This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2020-21 VCU Bulletin. This edition includes all programs and courses approved by the publication deadline; however we may receive notification of additional program approvals after the launch. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

The physical evidence concentration requires an additional 24 credits in chemistry, forensic science and elective credits beyond the core requirements and is well-suited for students interested in graduate study or careers in latent fingerprint examination and the analysis of impression evidence, as well as firearm and toolmark analyses. Students also will be prepared for work in private analytical laboratories. Students completing the forensic chemistry concentration will be eligible for a minor in chemistry.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the laws of criminal procedure and rules of evidence
  • Demonstrate proper crime scene investigation and reconstruction
  • Demonstrate ethical and professional duties and responsibilities of the forensic scientist
  • Be able to apply basic principles and laboratory procedures of physics and chemistry to forensic science
  • Demonstrate capabilities, use and limitations of forensic laboratory techniques
 

Special requirements

The forensic science program requires a minimum of 120 credits including completion of the College of Humanities and Sciences general education requirements, 49-51 forensic science core program credits and 24 concentration-specific credits.

For the physical evidence concentration, a minimum of four elective credit hours of advanced biology, chemistry and/or forensic science course work (300- to 500-level) must be taken. FRSC 202 is not applicable for the major.

Degree requirements for Forensic Science, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) with a physical evidence concentration

General education requirements

CourseTitleHours
University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV 111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry I [View Image]
Focused Inquiry I3
UNIV 112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry II [View Image]
Focused Inquiry II3
UNIV 200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument3
Approved humanities/fine arts3
Approved natural/physical sciences3-4
Approved quantitative literacy3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences3-4
Total Hours21-24
CourseTitleHours
Additional College of Humanities and Sciences requirements (11-23 credits)
HUMS 202Choices in a Consumer Society1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities3
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)
Approved H&S general education electives6-8
Experiential fine arts 11-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement)0-8
Total Hours11-23
1

Course offered by the School of the Arts

Collateral requirements

CourseTitleHours
Required courses3 - 10
Calculus with Analytic Geometry I (fulfills University Core quantitative literacy)
Introduction to Ethics (fulfills H&S literature and civilization)
Basic Practice of Statistics
Total Hours3-10

Major requirements

Students must receive a minimum grade of C in all of the following courses. If a course is a prerequisite for another course, a minimum grade of C must be obtained in the prerequisite course before proceeding to the subsequent course.

CourseTitleHours
BIOL 151
BIOZ 151
Introduction to Biological Sciences I
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I
4
BIOL 152
BIOZ 152
Introduction to Biological Sciences II
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory II
4
CHEM 101
CHEZ 101
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
4
CHEM 102
CHEZ 102
General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
4
CHEM 301
CHEZ 301
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory I
5
CHEM 302
CHEZ 302
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory II
5
CHEM 309
CHEZ 309
Quantitative Analysis
and Quantitative Analysis Laboratory
5
CHEM 320Inorganic Chemistry I3
FRSC 300Survey of Forensic Science3
FRSC 309Scientific Crime Scene Investigation3
FRSC 365Forensic Microscopy3
FRSC 375Forensic Evidence, Law and Criminal Procedure3
FRSC 385Forensic Serology3
FRSC 410Forensic Pattern Evidence3
FRSC 412Forensic Analysis of Firearms and Toolmarks3
FRSC 490Professional Practices in Forensic Science3
FRSC 566Advanced Crime Scene Investigation3
PHYS 201General Physics I4-5
or PHYS 207 University Physics I
PHYS 202General Physics II4-5
or PHYS 208 University Physics II
Total Hours69-71

Concentration electives

Students must receive a minimum grade of C in all of their concentration electives. If a course is a prerequisite for another course, a minimum grade of C must be obtained in the prerequisite course before proceeding to the subsequent course.

CourseTitleHours
Select four credits of 300- to 500-level courses from BIOL/BIOZ, CHEM/CHEZ or the FRSC/FRSZ courses listed below:4
Forensic Anthropology
Forensic Medicine
Forensic Chemistry
Forensic Molecular Biology
Forensic Molecular Biology Laboratory
Forensic Toxicology and Drugs
Forensic Entomology
Developmental Osteology
Forensic Anthropology Applications
Total Hours4

Open electives

CourseTitleHours
Select zero to 12 credits0-12
Total Hours0-12

The minimum total of credit hours required for this degree is 120.

What follows is a sample plan that meets the prescribed requirements within a four-year course of study at VCU. Please contact your adviser before beginning course work toward a degree.

