Advanced Criminalistics
PHA 6935 Advanced Criminalistics


This is a 3-credit course.


This course is designed to provide an in-depth knowledge of the following eight evidence categories: glass, textile fibers, paint, fire debris, explosives, firearm discharge residues, illicit drugs, and paper, inks and toners. Each standalone module introduces the evidence type and its forensic significance, details the relevant distinguishing and discriminating characteristics for the trace material in question, presents the analytical techniques commonly applied in the criminalistics laboratory, and discusses data interpretation and evidential value. The course is unique in terms of its coverage of these trace evidence categories from an operational forensic science perspective.

This course is taught by Western Sydney University as part of a collaborative venture between the University of Florida and Western Sydney University, Australia.


Please review our recommended course order.


Module topic
Module 1 Glass
Module 2 Textile Fibers
Module 3 Paint
Module 4 Fire Debris Analysis
Module 5 Explosives
Module 6 Firearm Discharge Residues
Module 7 Illicit Drugs
Module 8 Paper, Inks and Toners

At the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe each evidence category in terms of general characteristics and how the material may be encountered in a criminal investigation
  • Appreciate the variations in physical and chemical properties that can be used to characterise samples from each evidence category
  • Recognise the importance of transfer and persistence phenomena for each trace evidence type
  • Understand the range of analytical techniques that can be applied within the criminalistics laboratory and the information generated by each technique
  • Describe recommended evidence collection methods and analytical sequences appropriate for each evidence category
  • Understand the difficulties associated with the interpretation of analytical results for each evidence type and recognise the factors that can impact on relative evidential value.

Required Materials

No required materials

Library Access

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