University of Technology Sydney

65342 Crime Scene Investigation

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): 65242 Principles of Forensic Science AND 65312 Forensic Imaging
These requisites may not apply to students in certain courses. See access conditions.


This subject provides students with an in-depth knowledge of the ideas underlying forensic science at the crime scene. It is designed to introduce the principles and concepts peculiar to a crime scene, focusing on the concept of the trace and its uses. Practical skills are taught alongside the concepts of scene examination. Lectures are complemented by online Canvas activities and practical sessions in the Crime Scene Simulation Facility.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

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

1. Understand and apply principles and techniques seen in the lectures to the examination of physical and biological evidence at a crime scene
2. Develop a strategy for how to approach the examination of a crime scene and how to decide whether an item/trace should be collected as potential evidence
3. Systematically search and document a crime scene through note taking, sketching and photography
4. Recognise the types of items and/or traces available at a crime scene and understand the decision making processes that underpin whether they should be collected
5. Assess the relevance and significance of the types of items and/or traces available at a crime scene and what potential evidence they might provide for court
6. Collect the relevant items and/or traces at a crime scene in an appropriate manner and packaging that minimised contamination, relocation and destruction

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

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

  • Apply: Demonstrate a command of forensic science practice, including the detection, collection, and analysis of traces using current, appropriate, and emerging processes and technologies. (1.1)
  • Analyse: Evaluate the collection of traces and interpret the results of analyses through the use of propositions, hypotheses, and statistical methods. (1.2)
  • Apply: Employ investigative and problem-solving skills to evaluate forensic science problems. (2.1)
  • 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)
  • Apply: Apply forensic science and professional skills with a high degree of personal autonomy and reflection. (4.1)
  • Apply: Demonstrate skills in case documentation. (5.1)
  • Analyse: Combine various methods to record and communicate observations and evaluation of traces throughout all stages of an investigation. (5.2)

Contribution to the development of graduate attributes

1.0 Disciplinary Knowledge

Students will develop a working knowledge of forensic science practice, collection of traces and integration of the derived information with the legal system in lectures and the practical sessions. Students will be introduced to the forensic investigative process of crime scene analysis and interpretation in the practical classes. Students will be assessed on their knowledge of these concepts and topics through weekly quizzes (Assessment Task 3) and on the application of their knowledge in four of the practical sessions (Assessment Task 1).

2.0 Research, Inquiry and Critical Thinking

Students will develop their investigative and problem-solving skills through the exercises presented during the practical sessions. Students will apply the Baysian approach to the the crime scene sessions, where students are expected to use the framework of the Hierarchy of Propositions to inform their decision making at the crime scene with respect to assessing whether an item or trace should be recovered as potential evidence. Students will be assessed on their ability to use problem solving skills and to make justifiably informed decisions in the crime scene sessions.

3.0 Professional, Ethical and Social Responsibility

Students are assisted through the practical exercises to learn to ask the right questions on the basis of context to help inform their decision making. Students are provided the opportunity to collect and report forensic traces using scientific instrumentation and procedures that translate directly to professional practice. Students are also taught the theory of scientific instrumentation relevant to crime scene investigation. These procedures are assessed in the practical sessions (Assessment Tasks 1 & 2), while the student's understanding of the theoretical basis for these practices is assessed in the weekly quizzes (Assessment Task 3).

During all the practical sessions, students will learn to collect and validate the results of crime scene analysis, and their ability to work both independently and as part of a team is developed. They will also gain an understanding of appropriate workplace health and safety practices. Students will be assessed on their ability to analyse a crime scene, as well as on their teamwork and individual efficiency, and on their ability to identify both personal safety requirements and that of others, in the crime scene sessions (Assessment Task 2).

Providing timely, accurate and unbiased information to the criminal justice system is a core requirement of forensic science. Students will develop their ability to assist the justice system in the practical exercises. Students will be assessed on their accuracy and unbiased evidence interpretation in the crime scenes (Assessment Task 2).

5.0 Communication

Students will learn various methods of documenting and communicating crime scene observations in the lectures. Students will further develop effective written communication skills in the practical sessions, at an intermediate level. Students will develop their reasoning ability by working through the scenarios presented and record their results from the practical sessions in contemporaneous notes. Knowledge of the theoretical basis of the documentation methods is assessed through the weekly quizzes (Assessment Task 3), while application of documentation methods is assessed in the practical exercises (Assessment Task 1) and in the crime scenes (Assessment Task 2).

Teaching and learning strategies

Online lectures and use of Canvas:

Announcements, assessment information, and mandatory subject materials and activities will be made available on Canvas. Students will attend one 2hr online lecture per week, a recording of which will also be provided on Canvas. These sessions introduce and explain key principles in crime scene investigation and relate the concepts to modern professional practice. Lecture time also offers opportunities for questioning and clarification of the subject material. To develop a complete understanding of the content, attendance is recommended at all lectures, along with completion of independent Canvas activities. Throughout the lecture series, there will be a number of guest lecturers to provide key areas of expertise; these lectures contribute to students' understanding of professional practice and industry expectations of graduates. Weekly quizzes will assess the understanding and application of the key principles as Assessment Task 3.