Note: This plan of study assumes that the student:

  • Scored well enough on the VCU Mathematics Placement Test to place into MATH 200 or that student has completed MATH 151 with a minimum grade of C (a pre- or corequisite for BIOL 151BIOZ 151 and CHEM 101​; a prerequisite for CHEM 102).
  • Scored well enough on the chemistry placement exam/assessment or has successfully completed CHEM 100 with a minimum grade of B (a prerequisite for CHEM 101).
Freshman year
Fall semesterHours
BIOL 151
BIOZ 151
Introduction to Biological Sciences I 1
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I 1
4
CHEM 101
CHEZ 101
General Chemistry I 1
and General Chemistry Laboratory I 1
4
UNIV 111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry I [View Image]
Focused Inquiry I 13
Approved H&S science and technology3-4
Experiential fine arts1-3
 Term Hours: 15-18
Spring semester
BIOL 152
BIOZ 152
Introduction to Biological Sciences II
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory II
4
CHEM 102
CHEZ 102
General Chemistry II 1
and General Chemistry Laboratory II 1
4
HUMS 202Choices in a Consumer Society1
MATH 200Calculus with Analytic Geometry I4
UNIV 112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry II [View Image]
Focused Inquiry II 13
 Term Hours: 16
Sophomore year
Fall semester
CHEM 301
CHEZ 301
Organic Chemistry 1
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory I 1
5
CHEM 309
CHEZ 309
Quantitative Analysis
and Quantitative Analysis Laboratory
5
STAT 210Basic Practice of Statistics3
UNIV 200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 13
 Term Hours: 16
Spring semester
CHEM 302
CHEZ 302
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory II
5
FRSC 300Survey of Forensic Science3
FRSC 375Forensic Evidence, Law and Criminal Procedure3
PHIL 201Introduction to Ethics3
 Term Hours: 14
Junior year
Fall semester
FRSC 309Scientific Crime Scene Investigation3
FRSC 365Forensic Microscopy3
PHYS 201
General Physics I
or University Physics I
4-5
Foreign language (101-level) or open elective4
 Term Hours: 14-15
Spring semester
FRSC 385Forensic Serology3
FRSC 412Forensic Analysis of Firearms and Toolmarks3
PHYS 202
General Physics II
or University Physics II
4-5
Foreign language (102-level) or open elective4
 Term Hours: 14-15
Senior year
Fall semester
CHEM 320Inorganic Chemistry I3
FRSC 410Forensic Pattern Evidence3
FRSC 490Professional Practices in Forensic Science3
Approved H&S general education electives6-8
 Term Hours: 15-17
Spring semester
FRSC 566Advanced Crime Scene Investigation3
BIOL/BIOZ, CHEM/CHEZ or FRSC/FRSZ (300- to 500-level)4
Approved H&S diverse and global communities3
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior3-4
Open elective3
 Term Hours: 16-17
 Total Hours: 120-128
1

There is little, if any, flexibility regarding when to take these courses in order to enroll in FRSC 300 during spring semester of sophomore year.

The minimum total of credit hours required for this degree is 120.

 

FRSC 202. Crime and Science. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Introduces the scientific theory, concepts and practices used in any physical science by relating them to the analysis of physical evidence performed in forensic laboratories and the fundamentals of crime scene investigation, and their relationship to the criminal justice system and criminal investigations. Not applicable for credit toward B.S. in Forensic Science.

FRSC 291. Topics in Forensic Science. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1-3 lecture hours. 1-3 credits. May be repeated with different topics for a maximum of six credits. A study of selected topics in forensic science. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester and prerequisites.

FRSC 300. Survey of Forensic Science. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: BIOL 151, BIOZ 151, CHEM 102, CHEZ 102 and UNIV 112, each with a minimum grade of C. Pre- or corequisites: CHEM 301 and CHEZ 301, and UNIV 200 or HONR 200. Enrollment is restricted to forensic science majors or by permission of instructor. Introduces the theory, concepts and practices used in the analysis of physical evidence performed in crime laboratories, and the fundamentals of crime scene investigation. Also introduces ethical and quality assurance issues of crucial importance in modern crime laboratories.

FRSC 309. Scientific Crime Scene Investigation. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 301 and FRSC 300, each with a minimum grade of C. Enrollment is restricted to forensic science majors or by permission of the instructor. Provides scientific theory of crime scene investigation and crime scene reconstruction and basic knowledge of proper crime scene protocol and evidence processing techniques. Includes the processes for documentation, collecting and preserving physical evidence.

FRSC 310. Forensic Anthropology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: ANTH 210 or FRSC 300 with a minimum grade of C. A comprehensive overview of forensic anthropology including its development and the theory and methodology on which it is based. Crosslisted as: ANTH 310.

FRSC 325. Forensic Medicine. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: FRSC 300, CHEM 301 and CHEZ 301, each with a minimum grade of C. Enrollment restricted to forensic science majors or by permission of instructor. An investigation of topics in death scene investigations as well as autopsy findings associated with natural and unnatural deaths.

