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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit:
Course Prefix and Number: FRSC 475
Course Title: Senior Seminar in Forensic Science
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description: A seminar course required as a culminating experience for all seniors majoring in Forensic Science. This capstone course integrates prior learning while exploring current research, contemporary issues and professional standards in forensic science. Completion with a grade of C or higher is required. Prerequisites: Senior standing; Forensic Science major.
Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s): Senior standing; Forensic Science major.
Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered Fall and Spring.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Forensic Science Under Siege; The Challenges of Forensic Laboratories and the Medico-Legal Investigation System
By Pyrek, Kelly M. (Elsevier Academic Press)
Course Objectives
  • To broaden the student’s understanding of and appreciation for the role of the forensic scientist in the criminal justice system.
  • To expose the student to current research and contemporary issues related to forensic science.
  • To empower students in advocating the need for reform when necessary.
  • To enhance the student’s understanding of the roles and functions of forensic scientists in interacting with law enforcement, courts and correctional entities in the criminal justice system and to heighten the student’s sensitivity to the limitations placed on these agencies.
  • To prepare students for entry level careers in the forensic science field through the integration and synthesis of prior coursework.
  • To enhance knowledge and understanding of current best practices in crime laboratories and other related entities.
  • To enhance critical thinking, research and writing skills on forensic science issues.

    Measurable Learning
  • Describe the role of the forensic scientist in the criminal justice system.
  • Explain the impact of public policy decisions on the Medico-Legal Investigation System.
  • Identify important court decisions which apply to Medico-Legal investigative entities and explain the significance of these decisions on the current practices in crime laboratories.
  • Construct and evaluate arguments for and against proposed reforms in the Medico-Legal Investigation System.
  • Describe and evaluate the relationship between philosophy, theory, policy and practice in the Medico-Legal Investigation System.
  • Explain, evaluate and apply important theories and policies regarding forensic science issues.
  • Describe the typical work environment and career path for forensic science professionals.
  • Demonstrate technological and communication skills consistent with the level of competence currently expected for entry level professionals.
  • Identify career opportunities for forensic science professionals and demonstrate knowledge of the job acquisition process for forensic science professionals.
  • Appraise current literature and developments regarding the Medico-Legal Investigation System.
  • Collect, interpret and apply data and research on relevant topics concerning the justice system.
  • Integrate previous course work through generally accepted scholarly techniques and submit a written report and deliver and oral presentation synthesizing all of the above.
  • Complete relevant assessment devices designed for Forensic Science majors.
    Topical Outline:
  • Forensic Science: celebrated and vilified
  • The stakeholders in forensic science: roles, perspectives, and expectations
  • Introduction to the U.S. Forensic Laboratory System
  • Reality of the U.S. Forensic Laboratory System
  • Introduction to the U.S. Medico-Legal Death Investigation System
  • U.S. Medico-Legal Death Investigation System under siege
  • Real story of the U.S. Medico-Legal Death Investigation System
  • The Courts: battlefield for the truth and a changing paradigm
  • Not all science is created equal
  • DNA: convicting the guilty, exonerating the innocent
  • Evidence trilogy and forensic science
  • Stakeholders in court: judges, juries, experts and attorneys
  • Champions of forensic science: advocacy and funding efforts
  • Road to redemption: and agenda for reform
  • New initiatives and the future of forensic science

    In an effort to better prepare students for future educational pursuits and professionalism in their chosen fields, it is highly recommended that all courses bearing the CJAD prefix contain both a writing and speech communication component. Formal writing projects should be prepared in APA format.

    A primary purpose of the culminating experience is to assess learning outcomes in the major. It demonstrates the following set of characteristics:
  • The experience occurs after the completion of appropriate foundational skills, electives, and requirements.
  • Assessment instruments used in the experience measure student achievement of the stated learning objectives for the major.
  • Departmental faculty uses the information given by assessment to improve teaching and learning in the major.

    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the Major Field Test (MFT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 20

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Barry Langford Date: November 21, 2013
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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