Most Difficult Forensic Science Classes
- Criminalistics: Trace and Impression Evidence
- Forensic Molecular Biology
- Chromatography and Electrochemistry
- Drug Chemistry and Toxicology
- Historic Forensic Identification
Before beginning your journey towards a career as a forensic scientist, you should know that about the five most difficult classes you'll take when working toward your forensic science degree. The field has had the unfortunate fate of being considered a pseudoscience by some in the media, so it's important that you understand that although these courses are difficult, they are necessary in order for you to become an ethical and valuable forensic scientist.
1. Criminalistics: Trace and Impression Evidence
This is one of the most difficult courses you'll take when working on your forensic science degree because it focuses on an objective and rigorous science approach to investigation, meaning that subjective reasoning and analysis is absent. The course is designed to prepare future forensic scientists in the process of providing trace evidence analysis as well as teaching them the principles of criminalistics, practical application of forensic microscopy, and the accurate evaluation and comparison methods of impression evidence. In most schools, this course is divided up between lectures and labs, allowing students to learn and then apply analysis methods within the same course.
2. Forensic Molecular Biology
Forensic Molecular Biology is a science-based course that focuses on forensic DNA and analysis protocols. The course is one of the most difficult in the forensic degree program because it requires a thorough knowledge of how DNA works, how to screen for biological evidence for attribution at a crime scene, the various methods used to analyze DNA, and the method in which forensic DNA testimony is delivered for depositions for a trial. The course regularly requires labs, lectures, and exams; a training binder, which is the compilation of a student's work in labs, is also required to successfully complete the course.
3. Chromatography and Electrochemistry
Chromatography and Electrochemistry is an instrument analysis lab and lecture course. It is considered one of the most difficult courses because most schools require not only weekly lab attendance but grade the notebooks used during labs in order to compile the student's final grade. Not only do notebooks count for the grades, lectures in this course are often filled with algebra and calculus problems that students must solve prior to the next lecture. The course covers instrument analysis prior to an experiment, research methods to conduct ethical experiments, and how a student can measure the trustworthiness of the information a lab result gives them.
4. Drug Chemistry and Toxicology
Students who struggle with chemistry and toxicology will find this course to be one of the most difficult during the forensic science degree program. This is a mostly lecture-based course with specific lab days that emphasizes pharmacodynamics and analysis, two major areas of concern for the forensic scientist. The course requires a strong knowledge of toxicology and analysis methods for toxicology reports and covers everything from routes of exposure to gas chromatography. Students find this course challenging because it is a comprehensive primer on drug chemistry and toxicology; the information gleaned from this course is a heavy course load and requires several hours of reading alone each week during the semester.
5. Historic Forensic Identification
Historic Forensic Identification is a course that is delivered by schools at the graduate level for forensic science. The emphasis for this course is the intersection of identification through archaeology, anthropology, and molecular biology. By utilizing case studies from these three disciplines, students will learn how to use the methods taught through the course in modern forensic science. Because this is a multidisciplinary course, students will find it challenging to keep in mind all three techniques while preparing for exams and the project that most often concludes the course.
Taking the time to earn a degree is an accomplishment because it requires sacrifice and hard work in order to achieve the goal. When it comes to a degree in forensics, this goes double because most of the courses require a passion for the subject. Understanding which are the five most difficult classes you'll take when working toward your forensic science degree is the first step in tackling the degree, making the rest of your college life that much easier.
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