PATHOL 3100 - Topics in Forensic Sciences

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2014

The aim of this course is to provide students with an overview of a variety of topics within the area of forensic sciences including pathology, toxicology, anthropology and odontology. It is not intended to provided students with a detailed knowledge of any of these areas, but rather provide insight into how they may be used to investigate crime. Topics to be covered include the changes in the body with death and decomposition; the pathology of wounds; burns; disaster victim identification; sudden death in children and adults; medical misadventure and drug related deaths. A background knowledge of basic anatomy and physiology is expected.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PATHOL 3100
    Course Topics in Forensic Sciences
    Coordinating Unit Anatomy and Pathology
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 2 hours per week
    Prerequisites PATHOL 3003
    Restrictions Available to B Health Sci, B Sc & B Psych (Hons) students only
    Course Description The aim of this course is to provide students with an overview of a variety of topics within the area of forensic sciences including pathology, toxicology, anthropology and odontology. It is not intended to provided students with a detailed knowledge of any of these areas, but rather provide insight into how they may be used to investigate crime. Topics to be covered include the changes in the body with death and decomposition; the pathology of wounds; burns; disaster victim identification; sudden death in children and adults; medical misadventure and drug related deaths. A background knowledge of basic anatomy and physiology is expected.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Roger Byard

    Course Coordinator: Roger Byard
    Phone: +61 8 8313 4274
    Location: Room N304, Medical School North

    Course Coordinator: Carl Winskog
    Phone: +61 8 8313 1521
    Location: Room N321, Medical School North
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Describe the basis of forensic science and pathology and how these areas interact with the law
    2 Describe the terminology used in forensic practice
    3 Describe basic court structure, certain legal issues and evidence delivery.
    4 Describe and discuss, on a basic level, how crime scene investigations together with forensic toxicology, forensic anthropology, forensic odontology, forensic DNA analysis and illicit drug analysis can support the investigation of serious crime.
    5 Outline types and features of natural and unnatural deaths, including those due to:
    • Medical conditions
    • Homicides
    • Suicides
    • Accidental deaths
    • Sudden infant death syndrome
    6 Explain how pathological processes can be integrated into the investigation of suspicious and non-suspicious deaths
    7 Describe the process of disaster victim identification as it was applied after the Bali bombings and the Thailand tsunami.
    8 To recognise features of injuries and a knowledge of injury patterns and types including those due to:
    • Burns
    • Drowning
    • Electrocution
    • Asphyxia
    • Firearms
    9 To source and reference relevant information from the literature.
    10 To analyse specific problems and explain the relevant issues in an essay format.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1-8
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 9
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 10
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. n/a
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 4
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1-10
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    REQUIRED RESOURCES (available through the Adelaide University library)
    Simpson K, Shepherd, R. Simpson’s Forensic Medicine. 13th Edition. Edward Arnold, 2011.
    Recommended Resources
    Recommended textbooks (available through the Adelaide University library) are:

    Prahlow, Joseph A, Byard, Roger W. Atlas of Forensic Pathology. Springer, 2011.
    Springer Reference

    Byard RW. Sudden Death in the Young. 3rd Ed. Cambridge University Press. 2010.

    Payne-James J, Byard RW, Corey TS, Henderson C. Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine 4 Volumes. Elsevier/Academic Press, 2005, (also electronic)

    Siegel JA, Knupfer GC, Saukko PJ. Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences 3 Volumes. Academic Press, 2000, (also electronic).

    Payne-James J, Busuttil A, Smock W. Forensic Medicine. Greenwich Medical Media , 2002.
    Online Learning
    There are a wide range of forensic orientated web sites:

    American Academy of Forensic Sciences

    National Association of Medical Examiners

    National Board of Medical Examiners

    National Institute of Forensic Science

    Forensic Anthropology Centre, The University of Tennessee, United States.

    The Society of Forensic Toxicologists

    American Board of Forensic Odontology
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Lecture sessions

    There will be two lecture sessions per week commencing promptly at 10 minutes past the hour and lasting for 40 to 50 minutes.

    A lecture will be presented in most sessions. Lecture notes will be available online at No printed handouts will be distributed at lectures.

    If you do not understand any part of a lecture, do not hesitate to ask for clarification from the lecturer either during the lecture, afterwards or via email.

    Lecture notes only aim to provide an outline of a topic. Further reading of a textbook is expected for you to gain wider and deeper knowledge and understanding.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students are reminded that the overall workload for a full time student as stated in the University of Adelaide Calendar is an average of 48 hours per week per teaching period (i.e. semester). This includes contact and noncontact hours and includes general study and research time for assignments.

    Topics in Forensic Sciences is a 3 unit course and thus represents a quarter of a full time load. You should thus be putting in an average of 12 hours of study each week (including contact hours) for this course.

