Roles in Forensic Science: The Sociological Perspective


This course serves as an introduction to the relationships between attorneys, scientific experts, and law enforcement from the time of the initial investigation to the courtroom. The student will be exposed to the various types of forensic experts and the differences between civil and criminal trial preparations. This course will offer insight to how the multiple players in science and law work together for a common goal.

Cost: $125.00. This course takes 16 hours to complete, on average. (AVAILABLE SPRING 2015)


Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to: 

  • Describe different investigative regions and investigator roles.
  • Define the basics of ethnomethodology and how it relates to forensic investigations.
  • Describe the relationship between science, law, and law enforcement.
  • Describe the differences between forensic experts.
  • Define the Rules of Evidence.
  • Describe the differences between criminal and civil cases.

Course Structure and Schedule

This is a non-credit course offering 3.58 ILUs. (What is ILU?) Average completion time for the course is 16 hours. The course cost is $125.00 per registration. A certificate of completion will be issued to students successfully meeting course requirements.  (AVAILABLE SPRING 2015)

Table of Contents:

Unit 1: Investigative Regions

Unit 2: Investigator Roles and Informational Control

Unit 3: Team Formation and Organization

Unit 4: Ethnomethodology and Forensic Investigations

Unit 5: Professional Vision

Unit 6: Jurisdictions of Knowledge

Unit 7: Divisions of Labor

Unit 8: Relations between the Institutions of Science and Law

Unit 9: Forensic Experts and the Rules of Evidence

Unit 10: Mistakes at Work and the Pecking Order of Forensic Investigations

Unit 11: Historic Roles and Moral Dilemmas

Unit 12: Preparing Cases: Criminal vs. Civil


There are no prerequisites for this class. A printable version of the course content is available in PDF format in the course library for future reference. Course readings are also available in PDF format.

Computer Requirements

  • Mozilla Firefox (recommended) or Internet Explorer
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • QuickTime
  • Macromedia Flash Player
  • Java

(Free software plug-ins are available in the Getting Started area of the course.)

Basic computer skills required (i.e. turning on your computer, navigating to websites, etc.). The course is user-friendly but support is available if needed.

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Instructor Information

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