Days 1 to 3 of the course aims to provide an understanding of the role of the firearms examiner in forensic firearms investigations and detail the underlying principles in the field of firearms identification and ballistics, including the effect of projectile ricochet on scene interpretation.
Days 4 and 5 of the course aims to provide an understanding of the role of the gunshot residue (GSR) analyst in forensic firearms investigations and detail the underlying chemical and physical principles relevant to forensic GSR analysis. In this course, students will expand their knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of firearms firing mechanisms, ammunition composition, production of gunshot residue (GSR) and the forensic chemical analysis of GSR.
- Associate firearms manufacturing processes with the principles of firearms identification.
- Differentiate between class and individual characteristics for firearms identification.
- Demonstrate an awareness of the construction of small arms ammunition.
- Describe and apply the fundamental principles underpinning the comparison of fired bullets and cartridge cases.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the scientific theory underpinning internal, intermediate, external and terminal ballistics.
- Evaluate changes in projectile mechanics on its trajectory.
- Consider the effect of projectile impact angle and target surface material properties on forensic investigation.
- Differentiate between different types of firearm (prohibited and non-prohibited)
- Demonstrate an understanding of the physical and chemical composition of various modern cartridge ammunition for a variety of firearm types
- Identify the appropriate ammunition for the type of firearm
- Consider how the design of a firearm and the composition of the ammunition may influence the distribution of gunshot residue
- Apply presumptive tests specific to aid in the identification of chemical gunshot residues potentially present on firearms evidence (clothing)
- Infer information about the chemical composition of ammunition by interpreting the results of presumptive tests on gunshot residue evidence
- Demonstrate an understanding of the scientific theory underpinning the unique identification of gunshot residue from inorganic primer composition and morphology
- Apply gunshot residue identification criteria and interpret energy dispersive x-ray (EDX) data obtained from the analysis of GSR swabs
- Consider the evidential value of GSR evidence in various scenarios.
In this course, students will expand their knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of firearms, firearm component manufacturing, forensic firearm identification, modern ammunition, ballistics and gunshot residue.
Subject matter will include:
- 1968 Firearms Act (amendment)
- Types of firearms
- Firearm components
- Barrel manufacturing processes
- Firearm operating systems
- Ammunition composition
- Firearms evidence collection
- Class characteristics for firearms identification
- Individual characteristics for firearms identification
- Introduction to internal ballistics
- Relationship between operating systems and firearm type to the examination and recovery of GSR
- Collection of potential GSR evidence
- Introduction to intermediate ballistics
- Introduction to external ballistics
- Introduction to terminal (and wound) ballistics
- Projectile ricochet
- Chemical testing of evidence for indicative presence of GSR
- Identification of inorganic GSR particles using SEM/EDX and INCA GSR Software
Day 1 - The first of four laboratory practicals will cover the collection of firearms evidence from a crime scene and the comparison of fired ammunition component(s).
Day 2 - Two further laboratory practicals to allow the students to experiment, interpret and critically evaluate the effect of physical mechanics by changing the projectile mass and angle of firearm inclination.
Day 3 - The final laboratory practical will allow students to design the experimental method and undertake an investigation into the effect of the target angle on projectile ricochet.
Day 4 - Will be delivered by staff at the National Firearms Centre at their site in Leeds. The material will be delivered in four workshops covering handguns (pistol, revolver and SMG), shotgun, rifle, reactivated and converted weapons. A live firing demonstration will be undertaken for the weapons examined and samples collected for analysis at the university on Day 2 in Stoke.
Day 5 – Practicals will focus on the chemical analysis and interpretation of GSR evidence. This will be achieved using wet chemical techniques (modified Griess test, DTO and sodium rhodizonate) to indicate the presence and distribution of GSR on clothing. In addition swabs taken during live firing demonstrations will be analysed for their chemical composition and characterisation using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive x-ray (EDX) analysis. Where possible this will be achieved using INCA GSR Software.
Lectures (9 hours)
Analytical workshop (3 hours)
Practical workshops (5 hours)
Laboratory practicals (16 hours)
NFC - armoury, firearms, ammunition, indoor firing range.
Stoke - Standard seminar room, chemistry laboratory, criminalistics laboratory, gun room and SEM/EDX laboratory.
Special Admission Requirements
GCSE Mathematics (Grade C and above)
GCSE Science (Grade C and above)