing on these topics, students will work in teams to study actual innocence/wrongful convictions in Pennsylvania and other jurisdictions. Prerequisite: FORE 101.

FORE 320. Professional Development II 0-1cr.

As a continuation of Professional Development I, this course continues to facilitate curricular requirements and choices of research projects and research advisors. The class meets periodically as a combined section with Professional Development IV/Research for the purpose of cross communication and discussions of common interest.

CHEM 371W. Forensic Chemistry Lab I  2 cr.

Students will learn the basic techniques and instrumentation used in a forensic laboratory. They will use microscopy, IR, visible spectroscopy and liquid chromatography to analyze hair, fibers, fingerprints, and pharmaceuticals. Prerequisite: CHEM 230L and C or better in CHEM 423. Laboratory, six hours.

FORE 391. Forensic Science Experience in China  3 cr.

This course provides an in-depth three-week scientific and cultural experience in China facilitated through Duquesne University and the Chinese Association of Science and Technology. Students will travel to several universities in China and work in seminars or small groups with the opportunity to (1) communicate orally and in writing in topics such as environmental science and pollution abatement; (2) acquire appropriate learning skills for collective laboratory work; (3) become familiar with global scientific issues through actively participating in scientific presentations. Students must participate in pre-trip seminars during the spring semester, in the August three-week trip including all activities during the trip, in the writing of reports to include in the trip summary document, and in a post-trip presentation to the public. Pass/Fail.

FORE 401. American Legal History  1 cr.

This course is an introduction to the basic institutions and concepts of the American legal system. Attention is focused upon courts, their law making capacity and their relationship to other branches of government particularly the legislature. This course examines the fundamentals of our criminal and civil systems of justice. Prerequisite: FORE 101.

FORE 402. Torts  1 cr.

This course exposes students to Torts using case law, statutes and other authorities, such as the Restatements of the American Law Institute. Students also are presented with a basic explanation of the American Legal System. The course is conducted primarily by lectures with some Socratic methodology where appropriate. A textbook and outside readings are used. Prerequisite: FORE 101.

FORE 403. Professional Development III/Research 0-1cr.

As a continuation of Professional Development II, this course continues to facilitate curricular requirements and timelines for research; and enhancement of students' knowledge in the forensic sciences.

FORE 410. Forensic Investigation I  3 cr.

This course briefly explores the evolution of police investigative techniques used throughout the world today.  We will examine basic and advanced procedures employed by police investigators and technicians with an emphasis on the detection, collection, and courtroom presentation of physical and testimonial evidence.  The course will also identify items commonly found at crime scenes and examine their significance in the investigative and prosecution process.  In addition, we will discuss the difficulties of presenting transient and non-tangible evidence to a court and jury, as well as explore the vital links connecting crime scene investigation, physical evidence, interviewing, and interrogation.

This class will also examine theories of information and observation as they relate to crime scene investigation along with the ethics of current investigative procedures utilized by modern law enforcement.

The course will then address multiple-agency involvement in locating, processing, and analyzing evidence.  To emphasize the value of proper investigative techniques, the instructor will supplement lectures and readings with discussions of actual cases.  Supplemental handouts will be provided for information not covered in the text.  Prerequisite:  FORE 101.

FORE 411. Forensic Investigation II  3 cr.

This course is a continuation of Forensic Investigation I with an emphasis on the study of the practical application of modern investigative techniques to a variety of criminal activities. Actual cases, accompanied by crime scene photographs will be presented, giving the student a factual view of techniques, procedures and strategies utilized by law enforcement officers conducting criminal investigations. We shall explore investigative relationships between local and federal law enforcement agencies and the potential resources each agency contributes to an  investigation. Prerequisite: FORE 410.

FORE 421. Environmental Law  1 cr.

This course will use lectures, readings, discussions and class presentations to introduce the students to the field of environmental law. The object is to familiarize the students with the legal background in which they may be called upon to practice their scientific training in the Forensic Science and Law Program, whether as consultants, regulatory or compliance specialists, or expert witnesses. Prerequisite: FORE 101.

FORE 450/460. Internship  1 - 6 cr.

The Forensic Science and Law Internship provide the student with a professional work experience in an organizational environment. The internship is an extension of the curriculum and provides meaningful experience related to the student’s area of concentration. The internship responsibilities must be approved in advance by a program coordinator. The student is supervised within the work setting and also by a faculty sponsor from the Forensic Science and Law Program. FORE 460 is Pass/Fail. Prerequisite: Student must have earned 60 credits.

FORE 470. Research Internship  1 -3 cr.

