Prince George’s Community College

Spring Semester 2005

FOS 101 7645

Introduction to Forensic Science

Class Meetings: MWF 9:00 – 9:50 am; Room TBA Largo Campus


Instructor: Prof. Ray Harris

Office: Bladen Room 208G

Office Phone: 301-386-7553             Fax: 301-583-5280

Department Phone (CFLS): 301.322.0697


Office Hours:  MWF 10:15 – 11:150; T and R 0800 – 0900;



An introduction to the scientific discipline directed at the recognition, identification, and evaluation of physical evidence through application of the natural sciences to criminal investigation. Emphasis is placed on the role of the forensic scientist.


PREREQUISITES: Reading proficiency level.


COURSE OUTCOMES:  Upon successful completion of this course, a student will be able to :


1.      Discuss the scope of forensic science and the capabilities and limitations of the crime laboratory.

2.      Describe the proper documentation and processing of a crime scene.

3.      Describe the correct handling and packaging of physical evidence.

4.      Identify and compare class and individual characteristics of various forms of physical evidence.

5.      Identify, define and explain major concepts within the areas of trace evidence, drugs and forensic toxicology, fire and explosives, forensic serology, bloodstain interpretation, DNA, fingerprints, firearms, tool marks and other impression evidence, questioned document and voice examination, and internet and computer crimes.

6.      Describe legal issues within forensic science and the procedures for testifying in court as an expert witness.



Forensic Science: An Introduction to Scientific and Investigative Techniques, Ed. by Stuart H. James and Jon J. Nordby, CRC Press, 2002; ISBN: 0-8493-1246-9



Final grades will be based on the following:




5 Tests (120 marks each)


9 Homework assignments (25 marks each)


Oral Presentation







Total Marks










Below 600




This course consists of five (5) tests. These tests are not cumulative. The format of these tests are multiple choice, true and false, fill-ins and short answer. Each test may contain 48 to 60 questions.   Note! Please see last page of syllabus for chapters covered by each test.


All tests will be taken in the classroom. To be eligible for a make-up test you must:

  1. Inform me of your absence prior to the end of the test, via phone, voicemail, or email

2.   Provide me with official documentation regarding your absence (i.e.: doctor’s note, court summons, employer note, etc.)



Discussion and lecture will teach basic scientific principles and techniques, which will help you to understand how crime scene evidence is analyzed in a forensic laboratory. Class discussion will be encouraged in the sharing of information for all concerned. You should keep abreast of current events/news regarding the class topics we will cover, and be prepared to discuss them. Audiovisual, video and computer aids, as well as guest speakers may be used to enhance your learning experience.


These will be discussed later in syllabus.



All completed assignments and tests will be returned to you. It is your responsibility to save all graded papers until you receive your final grade in this course. In case of a discrepancy, you must be able to show me the graded paper before I will correct any errors. Using the attached grade record sheet will help you keep track of your points for class.



Attendance (including late arrivals and early departures) will be recorded.

You are responsible for all material presented in class whether or not you attend.



Go to Prince George’s Community College’s Blackboard site at

Click on the button labeled Login

You will see a dialogue box that asks you to enter your username and password.

Your username will be: (first initial of first name) first 3 initials of last name) (your birth month expressed as two digits; if your birthday is in March, it would be entered as 03) (your birth date expressed as two digits; if your birth date is on the first of the months, it would be entered as 01) Use only lowercase to enter your username; use NO spaces.

Example: if your name is Jane Smith and your birthday is April 8, your username is jsmi0408. 

Your password will be: your full 9-digit Social Security Number (no spaces, no hyphens) Example: 123456789

If your login is successful, you will see the Blackboard “Welcome” screen.  In the box labeled “My Courses”, you will see the course or a list of courses in which you are enrolled.  Click on the course name to enter your Blackboard course.

Immediately change your password. To change your Blackboard password, follow these steps:

1.                  Log into Blackboard  using your given username and password

2.                  From YOUR Blackboard Welcome page (you will see WELCOME,___!  In bold letters at the top of this page), click on Personal Information in the Tools Box on the left side.

