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School of Chemical Sciences

Forensic Science

Forensic science covers a broad range, from the statistical evaluation of glass evidence to the development of new molecules to aid in the visualisation of fingerprint residues.

Some past and possible future research areas are:

  • Field Science - the use of luminol, interpretation of shoeprint evidence, evaluation of digital technologies, bloodstain pattern interpretation
  • Physical Evidence - toolmarks in bone and the effects of the environment, firearm marks on cartridge cases, environmental insult of fibres, comparison of fuels
  • Forensic Biology - identification of body fluids, determination of time since injury or time since death, advanced DNA techniques.
  • Illicit Drugs - persistence of drugs on NZ banknotes, efficiencies of methamphetamine manufacture
  • Environmental Forensic Science - remediation of clandestine drug laboratories

As our knowledge and technical expertise in science increases, so does the complexity and importance of the science presented to the courts in the legal system. The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) is the supplier of forensic science to the New Zealand Police. Together with The University of Auckland in 1996 they jointly introduced a set of postgraduate qualifications in forensic science:

  • Certificate of Proficiency
    The Certificate of Proficiency provides a unique qualification in forensic science for graduates and professionals. Involved disciplines include lawyers, justice persons, the police, scientists, health and medical professionals and journalists. The certificate is at graduate level, so is best suited to people who already hold a university qualification. If you are considering enrolling in a course as a COP you are advised to first seek advice. Or for further information about the COP, see Certificate of Proficiency .      
  • Postgraduate Diploma  Forensic Science
    The Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Science qualification (one year taught programme) normally requires candidates to have completed degrees in science, medicine, technology or related topics. A candidate’s professional experience is also taken into account in the selection process.
    Requirements: 105 points from FORENSIC 701-704, 706, 707 and 15 points from an approved 700 level course.
  • Master of Science Forensic Science
    The one year research MSc is available to students who complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Science with an average of B- or better, with the approval of the Director of the Programme. A written thesis based on a research project is part of this qualification.
  • A PhD in Forensic Science 
    The normal requirement for admission to the PhD is an Honours degree with second class honours division 1 or better, either MSc, BSc(Hons), or BTech. Candidates with overseas qualifications should consult the school for advice and assessment of their qualifications. Candidates may be required to enrol in one or more courses concurrent with research work to complement either their research work or their background in the subject.
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