Forensic Science Master's Program Course Descriptions

Criminal Justice FS521: Ethics and the Law      3 credits

Ethics will not only be taught from a legal perspective, but will be expanded to include a multitude of involvements such as scientific ethics (the expert witness), copyright and patent ethics, court ethics, and ethical behavior between client and lawyer. This course will provide the student with a varied and well versed background to guide them in the integrity needed as scientists, expert witnesses, and those working in forensic science.

Statistics FS602:  Experimental Design      3 credits

This course will provide the basic understanding and knowledge for the student to implement a research project, set the statistical parameters, and then analyze the data generated from the experiment. It will cover both parametric and non-parametric statistical analysis, interpretation from either perspective, and use the appropriate statistical steps for the most meaningful analysis of the data. This will be focused more on statistical design than statistical theory.

Entomology FS521: Adult Insect Taxonomy   3 credits

An intensive 1-week course of study of 8 hours per day studying the primary Orders of adult insects from primitive insects through the higher Orders. The course will include terrestrial, semi-aquatic, and aquatic insects. This course is designed for those students wishing to undertake a masters course in Forensic Entomology but without an undergraduate entomology degree. The course will be offered at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin in the Entomology Department directed by Dr. Daniel Young.

Entomology FS531: Immature Insect Taxonomy     3 credits

An intensive 1-week course of study of 8 hours per day studying the primary Orders of immature insects from primitive insects through the higher Orders. The course will include terrestrial, semi-aquatic, and aquatic insects. This course is designed for those students wishing to undertake a masters course in Forensic Entomology but without an undergraduate entomology degree. The course will be offered at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin in the Entomology Department directed by Dr. Daniel Young.

Entomology FS590: Insect Ecology     3 credits

A study into the interactions and relationships of insects to themselves, other organisms, and the environment. This course can be formatted in either the semester long class or an intensive 40 hour, one week course.

Forensic Pathology FS501: Death Investigation    5 credits

This course will feature an intensive 2 week course on a 24/7 time schedule with Dr. Roland Kohr, Vigo County Coroner and Forensic Pathologist in Terre Haute, Indiana. The students will derive experience in autopsy protocol, death scene investigation, coroner’s inquests, and general death investigation from the perspective of the county morgue and the county coroner. A wealth of experience will be learned over his 2 week period of intensive training. Housing arrangements are the responsibility of the students attending the course, with support available from SJC staff.

Climatology FS550: Climatology   3 credits

A directed course in climatology focusing on the aspects of weather patterns, environmental influences on those macro and micro elements of weather patterns, and the specific relationships between the environment and insect growth and development. An understanding of the concepts of temperature models which are used in entomological analysis of death scenes will be studied intensively. Accumulated degree days and degree hours will be discussed at length.

Criminal Justice FS525: The Expert Witness in Court   3 credits

This course will study how the expert witness follows through their process from first contact in the case through testifying in a court of law. Many examples of court transcripts, depositions, and video will help instruct the student in the do’s and don’ts of the expert witness. The students will have a taste of what it’s like to be the expert in several mock trials planned for the course.

Entomology FS624: Forensic Entomology    4 credits

This is an advanced version of the undergraduate Forensic Entomology course offered at SJC. This course will delve into advanced carrion insect taxonomy, cover many additional identification keys, and increase understanding of the principles of the field. Advanced theories of solving the entomological questions, why certain protocols and methods work, and why others don’t will be studied and argued. Many case examples will be used to train the students on how to properly used forensic entomology evidence for its ultimate benefit to the criminal justice system. This course will also prepare the student for qualifying certifications so as to be a reliable witness in court.

Criminalistics FS514: Bloodstain Pattern Analysis     3 credits

This course is an intensive week long 40 contact hour course in the identification of blood spatter. It will cover trajectories of blood spatter, interpretation of blood drops and sprays, and discuss differences in arterial versus vinous origins on blood patterns. Drag pattern, droplet development, and velocities of the originating spatter will also be studied.

Criminalistics FS635: Bullet Comparison and Ballistics    3 credits

The course will be an advanced course in the use of the comparison microscope and the study of ballistics. Comparison scope exercises using firearms cases and bullets will be taught. In addition, tool mark comparisons will be studied. In depth understanding of ballistics, trajectories, and the flight of the bullet will be studied. It will either be taught as an intensive 40 contact hour course or as a semester long course.

Criminal Justice FS357/557:  Firearms Identification     3 credits

This course is already in existence at SJC and is quite popular. Students are taught nomenclature, firearms safety, safe handling, and legal issues of the five major classes of small arms. Upon successful completion of the course, CJ, forensic, and students interested in learning about firearms will be able to recognize, operate, and make safe literally hundreds of different makes, models, and types of small arms.

Criminalistics FS511: Finger Printing and Finger Print Enhancement   3 credits

This course will be an intensive week long 40 contact hour course in the science of latent fingerprint and patent fingerprint comparisons. Many new and unique methods now available to law enforcement for the enhancement of latent fingerprints will be learned. Fingerprint techniques and their comparisons will be studied. The student will learn the art of fingerprint recovery from surfaces such as wood, paper, human skin, and a number of other surfaces once thought to be impossible for recovery.

Criminalistics FS520: Shoe Print, Tire Marks, and Other Recoverable Patterns    3 credits

This course will be an intensive week long 40 contact hour course in the science of pattern recognition comparisons. Many new and unique methods now available to law enforcement for the enhancement of foot wear and other items will be learned. These techniques and their comparisons will be studied, thus making positive identification of unique patterns where only one individual could have make that mark.

Criminalistics FS585: DNA Evidence   3 credits

Either an intensive week long 40 contact hour course or a semester long course taught using case based evidence and examples. Theoretical concepts will open the course on how DNA techniques are employed. The students will then move on to actual case studies of DNA solving the crimes in conjunction with other evidence to round out the forensic science team.

Criminalistics FS595: Forensic Photography       3 credits

This course will be an intensive week long 40 contact hour course. Photographic techniques of the crimes scene will be studied and learned. Methods to enhance certain specific objects or patterns will be demonstrated and the students will have the opportunity to try these techniques themselves. Protocols for shadowing and lighting surfaces will be taught and practiced. Conditions necessary to obtain the most detailed enhancement of the photographic subject will be studied and practiced.

Biology BIO318/FS518: Forensic Entomology      3 credits

This is an existing course where the basic principles of forensic entomology are taught. Insect taxonomy of the carrion insects are learned with extensive time placed on identification of the flies. Case analysis, preparation for court, and maintaining the chain of custody are all covered in this introductory course. Other insect taxa are covered and many case examples enhance the understanding and perceptions of this field of forensic science.

Biology BIO334/FS534: General Toxicology    3 credits

This is an existing course where the basic principles of toxicology are taught. Particular emphasis will be placed on forensic and environmental toxicology.

Criminalistics FS690: Internship    3 credits

This is the capstone experience of the non-thesis Forensic Science Program. This involves an minimum of 90 contact hours working in a selected field of forensic science.

Research for Thesis FS598: Forensic Entomology     1-6 credits

Students register for thesis credits during terms when they are proposing a prospectus, conducting research, and defending their thesis.

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