Forensic Medicine & Science Course

Forensic Medicine & Science Course

What happened? Who is this person? When did he die? How did he die? Why did he die? And, possibly, who did it? Fascinated? Then the Forensic Medicine and Science Course is for you!

Introduction and background

The Forensic Medicine & Science Course is an introductory 30 week night class run on a Tuesday. It  covers the basic elements of Forensic  medicine, science and law applied to the investigation of death and crime.


A non-exhaustive list of the topics covered include the role of the procurator fiscal and forensic pathologist in the investigation of death, sudden natural death, post mortem changes, wounds & trauma, asphyxia, fingerprinting, biological evidence, forensic anthropology, forensic odontology, forensic entomology, fire investigation, cybercrime, the investigation of sexual offences and forensic wildlife investigation. Although not specifically targeted at any professional group, the course will be of interest to professionals with a forensic remit such as the police, nurses, prosecution and defence lawyers. The course will also stimulate all those with an interest in this fascinating subject.


All students who successfully complete the assessed work for the course will receive a Certificate of Completion of the Course.


The lecturers on the course have extensive experience gained from investigating many real-life cases (including the investigation of the Lockerbie bombing and other high profile incidents).


Educational aims of the programme

The course aims to explore the basic elements of medicine, science and law as applied to the investigation of death and crime, and its application to the court law.


On completion of the course the student should be able to:

  • Describe the main medical, scientific and legal definitions, concepts, techniques and methods utilised in forensic investigation;

  • Explain and discuss the principles of medical, scientific and technical evidence-gathering and of the presentation of such evidence in courts of law;

  • Describe and discuss the basic mechanisms whereby natural disease, external trauma, drugs and poisons cause harm resulting in illness and death and describe and interpret the changes observed;

  • Illustrate the multi-disciplinary nature of forensic investigations;

  • Evaluate and critically analyse the evidential significance of different evidence types;

  • Illustrate the limitations of medical and scientific investigation in assisting judicial processes, accident investigation and in the investigation of human rights abuses;

  • Examine and explain the underlying principles governing legal processes, the working of the courts and medical ethics.


Transferable skills

  • Develop information search strategies and effective and efficient use of available resources.

  • Ability to participate in group discussion and address contemporary issues in science and medicine.


Programme structure

The Forensic Medicine & Science Course covers all the major aspects of the forensic disciplines. Though not compulsory, candidates will find it useful to have a basic familiarity with one of medicine, science or law, although it is emphasised that an in-depth knowledge of these subject areas is not required to successfully complete the course.


Teaching & delivery method

This 30 week course is taught at the University of Edinburgh (within the Central Campus) with lectures being held once a week on a Tuesday evening (18.00 to 21.00 at the latest - some lectures will finish earlier). Material to support the lectures will be available. Assessment is on the basis of three pieces of written work (essays and case studies) and a closed book written examination (6 short essay style answers from 9 questions). Lecturers are drawn from a number of academic and professional institutions.


The course commences in October and runs to June.


Information on Course dates, fees and registration.


We reserve the right to alter the course content, dates, venue and/or fees if required.