    Each week you are expected to
    • attend teaching sessions
    • work on assignments and assessments
    • read relevant sections of textbooks that relate to lecture and practical material, ensuring that you understand the information, and taking additional notes as necessary
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week Topic Lecture
    Week 1 Intro and SIDS Introduction – crime, injury, and death

    SIDS and natural sudden death in the young
    Week 2 Injury Injury – classification and overview

    Bombs, blasts and bullets
    Week 3 Pathology Forensic science – an overview

    Forensic pathology and changes after death
    Week 4 Drowning

    Sexual Assault
    Diving and Drowning

    An approach to sexual assault
    Week 5 CSI

    Crime scene investigation – a police perspective

    Clandestine laboratories and illicit drugs
    Week 6 The legal system The coroner, the act and the system

    Courts and expert evidence
    Week 7 Burns

    Homicides, suicide and accidental death
    Burns, hyperthermia and hypothermia

    Homicides, suicides and accidents in adults
    Week 8 Sudden Adult death

    Sudden natural death in adults

    Week 9 Electrocution


    Forensic toxicology
    Week 10 Anthropology

    Forensic anthropology

    DNA and CSI
    Week 11 Odontology

    Forensic odontology

    Disaster victim identification
    Week 12 Death and Injury in the young Unnatural deaths and injury in the young

    Dynamic Tutorial
    Specific Course Requirements
    A visit to Forensic Science SA for an autopsy demonstration may be arranged subject to student interest and availability
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Assessment Type Weighting Learning Outcome(s) being addressed
    Two (2) online tests to be completed during the semester (15% each) Summative 30% 1-8
    Two (2) Assignments to be completed during the semester (20% each) Summative 40% 1-10
    Written Theory examination at the end of semester Summative 30% 1-10
    Assessment Related Requirements
    The end of semester examination will comprise of a 1.5 hour written paper including short essays.
    In order to pass Topics in Forensic Science, students are required to achieve an overall grade of at least 50% for the course. Students not meeting this requirement will be awarded a fail grade unless they are offered a replacement examination.

    In order to pass Topics in Forensic Science students are required to have completed every section of the assessment (i.e. to have submitted both assignments, completed both online tests, and to have sat for the final examination). Students failing to meet these requirements may fail outright.

    Replacement Examinations

    On Medical or Compassionate Grounds
    To request a replacement examination on Medical or Compassionate grounds, appropriate forms should be obtained from your faculty office or the appropriate web site, completed and submitted in the appropriate time frame. Students are advised to refer to the university’s website and policy on replacement examination. The academic staff will make the final decision regarding the offer of a supplementary examination. Sitting a replacement examination offered on this basis will result in a formal mark being awarded, i.e. pass, credit or distinction. Both written theory and practical replacement examinations may be offered.

    On Academic Grounds
    Replacement examinations will be offered to selected students on academic grounds. Those sitting replacement examinations on academic grounds will be required to achieve a grade of at least 50% in a written theory supplementary examination to pass the course. Successful completion of replacement examinations offered on this basis can only result in a final mark for the course of 50%.

    Replacement examinations are held during the official replacement examination period and students are expected to be available to sit supplementary examinations at this time. Students who are offered a replacement examination, but who fail to sit on the set date and time without satisfactory medical or compassionate reasons submitted in writing (see above), will be deemed to have failed Topics in Forensic Sciences.
    Assessment Detail
    Assignments will be in the form of essays/short answers.  The exam will include short essays. The online tests will be comprised of MCQ’s.

    Referencing in assignments
    Answers should be written in your own words to demonstrate your personal understanding and should be referenced where appropriate. It is not appropriate to use sentences straight from a textbook, journal article or website, or even to just reorganise a sentence or change a few words from information in a textbook, journal article or website. Information obtained from reference sources should be extensively rewritten to demonstrate your understanding of the topic.

    Appropriate referencing is important for academic integrity. It is important that the contribution of the work of others is acknowledged, it provides evidence to support your argument and it provides evidence that you are not plagiarising. The reader should be able to consult the exact source of your information. You should ensure that your reference includes the information that you are stating it contains. When using a journal article as a reference, you should have read the entire article, not just the abstract.

    All sources used for obtaining information should be referenced, including lecture notes.

    Each reference must be indicated in the text and in a reference list at the end of the assignment. When referencing use the Harvard style, by citing the first author (followed by et al if there are also others) and the year of publication in the text and putting the references in alphabetical order by first author in a references section at the end of the assignment. Please ensure that you understand how to how to use the Harvard system, including referencing chapters from textbooks. Information can be found via the University of Adelaide Library at
    Page numbers containing information obtained from books, in addition to journals, should be stated.

    Turnitin is a web-based tool for students and staff to check for plagiarism. We suggest that you use this program as a check before submitting your assignments.
    Log on to scroll down to near the bottom of the page and click on the “ Quick Guide for Students” this will explain all you need to know about the program. The class ID for Topics in Forensic Sciences is 1891559 and the password is pathology. Be aware that academic staff may use Turnitin to check for plagiarism.

    Mark penalties may be applied for inappropriate referencing in assignments and for not following these guidelines. This may include being awarded 0 marks for the assignment. Unacceptable practices in addition to frank plagiarism include presenting information without appropriate reference to the original source and students separately submitting the same or very similar pieces of work with the intention to deceive the assessor as to the contribution they have made to the assessment work (collusion).

    Please ensure that you have read the University’s Policy on Plagiarism. It is each student’s responsibility to read and follow the instructions distributed by the university, school and discipline, including course guides and those related to assessment tasks. These include referencing requirements. Ignorance of appropriate practices, carelessness in note taking and referencing, and finishing an assignment in a hurry are not excuses for inappropriate referencing.
    Students will be required to download and answer two assignments and two MCQ tests during the course. These will be made available on MyUni at different times during the semester as specified in the course timetable. Assignments should be submitted by 12:00pm on the due date. A hard copy of the assignments, with a signed coversheet (downloaded from MyUni), should be placed in the designated box outside Room N131a.

    Penalties will apply for late submission of assignments unless an extension with appropriate reasons and supporting documentation (e.g. medical certificate) is requested from the course coordinator before the due date and time of submission. Otherwise, submission up to 3 days late will result in a loss of 50% of your assignment mark and submission later than this will result in no marks being awarded.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.