This module will develop masters-level scientific skills for forensic practitioners to effectively investigate scenes of decomposition in death investigation practice. It will provide scientific interpretation of a range of taphonomic factors which importantly influence the estimation of the post-mortem interval. Scene assessment and recording methodologies of taphonomic states will be explored in detail with case studies, along with the challenges and limitations faced in the post-mortem examination of decomposing remains.

At a glance

  • Dates
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  • Duration5 days
  • LocationCranfield campus

Course structure

Lectures, Group Work, Practical (Fieldwork), Blended learning

What you will learn

On successful completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • Classify the stages of decomposition and hypothesise post-mortem intervals from case studies
  • Assess the effect of a range of taphonomic variables (intrinsic and extrinsic) on both the presentation and trajectory of the decay process.
  • Critically appraise historical and current research methodologies in forensic taphonomy
  • Relate practitioner experience of investigating decomposition scenes to further inform and challenge policies, practices and decision-making in the field.
  • Investigate and solve a simulated single-context decomposition body recovery scene.

Core content

  • Science of decomposition
  • Taphonomic variables
  • Research methodologies in forensic taphonomy
  • Risk assessment, welfare and body recovery plans
  • Scene assessment and recording methods of decomposition
  • Methods of estimating the post-mortem interval
  • Post-mortem examinations of decomposing remains
  • Case studies in forensic taphonomy

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