Forensic Science Program
Our comprehensive Forensic Science program teaches you how to identify, collect and analyze forensic evidence for use in pursuing criminal perpetrators. Designed by practicing professionals, each practical lesson brings you closer to your career goal.
Lesson Group 1: Orientation: Ashworth College Career ProgramLesson: Learning at Ashworth
The goals and values of Ashworth College; time management; creating a realistic weekly and monthly study schedule; the nature and purpose of assessments; how to study effectively to prepare for and take an online examination; developing the skill sets necessary for success in the twenty-first century.
Students will learn about federal and state laws and federal and state court systems. Students will also learn about types of crimes, the civil litigation and criminal justice processes, and careers in the legal and criminal justice fields.
Lesson Group 2—Foundations of Forensic ScienceLesson: Introduction to Forensic Science
Students will learn about the history and development of forensic science, important contributors to the field, and the proper procedures taken when processing a crime scene. Students will also learn about crime laboratories, common types of physical evidence, and the significance of physical evidence.
This lesson introduces students to the fundamentals of crime-scene reconstruction. Students will learn about personnel involved in crime-scene reconstruction, bloodstain formation features and patterns, and documenting bloodstain pattern evidence.
Students will learn about the roles of the forensic pathologist, anthropologist, and entomologist in death investigations. Students will also learn about the different phases of an autopsy, common causes of death, and the chemical and physical changes that help estimate the time of death.
This lesson will introduce students to the history of fingerprinting, the principles of fingerprinting, and the differences among the three classes of fingerprints, including loops, whorls, and arches. Students will learn about the automated fingerprint identification system, different methods of detecting fingerprints, preservation of developed prints, and the process of creating and analyzing digital images. Students will also learn about the different types of microscopes, including the compound and comparison microscopes, and their functions.
Lesson Group 3—Impressions, Toxicology and Serology, and DNALesson: Firearms, Impressions, and Examination
In this lesson, students will learn about bullet and cartridge comparisons, automated firearms search systems, gunpowder and primer residues, collection and preservation of firearms evidence, and impressions left at crime scenes from items such as tools, tires, and shoes. Students will also learn about the difference between elements and compounds, forensic methods used in comparing glass fragments, the proper collection of forensic hair and fiber evidence, and the role of DNA typing in hair comparisons.
This lesson introduces students to the role of drugs in forensic science, including drug identification and collection and preservation of drug evidence. Students will also learn about forensic toxicology, including testing procedures for intoxication, collection and preservation of blood, and the role of the toxicologist.
In this lesson, students will learn about forensic analysis of trace elements, including the collection, preservation, and analysis of metal, soil, and paint evidence. Students will also learn about the nature of blood, immunoassay techniques, forensic characterization of bloodstain and semen, principles of heredity, and the collection and preservation of rape evidence.
This lesson introduces students to DNA, including the structure of DNA and the significance of DNA typing. Students will also learn about the importance of such computerized databases as the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the proper collection and preservation of biological evidence for DNA analysis.
Lesson Group 4—Investigation, Document Examination, and the Future of Forensic ScienceLesson: Fire and Explosion Investigation
This lesson introduces students to the forensic investigation of arson, the chemistry of fire, and the collection and preservation of arson and explosives evidence. Students will also learn about the analysis of flammable residues and explosives.
Students will learn about document examination, including handwriting and typescript comparisons, alterations, erasures, and obliterations, and other document issues. Students will also learn about the techniques document examiners use to uncover variations in ink pens and paper.
In this lesson, students will learn about hardware and software components of a computer, how a hard disk drive is partitioned, the areas of the computer that will be examined to retrieve forensic data, and how various Internet activities can be traced, recovered, and investigated. Students will also learn about mobile device forensics, including the different file systems commonly found in mobile devices, the different types of operating systems used in mobile devices and their impact on evidence collection and analysis, and the procedures for preserving evidence on a mobile device.
The Forensic Science program shows students how to identify, collect, and analyze forensic evidence for use in capturing criminal perpetrators. Program topics include the history and development of forensic science, common types of physical evidence, legal considerations at the crime scene, forensic toxicology, arson and explosives, and the history of fingerprinting.
After completing the Forensic Science program, students will be able to:
- Explain the career opportunities available to forensic investigators and describe the characteristics of professionals in the field.
- Describe what the term criminalistics encompasses and the significance of individual and class characteristics in the context of criminal investigations.
- Explain the purpose of securing, documenting, and processing the crime scene and outline the considerations involved in the collection of physical evidence, including legal and safety precautions.
- Describe typical procedures followed in the crime lab and in areas such as microscopy, fingerprint development, drug screening, serology, firearms investigations, trace evidence analysis, DNA profiling, and crime scene reconstruction.
- Describe common tools, processes, and evolving technologies in areas such as microscopy, fingerprint development, drug screening, serology, firearms investigations, trace evidence analysis, DNA profiling, and crime scene reconstruction.
- Explain how forensic scientists use the scientific method during evidence examination and analysis, and describe the factors that influence the selection and use of various analytical techniques.