FORENSIC 703 : Statistics and Molecular Biology for Forensic Science


2022 Semester One (1223) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Statistics: data summarisation and reduction, laws of probability, conditional probability, likelihood ratios and Bayes theorem. Interpretation of statistical results. Forensic biology: basic principles of population genetics, genomic structure, conventional blood grouping. DNA profiling: structure, enzymology and basic chemistry of nucleic acids, PCR and microsatellites, interpretation of DNA profiles, developing forensic DNA technologies.

Course Overview

This course is centred on forensic biology. By the end of it students should have understood basic cell biology, the structure and function of nucleic acids, methods used in their analysis and the application of those methods to forensic science. Linked to the scientific information is its interpretation; students will study the laws of probability, conditional probability, likelihood ratios and Bayes Theorem. Population genetics will also be taught, and students will learn how to combine these topics in the interpretation of the various kinds of DNA and RNA profiling. Screening tests for body fluids will be covered and their role in an era of DNA analysis discussed.
There are 3 practical classes or workshops associated with the lectures; 3 assignments will be given. There will also be a statistics assignment.
Students without some background in molecular biology or population genetics may need to do extra reading during the course. Appropriate texts are present in the Library.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: Permission of Programme Director

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Develop a knowledge of molecular biology techniques developed as tools in forensic science. (Capability 1)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of of the presentation of scientific data using probability and population data with respect to forensic science. (Capability 2)
  3. Evaluate forensic biology techniques and data collection and their effects on the community. (Capability 6)
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of of biological fluid testing and its role in forensic biology (Capability 1)
  5. Identify the role of research in developing forensic molecular biology techniques. (Capability 3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 10% Individual Coursework
Presentation 10% Individual Coursework
Assignments 10% Individual Coursework
Assignments 10% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 60% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Final Exam

Special Requirements

Laboratory attendance requires the students to follow standard practice, including correct footwear, safety glasses and lab coats.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 22 hours of lectures, 4 hours of practical classes or workshops, 10 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 15 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience or Online

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including labs, workshops and lectures to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities will not be available as recordings.
The course will include a live online events of student presentations
Attendance on campus is required for the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

There is no recommended textbook, but individual lecturers may specify specific reading.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Comments made regarding lecture delivery during lockdown have been useful.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 01/12/2021 09:02 a.m.