University of Technology Sydney

65315 Forensic Research Project

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2023 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Science: Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Credit points: 6 cp
Result type: Grade and marks

Requisite(s): 65316 Criminalistics

Description

In this subject students act as forensic science research consultants for industry relevant projects. Students work collaboratively to design, implement, analyse and report on operational forensic research questions. Through the workshop classes students are able to develop their research literacy, data analysis, written and oral communication skills. During the practical classes students develop their practical skills through the inquiry-oriented practical nature of the subject. At the end of the subject, students have produced an original body of research that contributes to the research culture of forensic science. This subject also provides students with a strong foundation should they wish to pursue further research in Honours or other postgraduate study.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Critically evaluate forensic science literature to formulate research questions and interpret experimental results
2. Design experiments that aim to address a research question
3. Generate and analyse results using appropriate tools and techniques
4. Incorporate experimental methods, results and observation into a laboratory notebook
5. Compose a scientific report and scientific poster that summarises the outcomes of your experimental work
6. Communicate experimental plans and findings in a clear manner

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of following course intended learning outcomes:

  • Analyse: Critically analyse and evaluate data, experimental results, and academic literature. (2.2)
  • Apply: Practise safe, responsible, and professional conduct in laboratory and practical settings. (3.1)
  • Analyse: Practise professional ethical conduct through work-integrated learning. (3.2)
  • Synthesise: Demonstrate initiative and innovative thinking through creative problem solving applied to new case scenarios, situations, or challenges in forensic science practice. (4.3)
  • Synthesise: Explain experimental findings to communicate conclusions, expert opinion, and the justification of professional decisions effectively to expert, scientific, and non-expert audiences. (5.3)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

Graduate Attribute 2: Research, inquiry and critical thinking

In this subject, students will be allocated an industry research proposal, from this proposal they will need to work collaboratively to design and conduct the experiments that will attempt to address the research question. Students will need to research the literature in order to develop an achievable project plan within the time frame and exhibit a high degree of autonomy in completing their goals. Students will be supported in the development of their research and critical thinking skills through a series of scaffolded workshops which will focus on the important skills they will need to complete the research project. During the workshop, students will be given activities that provide them an opportunity to develop and receive feedback on their research skills so they an implement these into their research projects. Students will be assessed on these skills as part of assessment task 1, 3 and 4.

Graduate Attribute 3 Professional, ethical and social responsibility

This subject aims to provide students with a work-integrated learning experience by having students work as forensic science research consultants for industry. Students will need to apply their knowledge and understanding from their previous subjects to achieve their research aims. In order to successfully complete their projects, students will need to conduct a research risk management plan and assess any potential hazards that their work may pose. Students will also need to consider any potential ethics implications of their work as well as the appropriate management of their data. Students will be provided with activities to help guide the students through these areas, in these classes students will receive written feedback on their risk management plans and ethical reflections. Students will be assessed on these skills in assessment task 1 and 2.

Graduate Attribute 4: Reflection, innovation and creativity

As a researcher, students will need to think critically and creatively in order to design experiments that will help them address their research question. Each week students will need to reflect on their previous weeks experiments to adapt their future experiments. Students will develop their reflective practices through the practical classes and the lab notebook. Each week students will need to summarise their experiments in order to determine the best course of action. Students will also be provided with opportunities in the practical and workshop classes to discuss and receive feedback on their project ideas with staff. Students will be assessed on their reflection in assessment task 2.

Graduate Attribute 5: Communication

An important skill for any researcher is the ability to communicate their results and findings to a wide variety of audiences. Students will have an opportunity to develop their verbal and written communication skills. Building on their experience from previous subjects, students will prepare and present an oral project plan that will form the basis of their research project. As the semester goes on, students will further develop their communication skills through the translation of experimental observations and raw data in the lab notebook to a scientific paper and poster. Students will develop these skills in the specific workshops where they will have an opportunity to review and benchmark example posters and presentations. Students will be assessed on their communication skills in assessment tasks 1, 3 and 4.

