FORENSIC EVIDENCE AND THE LAW - 2024/5

Module code: SOC2100

Module Overview

The primary focus of this degree programme is the work undertaken by a range of actors as part of a criminal investigation, from the initial investigation, the collection of evidence, and the subsequent analysis of that evidence, all with the purpose of ultimately identifying those responsible for the crime and securing their prosecution and conviction in court. The courtroom and our adversarial approach to the delivery of justice, however, present a range of challenges situated at the axis of the relationship between science, evidence, law, and procedure. This module therefore examines these issues and introduces students to the challenges faced by experts within the courtroom setting.

Module provider

Sociology

Module Leader

HALL Nathan (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 5

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 6

Guided Learning: 22

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

None

Module content

Indicative content includes for this module includes:


  • Evidential rules and procedures

  • The role of expert witnesses

  • Differentiation between expert and non-expert witnesses

  • Presentation of different types of evidence

  • Differential case file construction

  • Cross examination

  • Miscarriages of justice


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Case file construction 50
Oral exam or presentation Presentation and cross examination of evidence 50

Alternative Assessment

N/A

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have successfully met the learning outcomes of the module. Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of: 


  • Case file construction (50%). Utilising the evidence collected during the assessment for the semester one Criminal and Forensic Investigation module, students will construct a case file suitable for presentation in court. 

  • Presentation and cross-examination of evidence in a court situation (50%). Utilising the case file constructed for the assessment above, students will present their evidential case in the witness box of the authentic Court of the Future. Students will be "cross-examined" by tutors as part of their presentation and will receive additional formative feedback regarding their performance from their peers, who will take the role as jury members and collectively deliver their "verdict" regarding the extent to which they felt convinced by the evidence presented.



Why are we doing this?

The assessment strategy provides an excellent opportunity to achieve coherency and continuity between and across modules and their assessments, and to utilise the authentic resources and facilities available to students at the University ¿ in this instance, the crime scene space and the court of the future - to deliver a more immersive learning journey that reflects the sequence of events in the life cycle of a crime event. This will further allow students to ¿join up¿ the content of different modules (in particular Criminal Investigation: practice and application and Major Crime Management and Investigation), and to utilise the knowledge and learning acquired therein in relation to both theory and practice. The assessment strategy therefore allows for authenticity, with associated employability benefits, and for students to acquire and practice additional specific writing, critical thinking, and presentational skills required by professionals in the field.

Formative assessment

Informal formative assessment is conducted throughout the module during seminars where students have the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities and to receive both peer and tutor feedback, with the aim of allowing students to assess their progress week by week.

Feedback

Feedback and feedforward on summative assignments will be provided via SurreyLearn. This will indicate what students did well, less well, and what they need to do to improve in the future and will relate both to issues specific to the module and to transferable skills. Formative feedback will be provided throughout the module within in-class discussions and activities, and tutorials. The overriding aim of both formative and summative assessment and feedback is to support students in developing skills relating to the University¿s Curriculum Framework themes (see below) by providing constructive and reflective learning opportunities to help students to understand their strengths, and where and how they might improve, both specifically in relation to the module, but also more broadly in the context of their wider degree programme.

Module aims

  • Introduce students to evidential rules and procedures
  • Evaluate the contributions of a range of expert witnesses
  • Consider the presentation of different evidence types
  • Support students to construct a case file
  • Prepare students for the experience of cross examination
  • Reflect on miscarriages of justice and their causation

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Demonstrate a critical awareness of the requirements of the legal system in relation to the use of forensic and other evidence in court (through class discussions, activities, and module assessments) CK
002 Understand the role and value of expert witnesses (through class discussions and activities) KP
003 Be able to construct a case file suitable for presentation at court (through class discussions, activities, and module assessments) CKPT
004 Understand and experience the process of cross-examination (through class discussions, activities, and module assessments) CKP
005 Develop a critical understanding of evidential and other forms of system ¿failure¿ and their role in miscarriages of justice (through class discussions) K

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:


  • Enable students to develop and rehearse knowledge, practical skills, and critical thinking in relation to the presentation and evaluation of forensic and other forms of evidence in a court setting.

  •  Allow students to learn in a mutually supportive environment where they can benefit from the input of tutors, peers, and professional guest speakers

  • Engage students with the workings of the legal system, with the purpose of reinforcing the significance of properly understanding the wider investigative issues considered in both previous and future modules that comprise the programme

  •  Maximise learning by encouraging students to be actively engaged in decision-making, negotiation, evaluation of information, and the application of theory to practice, to address challenges and solve problems commonly faced by practitioners in a courtroom setting.