3.                  Click on Change Password.  Fill in the requested information.  You can change your password to any combination of numbers and letters.  Blackboard is extremely case-sensitive so use only lowercase letters.

4.                  Click the Submit button in the lower right corner.

5.                  IMPORTANT Write down your username and password information so you can refer to it if you forget.


Students requesting academic accommodations are required to contact the Disability Support Services Office (M-1042) or call 301.322.0838(voice) or 301.322.0122(TTY) to establish eligibility for services and accommodations.  Students with documented disabilities should discuss the matter privately with their instructors at the beginning of the semester and provide a copy of their Student/Faculty Accommodation Form.



The Prince George’s Community College Code of Conduct defines the rights and responsibilities of students and establishes a system of procedures for dealing with students charged with violations of the code and other rules and regulations of the college.  A student enrolling in the college assumes an obligation to conduct himself/herself in a manner compatible with the college’s function as an educational institution.  Refer to the 2004-2005 Student Handbook, beginning on page 39, for a complete explanation of the code of conduct, including the Cole of Academic Integrity and the procedure for dealing with disruptive student behavior.



The college is an institution of higher learning that holds academic integrity as its highest principle.  In the pursuit of knowledge, the college community expects that all students, faculty, and staff will share responsibility for adhering to the values of  honesty and unquestionable integrity.  To support a community committed to academic achievement and scholarship, the Code of Academic Integrity advances the principle of honest representation in the work that is produced by students seeking to engage fully in the learning process.  The complete ext of the Code of Academic Integrity is in the 2004-2005 Student Handbook (pages 41-43) and posted on the college’s website.


Academic dishonesty will NOT be tolerated. An act of cheating will result in a grade of zero being assigned to the work. Any repeated incident will result in a course grade of “F”. Cheating includes:



No visitors (including children) are allowed in class. Please silence all pagers, cell phones, alarms, and other electronic equipment during class.  Only fluids will be allowed during daytime classes.  If your class is in the evening Food and Drink will be allowed with minimal disruption to classmates or your professor.



  1. Come to every class on time and stay until the end.
  2. Read your textbook materials prior to class so that you are familiar with what we are discussing.
  3. Turn in all of your assignments on time. Turn them in late for lower points (fewer points are better than none at all!)
  4. View the PowerPoints, listen to the instructor, and take comprehensive notes. You may use a tape recorder in class.
  5. Schedule 2-3 hours per week to study for each class:
  6. Take responsibility for your own success:


The course material is cumulative in that comprehension of subjects later in the course hinges on your understanding of earlier, foundation concepts. If you need clarification on something you missed in class or on an exam, or you didn’t understand something during your studying, please ask me about it.



Last day to apply for Spring Graduation                                    Tuesday, February 15

Presidents’ Day – College Closed  - No Classes                       Monday, February 21

Change from “credit to audit or audit to credit”              Friday, March 4

Spring Break – College Closed – No Classes                           Mon.-Sun., March 21-27

Last Day to withdraw from full-semester classes                        Friday, April 22

Final Examination period/last week of classes                Tues.-Mon., May 10-16

Commencement, 7 PM                                                 Thursday, May 26


Student Assessment Services Center (Testing Center)

            Bladen Hall, Room 100                                    301.322.0090


            Check the website for hours and policies and procedures


Tutoring and Writing Centers (

            Bladen Hall, Room 107                                    301.322.0748 for appointment

If you have the feeling that something is missing from your studies, the Tutoring Center can help you put the pieces of the puzzle together with free one-on-one or group tutoring.  The Writing Center offers one-on-one tutoring for all students who are working on any writing assignment in any course.


Student Development Services                          301.322.0886


Student Development Services has various programs that provide students with mentoring, advising and individual counseling.  Call or check the website for more information.


Library (

            Accokeek Hall             General Information      301.322.0102

                                                Circulation                    301.322.0475

                                                Reference                     301.322.0476

The Learning Resource Division provides a range of library and media services.

Refer to the website for hours and more information about the services.


Campus Bookstore (

Largo Student Center, Room 116                                 301.322.0912