This is the transcript for the video Bachelor of Forensic Science – Course Info

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Bachelor Forensic Science course information video. So before we begin today’s presentation, I would first like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation upon whose ancestral land our city campus now stands. I pay respects to the elders, both past and present, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge for this land. So welcome to this video. My name is Dr. Scott Chadwick and I am the course director for the Bachelor of Forensic Science. And I’m going to go through the Bachelor of Forensic Science to give you a bit more information about what the course is to hopefully help you make a decision about which course you want to study here. So today’s talk is going to run down through a few things. So first of all, why should study at UTS, then we’re going to move into what forensic science is, some more details about the course, some of the career opportunities and then how to apply for the course.

So the first thing is, why should you be thinking about studying science and math at UTS? Well, a big part of our design of our courses here at UTS is to allow our students the experience to develop real world skills. We want our students to gain the skills that they’re going to be using in their jobs or careers from the very beginning. So we very much design our subjects and courses to be very practical and hands-on. So even in that very first year, you are going to be doing your labs down in the super lab doing chemistry down there or biology. You’re also going to be learning about forensic science in the first year. And so we really want to be giving you guys the best experience possible as soon as possible. And we also open up for our students opportunities to work on research projects and internships, which is something that not a lot of other unis are able to offer their students. The really great thing about forensic science at UTS is that you’re actually learning from some of the world’s leading forensic scientists. So currently, our director of the Centre for Forensic Science is Professor Claude Roux, and he’s actually the International Association of Forensic Science president. And he, along with all the other stuff that we have here, are world renowned for the research and teaching that they do in forensic science. The facilities at UTS are fantastic, as I mentioned, we have the super lab, which is we actually have two super labs, which are very large teaching spaces where we have all different subjects, all happening at the same time. And they’re a really great way for our students to learn. Another really great advantage of studying at UTS for forensic science is that we have a crime scene simulation house where we set up each week a different crime scene for our students so that you can get that, again, real hands on and real world practical experience that you’d be looking for.

The other things to consider of why you should study at UTS is that we are industry connected, so a lot of people don’t know this, but the Bachelor of Forensic Science at UTS was actually the first ever forensic science course in Australia, and it’s been established since about 1996. So what this means is that a lot of the industry professionals that are working in government laboratories or policing agencies or health agencies, they’re actually UTS graduates. So that allows us unprecedented access to those employment agencies. And often they’re going to come to us to offer internship experiences for our students or to propose research projects for our students. So it’s a really connected community that we have at UTS to the employers of our graduates. The other thing to consider as well is that the research that we do here, particularly in the Centre of Forensic Science, has impact. So we work, again, very closely with policing agencies so that the work that we’re doing is going to help them to do their job. So if you look at how other universities compare, UTS is always quite highly ranked in terms of the scientific disciplines and forensic science is no different.

So what is forensic science? So we probably have an idea about what we think forensic science might be because it’s on TV and we see a lot of those crime shows. And that’s really good for us to get an interest in forensic science. But I think sometimes we kind of limit what forensic science means. So this diagram that we have here kind of lays out just how broad forensic science is. So if we have a look at the diagram, everything is centred around what we call the trace. Now the trace refers to a remanent of an activity or a person or an event. And that’s what forensic scientists are trying to study. We study traces. So if you consider things like archaeology, so they use relics and fossils to try and understand what happened thousands of years ago. Well, forensic science is trying to do the same thing. Except we’re not looking at relics or bones. We’re looking at actually fingerprints. We’re looking at DNA and we’re trying to understand not what happened thousands of years ago, but trying to understand what happened maybe hours ago or days ago or weeks ago. And we can kind of think of it like a historical science, but we try to understand what happened in the past by studying the traces that are left behind and underlying this idea of the trace. It’s kind of those broad scientific disciplines. So things like chemistry and biology are going to help us understand things like DNA and blood and blood stain pattern analysis. Chemistry is going to help us with drugs and toxicology and trying to understand what type of drugs they are. So we can see that there’s this underlying scientific discipline that then feeds into our forensic science study.

And that’s how we’ve kind of designed our courses to make sure that you have that scientific discipline underpinning that forensic science, but making sure that they’re kind of even in terms of their delivery. The other side is where we then apply forensic science so who are our end users. You got our criminal justice systems, which is a fairly common one, we have to go to court and present our cases. Laboratories where we do our lab work, but there’s other areas that we might be don’t think about with forensic science. So security, a really big area of growth, is in the digital and cyber security areas. So that’s something that we’re certainly interested in. And that’s why we’ve got a specific digital forensic science major that is the only undergraduate digital forensic science major in all of Australia, because we we recognise that that is where this industry is moving. And as more and more of our lives become online, we need to be able to understand the crimes that occur online. Things like defence, public health and public policy, how we as scientists and forensic scientists can help influence public policy and public health. And we’ll see how we might be able to do that in the next slide. But as you can see, forensic science is this very broad area that covers a whole range of different disciplines.