Having previously learned about how evidence is gathered from a crime scene, in this module students will learn how it utilised, managed, presented, and challenged in a court setting ¿ an environment that is very different from what has gone before in the investigative process. To recognise and appreciate the totality of an investigation in terms of reaching its ultimate conclusion, it is important therefore that students understand what subsequently happens to the evidence collected by police and forensic investigators at the scene of a crime, and what role those professionals then play in the adversarial court setting, where legal rules and procedures apply. 

To achieve this, learning and teaching methods will include lectures, seminars, workshops, casework examples, videos, active learning/discussion sessions, sessions held within the authentic Court of the Future, professional guest speakers, and online resources. Collectively, these methods will combine guided learning, independent learning, peer review, and self-reflection. The lectures will introduce and explain key concepts, theories, and core aspects of the practical application of the issues discussed. The seminars will provide students with the opportunity to be active participants in their learning experience by undertaking interactive exercises and group discussions, demonstrating their acquired understanding and knowledge, critical thinking, and communication skills. To build confidence and to engage students with diverse learning backgrounds, students will be encouraged to share their thoughts, ideas, and reflections, including those relating to their own experiences. Ongoing feedback opportunities from staff and peers will be variously present in seminars and tutorials, and online.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

https://readinglists.surrey.ac.uk
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOC2100

Other information

Surrey's Curriculum Framework is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas: Employability: this module allows students to both understand, and actively participate in, a range of principles and processes used within the presentation of evidence derived from a criminal investigation. Coupled with the development of critical thinking, reasoning, decision-making, argument and cross-examination, and other transferable skills, the module allows students acquire and practice attributes that will be attractive to employers in this field, some of which will be delivered by professionals working in different parts of the penal system. The focus of the assessment strategy will help to prepare students for the realities of the world of work because it allows them to be familiar with how different forms of evidence are dealt with by the courts. Moreover, this further enables students to appreciate the associated implications for the stages of investigation that take place before a case reaches court. In so doing, this helps students to develop a more holistic understanding of the complete process that takes place before a successful conviction is achieved. Resourcefulness and Resilience: The assessment strategy, and indeed the in-class preparation that precedes it, is designed to challenge and stretch student capabilities by introducing new skills and competencies. It is also one where students are experiencing the roles and perspectives of crime scene investigators and police investigators within a new but crucial context ¿ as evidence givers rather than evidence collectors. For the adversarial nature of the second assignment in particular, students will need to demonstrate, consolidate, and further develop the resilience and resourcefulness attributes previously acquired, and will need to show organisation, presentation of self, confident delivery of information, and be able to respond to challenge and questioning from others. As part of the teaching and learning strategy, and the peer feedback from the second assignment, students will be able to reflect on their performance, and be encouraged to share ideas and experiences both individually and collectively, appreciate potential barriers and challenges faced by others, and provide support and show empathy towards each other in working towards achieving successful outcomes and responding to problem-based task requirements. Digital Capabilities: Students will continue developing their digital capabilities through the use of SurreyLearn, where they will continue to navigate and utilise the VLE for multiple aspects of the module online provision. Students will also utilise Microsoft Teams as a means of communication and collaboration and engage with other online platforms and databases. In addition, both assessments will further engage students with the construction of digital documentation that mirrors the preparation of material for presentation in court. Sustainability: This module concerns itself, in considerable part, with the activities undertaken by criminal justice agencies (in particular, the police and the Crown Prosecution Service) and their employees, and the workings of criminal law. As such, through the learning, teaching and assessment activities, students will have the opportunity to critically reflect on issues aligned with aspects of Goal 16 of the Sustainable Goals of the United Nations, namely, to provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. Global and Cultural Capabilities: Aspects of the learning, teaching, and assessment strategy will require students to work collectively. This is intended to help foster a sense of community amongst the cohort from the start of the programme, and to allow students to work together, to reflect, and to share experiences with people from different backgrounds to solve problems and to address new, common challenges. In doing so, students will have the opportunity to broaden their own worldview, perspectives, and to challenge stereotypes, by actively engaging with a broader spectrum of ideas, experiences, and representations held by others, both through facilitated in-class discussions and elements of assessment.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Criminology with Forensic Investigation BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.