From Sherlock Holmes to CSI: a history of forensic medicine
|Unit level:||Level 3|
|Teaching period(s):||Semester 1|
|Offered by||Centre for History of Science, Technology & Medicine (L5)|
|Available as a free choice unit?:||Y
To investigate the growing literature on the legal application of medical and scientific expertise; to contextualise contemporary understandings of and interest in forensics and its popular representations; to consider the history of forensics as a practical example of the dynamics of public understanding of science.
20 credit unit only: to explore in detail some aspect of these themes through an individually supervised research project.
In this unit you will investigate the growing literature on the legal application of medical and scientific expertise. The unit will contextualise contemporary understandings of and interest in forensics and its popular representations and consider the history of forensics as a practical example of the dynamics of public understanding of science. Topics include; "Determining Sanity", "Poison and the Victorians" and "DNA Fingerprints, Proof and Persuasion".
By the end of this Unit, a student will have an appreciation of the basic features of historical developments in 19th and 20th century forensic medicine and science; the social, institutional and technical foundations for rise of specific forensic techniques; the conditions governing the application of forensic techniques in specific historical cases; the sources of debate in the medical, scientific, legal and public domains concerning the credibility of forensic evidence; the historical impact of popular representations of forensics.
- Analytical skillsClass discussion and all written work, including exams, requires analysing critiquing scholarly works as well as primary sources
- Group/team workingCollaboration on short in-class projects during workshop sessions
- Oral communicationStudents encouraged to pose and answer questions in lectures, and discuss readings and course themes in workshop session
- Written communicationShort essay and essay exam for all students.
Assessment Further Information
1500 word essay (50%); two hour final exam (50%)
- From Baker Street to CSI: An introduction and overview
- History of Forensics and Crime
- Technologies of Identity
- Determining Sanity
- Poison and the Victorians
- Tales from the Dead
- Making the Crime Scene
- Experts and Trust
- Forensics in the DNA Age
- Watching the detectives: from Baker Street to CSI
- Course Review
Students may ask questions at any time during lectures and seminars. Teaching staff can usually answer specific queries by email or during office hours, and will provide contact details in the course handbook or at lectures. All submitted coursework will be returned with annotations and an assessment sheet explaining the mark awarded.
- Independent study hours - 0 hours