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FORB201 Forensic Biology

An introduction to forensic biology. Trace and contact evidence, DNA, body fluids, traumatology, forensic entomology, toxicology and fibre analysis.

Key insights from the various fields within forensic biology to provide vital evidence in investigations of violent crime and disaster victim identification.

The paper is designed as an introduction for the student who is interested in analysing the biological aspects of forensic science at the crime scene and in a laboratory. Students will have the unequalled opportunity to interact with a range of national and international forensic experts, providing a sense of reality and authority that is unique.

The interactive practical sessions examine the entire process of conducting a forensic investigation, from the evidence at the mock ‘crime scene’, through the examination and evaluation of that evidence, to the story the media portray of violent crimes.

Warning: The content and discussion in this paper will necessarily include many aspects of criminal death investigation. Some lectures and the reflective essay assessment may be emotionally challenging to engage with. The course coordinators will foster a teaching environment of respect and sensitivity, whilst thoughtfully and critically engaging with potentially disturbing content. Graphic and intense content will be highlighted during summer school lectures.

Paper title Forensic Biology
Paper code FORB201
Subject Forensic Biology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Summer School (9 January 2023 - 24 February 2023) (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,141.35
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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54 points
Schedule C
This paper is available for interest only enrolments.
Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinators: Dr Angela Clark and Professor Warwick Duncan

Forensic Expert Guest Lecturers


Paper Structure

National and international forensic experts are invited as guest lecturers to broadly discuss the following topics:

  • Trace and Contact Biological Evidence, including DNA and Body Fluids
  • Forensic Odontology and Forensic Anthropology
  • Forensic Pathology and Trauma
  • Disaster Victim Identification
  • Forensic Entomology
  • Forensic Bias and Expert Testimonies
  • Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

Students must submit both assignments before sitting the final exam, which include:

  1. Short Answer In-Class Test (20%)
  2. Reflective Essay Assignment on a student-led topic involving human identification and methods of disaster victim identification (30%).
Teaching Arrangements

Four 50-minute lectures per week, plus five tutorials over the Summer School teaching period


Jackson and Jackson (2017) Forensic Science. Fourth edition. Harlow : Pearson Education Limited

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

By the end of this paper, students should:

  • Have acquired an overview of the multidisciplinary nature of forensic science
  • Understood and explain some of the contemporary issues in forensic biology
  • Develop key critical and self-reflective skills required of a forensic-thinker
  • Be able to apply basic critical analysis to forensic questions
  • Have developed an understanding of the processes that govern the collection and examination of evidence at a crime scene
  • Have a firm grasp of the standard Interpol process for Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) and able to synthesise and produce an original piece of reflective work based on a mass disaster

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Summer School (9 January 2023 - 24 February 2023)

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 13:00-13:50 2-7
Tuesday 14:00-14:50 2-7
Wednesday 12:00-12:50 5
Wednesday 13:00-13:50 2-7
Friday 13:00-13:50 2-7


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
A1 Thursday 09:00-09:50 4
Thursday 10:00-10:50 3, 5-7
A2 Thursday 10:00-10:50 4
Thursday 11:00-11:50 3, 5-7
A3 Thursday 12:00-12:50 4
Thursday 13:00-13:50 3, 5-7
A4 Thursday 13:00-13:50 4
Thursday 14:00-14:50 3, 5-7
A5 Thursday 14:00-14:50 4
Thursday 15:00-15:50 3, 5-7