So forensic science or the role of forensic science can kind of be broken down into three main parts, so we start down at the bottom there. The most common role for forensic science, that we’re familiar with, is probably that investigation side where we look, a crime scene officer is is called to a scene, they’re asked to analyse that crime scene to recover any fingerprints or hair, fibres, glass, any of those sorts of traces to try and identify individuals to a single case. Then that investigation moves to the judicial system where, again, a investigator will present their evidence in court to potentially provide information to the courts on who who did that particular crime, but another area that we are seeing that forensic science is useful is actually in the area of forensic intelligence. So this is an area that we’re not focused just on one particular case or one particular area. We’re actually looking at multiple cases and trying to understand whether there are patterns in criminal behaviour so that we can try to disrupt or prevent that type of crime. So an example is, say, for instance, we, and we have a lot of break and enters occurring, in a particular area at a particular time and we started to notice a pattern. Well, we can use, once we recognise that as a pattern, using forensic intelligence, we can then start to divert our resources to try and prevent that. So we might inform the police and say these robberies are occurring all in the same sort of location at the same time. So there should be an increase of resources being dedicated to that particular area in the hopes to disrupt or prevent that crime from occurring. And so this is having that sort of bigger picture role that forensic science can take. So I’m not just worried about one case, but looking at the bigger picture. And that’s kind of what we want our students to be thinking about, not just focusing on the very small and new details, but also having that broader understanding of forensic science and the role it has to prevent crime from occurring.

So what will you study here at UTS? So we had designed this course to provide our students with as much forensic skills as possible. So we’ve identified some core forensic subjects that our students need to do before they then move into their specialisation. So we introduced the basics of principles of forensic science, forensic imaging and forensic statistics in that first year. And that gives you the sort of fundamentals and basics that it doesn’t matter what major you’re in, that those are the sort of skills that we want you to have for that first year. We then move into the second year and we have subjects like crime scene investigation and criminalistics. And then after that, those sort of subjects, we then move you into your particular majors and I’ll show you what each of the degrees look like in a few more slides.

So we split everybody out into the different majors and you’ll learn more of the discipline, specific skills and information. So we’ve got our chemistry major, our biology major, our crime scene major and our digital maager. Now, what’s really neat is that if you are interested in the chemistry, biology or crime scene major, you are able to change that major right up until the end of the first year. So if you want, you can at the start before you even have a class, you might decide I really want to do the crime scene investigation, major. And during that sort of first year, you might find that you’re actually enjoying the chemistry subjects a bit more. And you think you might want to do that. You can change your major with no delay to your progress in that first year. So we kind of give you a bit of flexibility with your majors, which is a really neat thing that not a lot of other universities can offer the digital major, because it is very specific, it has a slightly different first year. So, again, I’ll show you what that looks like as we move through the presentation but that’s just something to be aware of. Now, the other thing that we take into account is after you go into your different majors, we like to bring all of the students back to work together on some more common and core subjects, because this is ultimately what things are going to be like in the real world.

Forensic science is not a siloed study. It’s not where the chemists don’t talk to the biologists, don’t talk to the crime scene people. Everybody has to work together to assist the investigators in solving that crime. So we’ve designed our courses to reflect that as well. So we bring everybody back together for their final year and we do subjects like complex cases where everybody is working on one very large case and we want to be working together on that one. Forensic intelligence, so this is what I spoke about earlier, so using data and information to try and prevent and disrupt crime. And then a subject called forensic research project, where we engage with our industry partners and get our students to work on the projects that are of the most need for them. So we get that sort of student and industry engagement occurring in that final year. The other great thing that our program allows our students is there is a semester of free electives, which means that we can have our students go on internships or if they want to, they could potentially go in exchange for a semester. So we have quite a bit of flexibility for our students to begin, to be able to do all sorts of different things in that final year. So I’m not just going to go through the individual majors and explain in a bit more detail about the subjects that our students will be studying.

