FORENSIC 703 : Statistics and Molecular Biology for Forensic Science


2023 Semester One (1233) (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 and is delivered in two parts.  

One part begins with the basics of the cell structure and the structure, and function of nucleic acids sufficient for students from all disciplines to successfully complete the course.  The identification of bodyfluids using traditional and molecular techniques will be explored. Students will then go on to learn about how DNA and RNA profiling are used in forensic science, including such topics as DNA methylation, mitochondrial DNA profiling, applications of massively parallel sequencing, DNA databases and forensic genetic genealogy. 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. Essential aspects of 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. 

There are 3 practical classes and one presentation workshop associated with the lectures and 3 related 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 an extra reading during the course. Appropriate texts are present in the Library and students should seek the advice of the Programme Director.

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 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
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 and 3)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of of the presentation of scientific data using probability and population data with respect to forensic science. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Evaluate forensic biology techniques and data collection and their effects on the community. (Capability 5 and 6)
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of of biological fluid testing and its role in forensic biology (Capability 1 and 2)
  5. Identify the role of research in developing forensic molecular biology techniques. (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  6. Prepare and present a short oral presentation developing communication skills (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  7. Demonstrate mastery of key forensic concepts of the chain of custody of evidence (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  8. Demonstrate laboratory skills and team work in carrying out and recording a forensic examination (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Laboratories 20% Group & Individual Coursework
Presentation 10% Individual Coursework
Assignments 10% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 60% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Final Exam


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

As part of the University-wide Tuākana community, The School of chemical sciences aims to provide a welcoming learning environment for and enhance the success of, all of our Māori and Pacific students. We are led by the principles of tautoko (support) and whanaungatanga (connection) and hope you find a home here at the School. Students who have identified as Māori and/or Pacific will receive an invitation to our online portal introducing the Programme, the resources we have available, and how you can get involved.

Tuākana Chemistry runs a range of activities for students enrolled in this class. This includes weekly workshops, social activities, and opportunities to engage with senior students and researchers within the School of Chemical Sciences. Tuākana-eligible students will be added automatically to the Tuākana Chemistry program when they enroll in this course. For more information, please see the Tuākana program website or email

Special Requirements

 Attendance at the laboratories is a compulsory part of this course. Students must be wearing safety glasses, covered footwear, and a lab coat before entering the laboratory and must keep these on until after exiting the laboratory. Jandals or other open shoes are not satisfactory footwear. Students who wear prescription spectacles are required to wear safety glasses over their spectacles. 

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, 12 hours of practical classes or workshops, 40 hours of reading and thinking about the content, and 40 hours of work on assignments and/or exam preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs and presentations to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including seminars  will be available as recordings.
The course may include ad hoc live online events including student led group discussions.
Attendance on campus is not 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.

An additional practical component has been added to this course as a result of student feedback.

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 31/10/2022 09:30 a.m.