Teaching and learning strategies

Students will attend a series of workshops and practical classes, these classes provide students with an opportunity to work collaboratively on their allocated projects.

Workshops and independent learning activities

Each week the workshop classes will focus on building the students skills in different areas that will ultimately support them to conduct their research and complete their project. During workshops students will work collaboratively on a series of exercises designed to strengthen their skills in a wide range of areas including literature searching and management, referencing, data analysis, report writing and presentation skills. During these classes students will have an opportunity to apply these skills on their experimental results. Students will receive written and verbal feedback on these activities both in class and through submissions online. There will also be an opportunity for students to engage in peer-feedback during these classes as they present draft posters and updates from their experimental work.

Practicals

During the practical classes students will work in groups of 3-4 students on an allocated industry proposed project. Students will need to implement an achievable project plan within the time frame of the semester and design experiments in order to obtain meaningful outcomes. During the practicals students will be required to work autonomously and collaboratively in order to complete their project. Students will be guided through the initial stages of their project, however by the end of the project the students should have the skills to be independent researchers. Throughout the practical classes, students will have the opportunity to discuss their experimental plans with staff and receive feedback on their progress and proposals.


An aim of this subject is to help you develop academic and professional language and communication skills to succeed at university and in the workplace. During the course of this subject, you will complete a milestone assessment task that will, in addition to assessing your subject-specific learning objectives, assess your English language proficiency.

Content (topics)

Students will learn:

  • Experimental design
  • Literature searching and referencing
  • Risk management
  • Data analysis
  • Scientific poster preparation
  • Scientific journal writing

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Project Presentations

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

2. Research, inquiry and critical thinking.
3. Professional, ethical and social responsibility.
5. Communication.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 5 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

2.2, 3.2 and 5.3

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 30%
Length:

Project Presentation: 10 Minute Presentation
Poster Presentation: A0 Size Poster

Criteria:

A full rubric will be provided on Canvas with specific guidelines and information for each of the below criteria.

For the project plan, students will be assessed on:
Feasibility of experimental plan
Appropriate literature to provide context to experiment and justify procedures
Slide quality
Voice clarity and projection
Ability to answer questions

For the scientific poster students will be assessed on:
Presentation of data and information
Structure
Use of suitable diagrams and text
Effective communication of research outcomes

Assessment task 2: Laboratory Notebook

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

3. Professional, ethical and social responsibility.
4. Reflection, Innovation, Creativity.
5. Communication.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

3, 4 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

3.1, 4.3 and 5.3

Type: Portfolio
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 30%
Criteria:

A full rubric will be provided on Canvas with specific guidelines and information for each of the below criteria.

The content of their laboratory notebooks: Does it contain all the data and information necessary to reproduce the experiment and works? Presentation: Is the lab notebook set out in a clear and concise manner that is easy to follow and structured in a logical way?
Scientific practice: Has the student followed appropriate scientific convention in analysing and presenting their data?

Assessment task 3: Scientific Journal Article

Intent:

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following graduate attributes:

2. Research, inquiry and critical thinking.
5. Communication.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):

2.2 and 5.3

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 40%
Length:

3000-5000 words

Criteria:

A full rubric will be provided on Canvas with specific guidelines and information for each of the below criteria.
Students will be assessed on:

Ability to retrieve and incorporate scientific literature
Application of appropriate experimental design and method
Ability to analyse and interpret data
Formatting and references appropriate for a scientific journal article
Writing for a scientific audience

Minimum requirements

Students are strongly recommended to attend all practicals and workshops.

The practicals for this subject are an integral part of learning the material, thus students are strongly recommended to attend all scheduled practical sessions. Failure to attend a class that is associated with an assessment item will attract a mark of zero for that assessment item unless an acceptable reason for the absence, supported by relevant documentary evidence, is provided.

English language proficiency: It is a requirement of this subject that you complete Assessment task 3. Should you receive an unsatisfactory English language level, you may be required to complete further language support after the completion of this subject.