So we’ve going to start off with our biology major, so the first year for our biology major is we’ve got the basics of chemistry, maths, physics, not physics, that’s the crime scene major, sorry, no physics in the biology, chemistry, maths and biology in that first year. And as you can see, we’re starting our students off with those forensic science subjects in the first year, which is not something that a lot of other unis are able to offer. When we move into our second year, that’s where we start to get into the more biology specific subjects. So our students are doing things like general microbiology, metabolic biochemistry and molecular biology. This is designed to help support them through our biological forensic subjects. So those are things like DNA profiling, forensic genetics and next generation sequencing. So it’s really kind of giving you that cutting edge biology skills with the application to forensic science. And you can also see in this program that there are quite a few elective options for our students, that they can pick and choose to either do some more biology type subjects or potentially to do some more forensic subjects if they wish. So what is, the sort of, summary points for our biology major? Well, again, UTS is all about providing our students with relevant skills. So we provide our students with the fundamental skills and scientific thinking, microbial and molecular biology. This then allows them to have a greater understanding of modern forensic genetics and how we use it in a forensic context. So our students are gaining the knowledge and tools to exploit biological traces. In terms of where our graduates end up, a lot of our graduates end up working for police or health laboratories, but they can also move into pathology or just regular medical labs because we still do provide a fairly solid foundation in those biological sciences. In terms of some elective opportunities, our students in the biology major can study things like investigation of human remains, biological criminalistics, forensic genetics and bio nanotechnology. So again, there is quite a suite of additional subjects that our students can take in the biology major.

The next major is our chemistry major. So, again, you’ll notice that that first year is exactly the same. We have our chemistry, our maths and our biology as our core first year along with those forensic subjects. Then when we move into our second year, the chemistry major, are going to do subjects like analytical chemistry one and organic chemistry one. Now, the reason why we want our students to be doing those subjects is organic chemistry helps us understand how chemistry works and how reactions work, because this is going to help us if we ever start to look at things like forensic toxicology or the chemistry and pharmacology of recreational drugs. So it’s certainly helpful for those sorts of things. So organic chemistry helps us understand how things are made and analytical chemistry is helpful in telling us how we know what things are.

So it uses a lot of cutting edge, cutting edge instrumentation to try and tell us what things are and how much of what we’ve got. So an example is they do projects around determining the amount of caffeine that is in soft drinks as part of those subjects there. So, again, it’s really giving our students the best hands on experience that they can. You then do a specialised subject called chemical criminalistics. So this is where we are looking at things like paint, hair, glass fibres to try and understand how they’re used for a forensic purpose. And we use a lot of sort of chemical tests to look at those types of traces. Again, there are some electives sort of sprinkled out throughout the chemistry major as well. So you do have that flexibility to take on some more chemistry subjects with some more forensic subjects. So what are our key points for the chemistry major? So, again, we’re giving our students the fundamental skills in analytical and organic chemistry and allowing them to have the tools and knowledge to exploit chemical traces. So, again, these are things like drugs, paint, hair, glass, fibres as well as documents and ink analysis. Again, the career opportunities are quite similar. Most of our grads will move into a police laboratory. However, we have also found that our students do move into general chemistry laboratories because, again, we are still giving you that fundamental chemistry skills that are sort of sought after by just general chemistry lab. So either in the analytical, synthetic or even pharmaceutical chemistry labs. And in terms of the disciplines that they can move into, you know, things like forensic toxicology and drug analysis, we’ve got quite a few of our graduates that are in the fire and explosion investigation area. But then also fingerprinting and document examination. So some electives that students can take, again, toxicology, document examination, medicinal chemistry and inorganic chemistry are some elective opportunities there.

OK, the next one is our crime scene investigation major. So again, that first year is exactly the same. We then move into our second year and we give them a bit of a mix. So we give our students some organic chemistry as well as some physics, because this is going to be helpful for when we have to look at bloodstain pattern analysis. Now, when we move into that second year, we get a lot more specialised in our crime scene subjects. So you will see that we have subjects like a homicide investigation, major scene investigation and investigation of human remains. So these subjects were designed by practicing or ex-practicing crime scene investigators, and they have designed these subjects to provide our students with the most relevant skills for these particular subjects. And then again, there are some electives that are able to be taken throughout this course. And in the third year that we bring everyone back, we’ve got our complex cases, forensic intelligence and forensic research project. And there is this advanced imaging specialist recovery where we look at the cutting edge of imaging technology. So three dimensional reconstructions of crime scenes, you taking measurements from images are all skills that we’re getting our students to do because again, they are industry relevant skills. So the crime scene investigation, major, kind of gives our students a sort of generalist science background in chemistry, biology and physics, which is then going to be helpful to assist in the investigation of crime scenes, crime scene management, career opportunities. So this one is very much focused on crime scene investigation. So our graduates will generally find work in policing agencies as a crime scene officer. So whether that’s a different state or for the Australian Federal Police, but there are other areas that they can move into. So we do find that some of our graduates move into the border force and customs and immigration or again, the areas of fire investigation. So the elective opportunities that are open to our crime scene major students is they can kind of take away a bit from our biology and chemistry majors. So they might want to do some more lab based subjects like chemical criminalistics or, you know, fire and explosion investigation. Or they might want to do the sort of general chemistry or biology subjects like analytical chemistry or microbiology.

