Forensic science is an especially intriguing area of study with many subtopics, including general issues, ethical issues, current and emerging issues, and Brexit. As a result, both undergraduates and postgraduates find forensic science to be a particularly favourable area of study to complete their dissertation in to obtain the highest possible grade and thus further both their academic and career aspirations.
In the event that you would like to write a dissertation in the area of forensic science, then it is clearly absolutely vital to select a title that allows for a depth of analysis of the literature that is already available and is befitting of undergraduate or postgraduate study. Therefore, the sections that are set out below will also highlight many of the most significant issues and debates that can currently be found in the area of forensic science.
Forensic science is the application of the scientific techniques of information collection, experimentation, and observation to determine how historical events occurred, with the aim of providing impartial evidence that can be used in a court of law. The term forensic is derived from the Latin word forensic which referred to public meeting places termed a forum, where citizens would meet and debate criminal issues. Defendants would use these forums to present testimony of their innocence before a judge. It is this process whereby the term forensics has come to mean the acquisition of legal evidence that can be presented in a court. It is also for this reason that forensic evidence is expected to follow rigorous scientific and empirical methods of verification and falsification and to be consequently trustworthy. Below is a selection of general forensic science dissertation topics:
- An assessment of the reliability of evidence relating to superficial heat damage on arsonists’ clothing.
- Assess the capacity for forensic dentistry together with legal ethics to solve crimes.
- Examine the efficacy of studying aging injuries and injury age estimation using gene expression methods.
- Consideration of the amalgamation of England’s police forces: Is there consistency in forensic services across the country?
- A comparison of the two illicit tablet recognition systems being used in the UK of Pill-ID which focuses on colour, and the other which focuses on shape and pattern recognition. Also assess the utility in combining the two approaches.
- Assess the consistency of different police forces in the United Kingdom in the forensic techniques being applied, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of amalgamation of force forensic departments.
- Assessment of using environmental pollen analysis to identify counterfeit cigarettes.
- Assess the effectiveness of recovering DNA from handwritten documents through the use of the dry vacuuming technique.
- Investigate the potential of keystroke biometrics as a forensic tool of user profiling.
- The effects of microwave radiation on the digestion of proteins in body fluid identification.
Professions such as forensic science differ from trade-based forms of work in that they are generally governed by a self-imposed ethical code of conduct, which all practitioners must adhere to. Below are some examples of ethics related dissertation topics:
- Dry-labbing or the claim that laboratory analysis has been conducted when it has not, has become an issue in a number of high-profile cases in recent years. How should the problem of dry-labbing be addressed by forensic scientists?
- What impact is the increasing use of private forensic consultants, who may not be subject to the usual disciplinary codes, having on forensic science?
- Investigate the claim that outsourcing of forensic science work to private contractors in the UK has led to declining standards.
- To what extent is the use of results from genetic research to put ethnic and racial labels on the samples encountered at a crime scene an ethical problem for forensic science?
- What ethical problems currently exist with the collection, storage, access to, retention and sharing of DNA samples?
Current and Emerging Issues
Advances in technology and society’s growing dependence on technology is changing the ways in which crimes are committed as well as investigated. The world currently stands on the threshold of a range of emerging technologies that will provide new opportunities for criminality and simultaneous challenges for law enforcement. The most notable example at present is the threat posed by cybercrime. However other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and blockchain are some examples of radically new areas that will bring radical change. Some dissertation topics in this area are presented below:
- How prepared is the field of forensic science for developments in technology and by extension technology enabled crime?
- How advanced is forensic science in dealing with crime committed on the dark web?
- What are the advantages of blockchain technology in assisting digital forensics?
- Analyse the commonly used methods in forensic cryptocurrency investigations in light of internationally accepted legal standards.
- Assess the effectiveness of forensic science in analysing the way cryptocurrency payment flows are used in a wide spectrum of criminal activity.
- Contamination: evaluate the efficacy of USB devices and remote monitoring software in the management of sex offenders’ computer use.
- What are the potential forensic challenges to the Internet of Things (IoT) and its enhanced potential for cybercrime?
- Examine the emerging field of IoT forensics.
- What specific uses does Deep Learning, which is a sub-set of Artificial Intelligence, have for cyber-forensics?
Brexit has and is having a decisive impact on many areas of the British economy and society. Britain has benefited from the evolutionary changes to police and judicial cooperation in the EU. These have included being part of Europol, Eurojust, the EU’s arrest warrant and forensic data sharing. These benefits have also applied to the area of forensic science particularly in terms of participation in scientific funding and collaboration of the EU’s research programs. However, Brexit is arguably occurring at the worst of all possible moments as the coronavirus global pandemic has placed significant burdens on the resources of the criminal justice system at a time when it is already suffering from government underfunding. A key question therefore is how the UK’s criminal justice system generally and forensic science in particular manage now that the UK is no longer a member of the EU. Here are a few dissertation topics that arise from the current Brexit situation.
- To what extent is Brexit likely to damage the future sustainability of UK forensic science?
- Investigate the impact of Brexit on forensic data sharing with the European Union.
- How will Brexit impact other developments that are already re-shaping UK forensic science capabilities and capacities such as digital and cyber forensic technologies and the use of Artificial Intelligence in forensic settings?
- Assess the impact of the UK’s exclusion from European research programs on the global influence of UK forensic science and technology institutions.
- Does Brexit pose any strategic opportunities to strengthen UK forensic science by broadening its professional, institutional, and economic base in areas such as public health and regulatory science?
- Evaluate the viability of a shared European ballistics database in consideration of UK policing and criminal justice opt-outs.