FRSC 351. Forensic Science Service-learning. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. May be repeated for a maximum of 4 credits. Prerequisites: FRSC 300 and at least one additional FRSC/Z course, each with a minimum grade of C. Enrollment restricted to forensic science majors or by permission of instructor. Provides an opportunity to learn about the community’s schools and how to teach forensic science concepts to school-aged students. Each week, VCU students will provide hands-on lab activities in community-based programs to reinforce lessons learned through their school curricula. Reflective writing, partner assignments and a final presentation are required, in addition to 20 community partner hours. VCU students will improve their ability to explain forensic concepts to those with differing scientific backgrounds, have increased confidence when addressing audiences and deepen their understanding of civic responsibility.

FRSC 365. Forensic Microscopy. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 301 and FRSC 300, each with a minimum grade of C. An in-depth course in the theory and practical application of microscopy to the examination, identification and individualization of physical evidence submitted to forensic laboratories.

FRSC 375. Forensic Evidence, Law and Criminal Procedure. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Pre- or co-requisites: FRSC 300 or FRSC 350. Open only to forensic science majors or by permission of instructor. The law of criminal procedure and rules of evidence as applied to forensic science. Topics will include scientific versus legal burdens of proof, legal terminology and trial procedure.

FRSC 385. Forensic Serology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 301 and either FRSC 300 or FRSC 350, each with a minimum grade of C. Examines the application of basic chemical, biological, immunological and microscopic laboratory techniques to the examination and identification of body-fluid stains, including both presumptive and/or confirmatory identification of blood, semen, saliva, urine and feces. Applies methods that are used in forensic laboratories to identify the species of origin and includes a review of advanced methods for automated serological analysis. Laboratory exercises will supplement lectures to give students practical knowledge of the laboratory procedures.

FRSC 391. Topics in Forensic Science. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1-3 lecture hours. 1-3 credits. Maximum total of 6 credits for all forensic science topics courses may be applied to the major. Prerequisites: CHEM 301 and either FRSC 300 or FRSC 350, each with a minimum grade of C. A study in selected topics in forensic science. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester and additional prerequisites.

FRSC 400. Forensic Chemistry. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 4 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 409 and CHEZ 409, each with a minimum grade of C. Examines core principles and instrumentation used in forensic chemistry applications to include microchemical tests, gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, spectroscopy and mass spectrometry, with emphasis on forensic casework. These topics may include accelerants, explosives, paints, polymers and drug analysis. Students will gain experience in experimental design, operation and troubleshooting of instrumentation, as well as the analysis and interpretation of chromatographic and spectroscopic data sets.

FRSC 410. Forensic Pattern Evidence. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: FRSC 309 with a minimum grade of C. Enrollment is restricted to forensic science majors or by permission of the instructor. Covers topics in pattern evidence analysis including analysis of latent prints and impression evidence of footwear and tire treadmarks as applied to forensic casework. Covers both the theoretical and practical aspects using lectures and laboratory exercises focusing on the visualization, examination and interpretation of pattern evidence.

FRSC 412. Forensic Analysis of Firearms and Toolmarks. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: FRSC 365 with a minimum grade of C. Enrollment is restricted to forensic science majors or by permission of the instructor. An investigation of topics in firearms and toolmark examination for forensic applications. Covers both theoretical and practical aspects using lectures and laboratory exercises.

FRSC 438. Forensic Molecular Biology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: BIOL 310 with a minimum grade of C. Provides an understanding of molecular biology testing methodologies as applied to analysis of forensic samples. Current topics in forensic DNA analysis will include quality assurance, DNA databanking, contemporary research and population genetics. Crosslisted as: BIOL 438.

FRSC 445. Forensic Toxicology and Drugs. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 4 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 409 and CHEZ 409, each with a minimum grade of C. Provides a comprehensive overview of the basic principles of drug analysis and forensic toxicology. Students will perform hands-on lab exercises in these areas. Students will learn to identify the controlled substances and toxic agents most commonly abused and/or encountered in criminal investigations, including issues of interpretation and impairment.

FRSC 490. Professional Practices in Forensic Science. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 301; FRSC 300 or FRSC 350; and one additional forensic science course, each with a minimum grade of C. Enrollment restricted to seniors in forensic science with at least 85 credit hours toward the degree. An examination and evaluation of historical and current issues in the scientific analysis of physical evidence in criminal investigations. Individual and group activities relating to professional practices (ethics, quality control and testimony) of forensic scientists.

FRSC 492. Forensic Science Independent Study. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1-3 independent study hours. 1-3 credits. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 301; and FRSC 300 or FRSC 350, each with a minimum grade of C. Enrollment restricted to forensic science majors with at least sophomore standing and a minimum GPA of 2.5. A determination of the amount of credit and the written permission of both the instructor and the program director must be procured prior to registration for the course.

FRSC 493. Forensic Science Internship. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1-3 field experience hours. 1-3 credits. Prerequisite: FRSC 300 with a minimum grade of C. Enrollment is restricted to forensic science majors with a minimum GPA of 2.75. An application is required in advance of admission with permission of the internship coordinator. Through placement in an approved organization, the student will obtain a broader, more practical knowledge of forensic science and its applications. Written progress and final reports are required. Graded as pass/fail.