The final major that I want to speak to you all about is our digital forensic science major. So you’ll notice straight away that first year is very different. We are still providing our digital forensic science students with the core forensic subjects, so principles of forensic science, forensic imaging, forensic statistics, criminalistics and crime scene investigation are all still there in our first and second year. But because the digital space is very different to the science space we provide our students with some fundamental I.T skills. So those are things like programming, networking and security fundamentals. So we want students to understand how the digital space works before we then introduce the digital forensic side. So we do do that quite a bit. When we move into our second year, we get into those more specialised digital forensic science skills. So the subjects digital trace and identity, digital and cyber crime and web monitoring and investigation is where we really take a deep dive into how digital forensic investigations actually work. We do study on how you might recover a deleted file or a deleted drive off someone’s computer, how you might be able to track through somebody’s emails understanding what is a cyber crime and how we can detect it. And if we know how we can detect it and how it works, then we can move into the sort of security side of things and understand how to prevent it from occurring. We obviously want to prevent threats from happening. So we’re kind of really excited about this particular major. And there is another video that you can have a look if you want to learn a bit more about digital forensic science, because we really see this as it’s kind of the new DNA. There’s certainly a lot more of our lives going online and more and more as we move things online, there is the potential for more crimes to occur. So we obviously want to be ahead of the curve and we want to give our graduates the best skills possible to do that.

So, again, the skills that we’re providing, our students are in the areas of programming, network design and digital forensic investigation. And this then allows students the knowledge and tools to detect and exploit those digital traces that we spoke about. The career opportunities are actually pretty broad for our digital major. The policing agencies are really struggling to keep up with the demand for digital forensic science students. There are way more cases coming in and they just don’t have the people with the expertise to be able to do that. So if it is something that you’re even slightly interested in, I would highly recommend that you might consider this particular major. The other thing to consider is that the digital major doesn’t just apply to policing agencies. A lot of large businesses, banking companies, and even just general accounting firms like Deloitte and Ernst and Young and all those other sort of big business companies, they’re all interested in protecting their digital assets. So we’ve actually had quite a few of our digital forensic science students through internships and graduate positions in those large companies because they obviously want to have an awareness of cyber security and protecting those digital assets. So the elective opportunities for our digital students is again creating those deeper understandings for the different types of areas. So things like mobile networks, the internet of things and data analytics in cyber security. So there is a pretty broad area in this digital major. And as I said, you want to learn a bit more about what it is and how we use it. There will be another video available on the website.

So as I said at the beginning, UTS prides itself on providing our students with hands on skills and experiences. And a way that we do that is through our research, integrated teaching. So our teaching staff are world leaders in all of these particular areas. So we have one of the largest areas of fingerprint detection research, and there’s about three or four academics that that study into that DNA profiling. Investigative genetics is also a very big area. We’ve got quite a few academics moving into that. In-field detection of explosives is more that sort of chemistry and how we can detect explosives at the crime scene. Forensic taphonomy is a really unique area that UTS has, and that’s the investigation of human remains and studying the decomposition of human remains in an effort to try and assist investigators in locating missing people or the remains of people.

So you may have heard on the news or online that UTS has a facility that we use to study human decomposition. And it’s a research centre that we can allow our students to attend, which is something that not a lot of other universities are able to offer their students. We have a lot of research going on in the forensic intelligence space. That sort of data analysis and data analytics, our drugs and toxicology area is quite large. Looking at new psychoactive substances, but also looking at the trends in our drug analysis and understanding what the new drugs that are out there so that we can inform police on potential threats to individuals. And we do have quite a few active academics moving into the digital forensics and also the crime scene sciences. So what’s really great is that because we have this very diverse range of academics that are performing this type of research, they like to bring this into their teaching. And we like to kind of provide our students with the kind of cutting edge knowledge and topics that they’re going to be seeing when they move out from the university.

Just some careers, I’ve kind of already spoken a little bit about this for all the different majors, but generally what we find is that most of our graduates will move into law enforcement in the areas of crime scene, lab techs or lab or data analysts. Now, again, particularly with those chemistry and biology majors, if you find that at the end, that forensic science is maybe not the best for you and you’re not interested in it anymore and you just would like a traditional laboratory position, we do find that a lot of our graduates move into those, you know, just general analytical laboratories, things like ANSTO, CSIRO, or even a pathology or hospital scientist role. Because we do have that intelligence focus, we have found that a number of our graduates end up being employed for ASIO. Unfortunately, we’re not able to confirm that they are, but we know. There are some other opportunities, particularly in the digital forensic science space, to move into private forensic agencies or to work for cybersecurity firms or those sort of big businesses and banks in the cyber security section.

So finally, thank you for listening. And hopefully I provided you with a bit more information about forensic science here at UTS. So if you do have any other questions and you’re not able to make the Q&A session, feel free to send an email to or head to our website, Now, if you want to catch up or see all the fun and exciting things we do here at UTS, then head to our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So thank you all for listening and I hope to see you next year or in the future. Thank you.