Opportunity for selected Forensic Science Students to work in either the Forensic Chemistry or Forensic DNA Laboratory on a research problem under the direction of a faculty mentor. In the Forensic Chemistry lab students work on several ongoing research projects, learning experiment development, problem solving and instrumental methods. In the Forensic DNA Laboratory students are responsible for sample processing, performing extractions on a variety of source material (bone, tissue, etc), quantification, PCR and genotyping, including database construction.

FORE 500. Internship  0 cr.

The Forensic Science and Law Internship provides the student with a professional work experience in an organizational environment. The internship is an extension of the curriculum and provides meaningful experience related to the student’s area of concentration. The internship responsibilities must be approved in advance by a program coordinator. The student is supervised within the work setting and also by a faculty sponsor from the Forensic Science and Law Program. Pass/Fail. Prerequisite: Student must have earned 90 credits.

FORE 501. Trace Evidence & Environmental  3 cr.

The Trace Evidence course will provide the student with basic insight into background, theory, principles, scene investigation, sample collection, identification and classification of various types of trace evidence. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

FORE 503. Professional Development IV/Research 0-1cr.

As a continuation of a Professional Development III/Research, this course continues to facilitate curricular requirement timelines for research, and enhancement of students' knowledge in the forensic sciences. Course repuirements will include preparation of a research abstract for a national meeting.

FORE 510. Ethics in Forensic Science & Professional Responsibilities  1 cr.

Ethical conduct and professional responsibility of forensic scientists are critical for a proper functioning of the criminal justice system.  The forensic scientist routinely faces challenges from the adversarial system.  Investigators, prosecutors, and defense attorneys all want immediate results, clear results, and results that support their theories.  Scientific culture should emphasize objectivity, scientific rigor, openness, and cautious interpretation of data.  Also, the professional responsibilities of the lawyers legally extend to the forensic scientist as their agents.  This course is designed to provide the student with the concepts to recognize moral, ethical, and professional issues and normative values for addressing these issues.  Prerequisite:  FORE 101.

FORE 511. Forensic Drug Analysis  2 cr.

The Forensic Drug Analysis course is designed to provide the student with the basic knowledge and skills necessary to perform routine examinations and identification/classification of illicit drugs and chemicals. A thorough knowledge of the chemistry of selected classes of drugs is emphasized. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

FORE 513. Firearms and Toolmarks  2 cr.

The use of firearms comprises a large percentage of crimes in the Unite States. The course is designed to provide the student with the principles of firearms examination and firearms identification as well as other firearms related evidence. In addition, shoe print and tire print evidence will also be discussed. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

CHEM 514W. Advanced Forensic Chemistry Lab  2 cr.

Students will continue to learn the instrumentation and more advance techniques used in a forensic laboratory. They will use GC-MS, LC-MS, IR, PXRD, chemical tests and microscopy to detect metal residues, flammable liquids, explosives, poisons, and drugs. Prerequisite: Forensic Chemistry Lab I. Laboratory, six hours.

FORE 521. Forensic Serology and DNA Analysis  3 cr.

This course presents the theory and methodology used in the examination and identification of body fluid stains, including blood, semen and saliva. The determination of species origin and sources of false positive and negative results will also be covered. Students will cover techniques and methods of forensic DNA analysis, as well as statistical interpretation of results, report writing and quality control issues. Students will process mock forensic casework. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

FORE 522. Quality Assurance & Lab Administration Management  2 cr.

Forensic science is an applied science. The ability to consistently and reliably obtain results time after time and to demonstrate that this is done is important to courts and society. Also, the testing must evolve with advances in science. The human element introduces confounding factors that have to be managed as well. Ethical questions are emphasized throughout the course. This course is designed to provide you with tools to assure laboratory quality and manage the human and nonhuman laboratory resources in a forensic science laboratory context. Prerequisite: FORE 101.

FORE 525. Forensic Toxicology  3 cr.

The Forensic Toxicology course is designed to provide the student with the basic knowledge to understand the deleterious effects of drugs and chemicals on the human body. In addition to the basic analytical principles the student will be involved with analyzing and interpreting cases in post-mortem, human performance and drug testing forensic toxicology. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

BIOL 530W DNA Methods Population Genetics  4 cr.

This combined laboratory and lecture course examines the biology underlying the most common genetic marker systems used in the forensic community. The basics of population genetics and DNA analysis methodologies will be covered, including the CODIS database. Techniques include extraction protocols, amplication of DNA, methods for labeling DNA, and ultimately the construction of a genetic profile using an ABI 3100 Avant Genetic Analyzer. Mitochondrial DNA, the Y-chromosome, and Amelogenin, the most commonly used gender identification locus, will also be experimentally explored. Prerequisites: BIOL 568 Laboratory and lecture.

