About this Course
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Flexible deadlines

Flexible deadlines

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Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Hours to complete

Approx. 14 hours to complete

Suggested: 5 weeks of study, 2-3 hours/week...
Available languages

English

Subtitles: English
100% online

100% online

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Flexible deadlines

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Beginner Level

Beginner Level

Hours to complete

Approx. 14 hours to complete

Suggested: 5 weeks of study, 2-3 hours/week...
Available languages

English

Subtitles: English

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

Week
1
Hours to complete
4 hours to complete

Week 1 - What is the "DNA" of a good forensic report ?

This first week will set the scene for the course. You will meet the instructors; learn about their background, teaching, research and casework activities. The School of Criminal Justice (University of Lausanne) will be shortly presented through a virtual visit, followed by the course objectives. The recent ENFSI guideline for evaluative reporting, used throughout the course, will be presented. ENFSI stands for the set of the good principles for writing forensic reports to be used in a court of law. The whole course aims at contrasting the practice as observed in notorious cases with the good practice promoted by the ENFSI guideline. Hence, we will start by setting out some reporting criteria that are essential to bring reliable evidence in court and explain the principles of interpretation (based on the concept of likelihood ratio) that should govern the production of any forensic evidence. The application of these principles leads to a defined way whereby the forensic scientist is entitled to speak to court....
Reading
12 videos (Total 124 min), 7 readings, 1 quiz
Video12 videos
Presentation and visit of The School of Criminal Justice7m
Course learning objectives10m
Week 1 Introduction: What is the “DNA” of a Good Forensic Report?14m
Forensic Science and Evaluative Reporting9m
Uncertainty in the Criminal Trial13m
Principles of forensic reporting (Part A): 1st Principle12m
Principles of forensic reporting (Part B): 2nd and 3rd Principles7m
ENFSI Guideline for Evaluative Reporting13m
Conclusion of week 1: What is the “DNA” of a Good Forensic Report?10m
Interview with Prof. Colin Aitken8m
Interview with Dr Sheila Willis8m
Reading7 readings
Instructors10m
Development Team5m
Guests interviewed10m
Syllabus and Grading policies10m
Discussion forum guidelines10m
Getting started: Break the ice !10m
Additional literature Week 110m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Week 130m
Week
2
Hours to complete
3 hours to complete

Week 2 - Elementary: source is not activity !

There is a general misconception that a piece of forensic evidence is sufficient to clinch the outcome of a case. This module aims at showing that the reality is more subtle and is intrinsically linked to the concept of hierarchy of propositions. Cases based on DNA and gunshot residue (GSR) evidence will be analysed and discussed. First, through the Weller case we will demonstrate the DNA findings providing information towards the source of the DNA may not be at the core of the issue in the case. More and more the source of the DNA is not challenged, but how the DNA got there is. ...
Reading
8 videos (Total 132 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video8 videos
Part A - DNA recovered on a suspect (1): Hierarchy of Propositions13m
Part A - DNA recovered on a suspect (2): the Weller Case15m
Part B - Gunshot residues recovered on a suspect: The George case26m
Part C - DNA recovered on a victim (1): the Butler and Nealon cases20m
Part C - DNA recovered on a victim (2): Checklist for auditing statements8m
Week 2 Conclusion - Elementary: Source is not Activity !5m
Interview with Dr Ian Evett and Prof. Graham Jackson34m
Reading1 reading
Additional literature Week 210m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Week 230m
Week
3
Hours to complete
4 hours to complete

Week 3 - DNA is not the magic bullet

Based on international cases (Knox, Jama, Anderson and Scott) we will illustrate the potentials aspects that one needs to consider when assessing the value of DNA found in small quantity. You will be shown how one performs DNA analysis and what type of results can be produced. We will apply the ENFSI and the ISFG guidelines for evaluative reporting in the case at hand and see if the principles advocated allow avoiding misleading evidence. We will compare the situations where large quantities of blood are found to cases where low template DNA is recovered. You will learn to contrast these two situations and discover what type of results can be expected and what methods allow a balanced and robust interpretation. This first part of the course will demonstrate that very sensitive techniques require robust interpretation methods. In the second part of the course, you will understand that with trace quantities, stringent control procedures are needed on the crime scene and in the laboratory. Indeed, pollution (or so-called contamination) is an aspect one needs to take into account. Cases (for example in Australia, the USA and England) have shown that the traces from the crime scene can be polluted at the hospital, by paramedics or in the laboratory. It is thus essential to consider this possibility, especially when DNA is the central (and only) element supporting the allegation of a person’s involvement in a crime. How to take into consideration the possibility of error/contamination when assessing the results will be presented....
Reading
12 videos (Total 199 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video12 videos
DNA in the lab (1): From Detection to Quantification14m
DNA in the lab (2): From Amplification to DNA Profile21m
Part A - The Knox and Sollecito case (1) Summary of the circumstances10m
Part A - The Knox and Sollecito case (2) Low Template DNA13m
Part A - The Knox and Sollecito case (3) Discussion and Conclusion19m
Part B - Transfer and pollution (1) the Jama case10m
Part B - Transfer and pollution: The Probability of Error/Pollution13m
Part C - Transfer and pollution: the Anderson and Scott cases14m
Week 3 Conclusion: DNA is not the Magic Bullet6m
Interview with Prof. Peter Gill27m
Interview with Prof. Pierre Margot37m
Reading1 reading
Additional literature Week 310m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Week 330m
Week
4
Hours to complete
2 hours to complete

Week 4 - Statistics in Court

This week will be dedicated to how forensic scientists should convey the value of their results. From our white room dedicated to photography, we will study famous cases - including the Dreyfus case- and see how statistics can be misused. It will allow us to discuss how statistical values ought to be presented in court. A statistician (Phil Dawid) and a legal scholar (David Kaye) will be interviewed. The second essential topic we will present will be on fallacious reasoning, and in particular on what has been coined, more than thirty years ago, the prosecutors fallacy. Bill Thompson, the first to have described this fallacious argument used in court will be another of our guest interviewees. ...
Reading
8 videos (Total 98 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video8 videos
Part A - Statistics in Court (1): the Clark and Collins Cases13m
Part A - Statistics in Court (2): the Clark and Collins Cases12m
Part B - The Transposed Conditional (1): Prosecutor's Fallacy18m
Part B - The transposed conditional (2): The Adams and the Dreyfus Cases14m
Week 4 Conclusion: Trials by Numbers or Numbers on Trial ?3m
Interview with Prof. David Kaye19m
Interview with Prof. William Thompson12m
Reading1 reading
Additional literature Week 410m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Week 430m

Instructors

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Alex Biedermann

Associate Professor
School of Criminal Justice - ESC
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Franco Taroni

Full Professor
School of Criminal Justice - ESC
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Christophe Champod

Full Professor
School of Criminal Justice - ESC
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Tacha Hicks

Scientist
School of Criminal Justice - ESC

About University of Lausanne

The University of Lausanne is a Swiss state university founded in 1537. It is focused on Medicine, Life Sciences, Geosciences, Environmental Sciences, Business, Humanities, Social Sciences and Sport Sciences. UNIL is a research-intensive university which encourages interdisciplinarity. It is also renowned for its innovative teaching methods....

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

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