Practical classes:

The practical classes will take place on campus in the Crime Scene Simulation Facility, where students will put into practice the knowledge gained from the lectures, and consolidate how to conduct key practical techniques that are crucial to every Crime Scene Examiner. There will be formative feedback provided throughout the practical sessions, with four exercises being assessed (Assessment Task 1), which lay the foundation for both the full crime scene examination (Assessment Task 2) and the more advanced crime scene subjects. This ensures that all forensic science students, regardless of their major, have a solid foundational understanding of crime scene investigation, given that this is the first stage in any forensic science investigation. Students will usually work in groups to develop important practical skills that are highly sought-after by future employers, including an understanding of teamwork in a pressured environment. Attendance for the practical sessions and crime scenes is compulsory, and the completion of pre-laboratory exercises delivered online will be compulsory for all students before entering the laboratory sessions.

Content (topics)

  1. Introduction and key concepts
  2. Scene note taking and sketching
  3. Photography at the scene
  4. Fingerprinting at the scene
  5. DNA considerations
  6. Marks and traces
  7. Documents and digital traces
  8. Item and trace recovery and packaging
  9. Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA)
  10. From scene to court
  11. Practical application of skills to crime scene examinations


Assessment task 1: Practical Sessions


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

1. Disciplinary Knowledge

2. Research, inquiry and critical thinking

3. Professional, ethical and social responsibility

4. Reflection, Innovation, Creativity

5. Communication


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

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

1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.2, 4.1 and 5.1

Type: Laboratory/practical
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 50%

- Application of theoretical knowledge developed in lectures
- Completeness of recording information
- Quality of recording information
- Thoroughness
- Integration of feedback provided during practical sessions

Assessment task 2: Assessed Crime Scene


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

1. Disciplinary knowledge

2. Research, inquiry and critical thinking

3. Professional, ethical and social responsibility

5. Communication skills


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):

1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 3.1, 3.2 and 5.1

Type: Laboratory/practical
Groupwork: Group, group and individually assessed
Weight: 30%

- Teamwork and efficiency
- Ability to process a crime scene without contamination or destruction of evidence
- Quality of contemporaneous notes
- Quality of crime scene photography
- Completeness and quality of located and processed evidence
- Accurate and unbiased evidence interpretation to support the court system

Assessment task 3: Post-lecture Quizzes


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

1. Disciplinary Knowledge

2. Research, inquiry and critical thinking

5. Communication


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

1, 2 and 5

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

1.2, 2.2 and 5.2

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 20%

Each weekly quiz will be completed on Canvas and comprise of 4 questions (specific details will be provided
each week).


Quizzes will be marked based on accuracy of answers.

Minimum requirements

You are strongly encouraged to attend all lectures and practical sessions (both the online and on campus components) during the session.

Practical classes in subjects offered by the Faculty of Science are an important and integral part of your learning in this subject. In addition to assisting your understanding of application of concepts, practical classes develop hands-on crime scene skills and
experience, including skills and specialised techniques related to the assessment tasks. These also contribute to the
development of essential graduate attributes desired by employers. Thus, you are strongly encouraged to attend all scheduled
practical sessions.

If you cannot attend a scheduled practical session, please contact your Subject Coordinator as soon as possible to discuss your
situation. As the many of the practical sessions in this subject are assessed, then please make sure you are familiar with the
guidelines for when an application for special consideration, including COVID-related matters, must be submitted with respect to
missed, or to be missed, assessments:

The late submission of an assessment task may attract a penalty of up to 10% per day.

Recommended texts

Criminalistics - An Introduction to Forensic Science, Saferstein R., 10th ed., Prentice-Hall, 2011, ISBN 0-13-504520-7.

Other resources

  • The Practice of Crime Scene Investigation, Editor J.Horswell, CRC Press, 2004, ISBN 0-748-40609-3
  • Forensic Science Handbook I, Saferstein R. (Ed.), 2nd ed, Prentice-Hall, 2001, ISBN 0-13-091058-9.
  • Forensic Science Handbook II, Saferstein R. (Ed.), 2nd ed, Prentice-Hall, 2004, ISBN 978-0131124349.
  • Forensic Science Handbook III, Saferstein R. (Ed.), 2nd ed, Prentice-Hall, 2009, ISBN 9780132207157.
  • Interpreting Evidence - Evaluating Forensic Science in the Courtroom, Robertson R. & Vignaux G.A., John Wiley, 1995, ISBN 0471-96026-8.
  • Footwear Impression Evidence, Bodziak W., Elsevier, 1990, ISBN 0-444-01542-6.
  • Gunshot Wounds - Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and ForensicTechniques, Di Maio V.J.M., CRC Press, 1985, ISBN 0-8493-9504-6.
  • Fingerprints and Other Ridge Skin Impressions, Champod C., Lennard C.,Margot P., Stoilovic M., CRC Press, 2004, ISBN 0-415-27175-4.