FORE 535. Evidence and Case Management  1 cr.

The student is introduced to the process of receiving evidence, documenting chain of custody, and evidence security. Utilizing a LIMS for evidence tracking and case management will be covered. Stressed is the overall importance of the integrity of forensic evidence. Handling hazardous evidence is also covered. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

FORE 540. Constitutional Criminal Procedure  1 cr.

Criminal procedures for searches and seizures of evidence as constrained by the U.S. Constitution may affect the admissibility of forensic scientific analysis performed on the evidence in the laboratory. The forensic scientist should understand the constitutional dimensions of the law enforcement powers. In this course, significant U.S. Supreme Court cases will be read and discussed. This course is not an exhaustive or comprehensive study of the subject, but rather a survey of some of the major cases that affect everyday law enforcement. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

FORE 541. Latent Fingerprint Analysis  1 cr.

This course is designed to introduce the student to the science of fingerprints. Students will study the biological development of friction ridges, methods for developing, capturing, and preserving latent prints, and the ACE-V methodology for latent print comparison. This course will also provide students with the knowledge of current technology in the fingerprint community and the role of fingerprints in the field of forensic science. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

FORE 545. Explosives and Arson Investigation  2 cr.

The Explosive and Arson Investigation course will provide the student with basic insight into theory, principles, scene investigation, sample collection, identification and classification of explosive materials and ignitable liquids. Forensic Science applications for the analytical evaluation of Biological Warfare Agents (BWA) and Chemical Warfare Agents (CWA) will also be emphasized. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

FORE 550/551. Seminar Journal Club  1 cr. each

The forensic science graduate experience includes student presentations and discussions of research and topics of interest. One to two major formal PowerPoint presentations will be given based upon literature or laboratory research. Journal articles and seminar topics will relate to the subject matter of classes taught during the semester. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

FORE 555. Expert Qualification  1 cr.

The Capstone course for the 5 year MFS&L program will prepare students for courtroom testimony and review the forensic science curriculum in preparation for professional certification tests. Prerequisite: FORE courses, levels 100 through 400.

BIOL 579. Forensic Molecular Biology  3 cr.

This combined graduate level laboratory and lecture class is a pre-requisite for DNA Methods & Population Genetics (BIOL 530W), and is a required course for the Forensic Science and Law Program. This course was designed to help students develop a number of practical skills and perform techniques routinely used in modern biological research. This course covers the major protein and immunochemistry techniques and assays as well as recombinant DNA techniques. The evolution of these techniques and their relevance to the forensic community will be emphasized. Although this class is designed for FSL students, non-FSL students may register with approval of instructor. Lecture and laboratory. Corequisite: BIOL 568 Human Genetics. This course covers the major protein and DNA molecule marker systems and techniques currently used in biological research laboratories. Lecture/Lab.

FORE 610. Trace Evidence Applications Lab  1 cr.

The purpose of this lab is to expand the student’s knowledge of trace evidence analysis techniques. Collection and analysis techniques will be put into practice.  Requirements for a positive identification, negative identification and elimination will be discussed. Proper evidence handling techniques and chain of custody preservation will be put into practice.  Co requisite:  FORE 501.

FORE 620. Serology, DNA Applications Lab  1 cr.

The purpose of this lab is to familiarize the students with techniques common to forensic serology. Students will learn the methods utilized in forensics laboratories for the collection and identification of physiological fluids while observing chain of custody and proper evidence handling. Corequisite: FORE 521.

FORE 630. Chemistry, Toxicology, Arson Applications Lab  1 cr.

An applications laboratory that covers analytical methodologies for detecting, identifying, characterizing, and quantitating chemicals, drugs, and poisons in forensic evidence. The examination of forensic evidence will include samples from arson and explosive investigations; samples from illicit drug distribution; biological samples from death cases; biological samples from illegal drug and alcohol use; and samples from suspected terrorism activity. Corequisite: FORE 525, 545.

FORE 640. Independent Research  1 cr.

Each student is required to write a paper and give a presentation on original research in the 5th year of the Program. The independent research course is scheduled for the oral defense and evaluation of your original research manuscript. The work that the manuscript and defense are based on are a result of original research performed over the past few years. Research projects developed in the Advanced Forensic Chemistry Lab, DNA Methods/Population Genetics, and Forensic Investigations; or research projects in either Chemistry or Biology can be the basis for the paper and presentation. Each student must have a faculty advisor as well as a reader for their research; one of these individuals must be from the core forensic faculty.