Forensic Science

Interdisciplinary Forensic Science Minor

Why choose this minor?

The minor in forensic science is interdisciplinary in that it comprises courses from a wide variety of departments across campus. The selected courses each offer a perspective, foundation-level knowledge, or a specific focus area that is relevant to developing the honed analytic and critical thinking skills characteristic of practitioners of the different forensic science specializations.

FSC 211 and 212 embody multiple fields of specialization and provide students with the opportunity to explore which area of forensic science they have an affinity with so that a career path can be more clearly defined. 

Students choosing the forensic science minor find it advantageous as the elective courses prepare them well for further education and training in a graduate program or professional school, basic law enforcement training (BLET), or for an entry-level position in a job-setting pertinent to their selected major combined with the forensic science minor. Please also see information on UNCW's Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Forensic Science: Crime Scene Investigation, a professional preparatory program.

Requirements (21 credit hours)

The minor requires one three-credit hour core course plus 18 hours of electives where a minimum of three credit hours are needed in each of two areas: Natural Science and Social and Behavioral Science.

Please note that the list below is the most current; catalog information may differ slightly. Students enrolling in the courses below should contact the minor coordinator if the credit hours appear under general electives rather than the forensic science minor on the degree audit.

Core Course (required)

  • FSC 211 Fundamentals of Forensic Science*

Natural Science Electives (minimum 3 credit hours)

  • BIO and BIOL 240 Human Anatomy and Physiology I** 
  • BIO and BIOL 241 Human Anatomy and Physiology II
  • BIO and BIOL 335 Genetics^^
  • BIO and BIOL 465 Biochemistry
  • CHM and CHML 365 Biochemistry I
  • CHM 466 Biochemistry II
  • CHM and CHML 380 Forensic Chemistry^^
  • CHM 417 Medicinal Chemistry
  • FSC 212 Forensic Science Methods** ^

    *  University Studies: Understanding Human Institutions and Behaviors
    **University Studies: Scientific Approaches to the Natural World
    ^ University Studies:
    Explorations Beyond the Classroom
    ^^University Studies: Critical Reasoning

Social and Behavioral Science Electives (minimum 3 credit hours)

  • ANT 214 Forensic Anthropology*
  • ANT and ANTL 326 Human Osteology^^
  • CRM/SOC 255 Criminology*
  • CRM/SOC 256 Criminology*~
  • CRM 320 Criminal Courts
  • CRM 380 Criminal Law
  • CRM 381 Criminal Procedure
  • CRM 385 Law of Evidence
  • FSC 213 Forensic Skeletal Identification^^
  • INT 362 International Human Rights
  • INT 318 Transitional Justice
  • PAR 215 Bioethics~~
  • PSY 247 Abnormal Psychology
  • PSY 275 Forensic Psychology

    *   University Studies: Understanding Human Institutions and Behaviors
    ^^University Studies: Critical Reasoning
    ~  University Studies: Writing Intensive
    University Studies: Historical and Philosphical Approaches


New courses relevant to forensic science, and some 400-level courses such as directed independent study, seminars, or honors work, may also count toward the minor if relevant and approved and by the coordinator. Students must have at least a “C” average (2.00) in all courses counted for the minor. Some courses above have prerequisites and or co-requisites which do not count for the minor but may satisfy University Studies requirements or other major requirements.

Forensic Science Course Descriptions

For course descriptions of the additional electives above, please see the UNCW Undergraduate Course Catalog.

FSC 211 Fundamentals of Forensic Science (3) This lecture course offers students an understanding of the myriad disciplines that form the whole of forensic science—the application of social and behavioral science, as well as natural science, to cases of legal importance.  Specifically, the social science fields of anthropology, criminology, and psychology integrate with the natural science fields of biology and chemistry to inform the forensic sciences, which play a vital role in our society, as an institution, contributing to legislation, serving justice and maintaining homeland security. Topics in this course cover a broad spectrum of specialized areas, emphasizing the social sciences areas of (1) anthropology where the exhumation of human remains and skeletal identification is concerned, (2) criminology and jurisprudence, where the scientific study of crime and criminals and law and policy-making is the focus, and (3) behavioral science where the mindset of forensic examiners, victims, and perpetrators of homicide are explored. Students will learn scientific concepts and major research methodologies through lecture, multimedia, and required reading and apply these concepts in class discussions (e.g., oral communication) and on examinations (e.g., written communication). Partially satisfies University Studies II: Understanding Human Institutions and Behaviors.

FSC 212 Forensic Science Methods (3) This online methods course offers students an applied learning experience in the natural sciences through an understanding of the various techniques used in the forensic sciences to process crime scenes, crime scene evidence, and bodies of those who died suddenly or unexpectedly.  Students will complete online readings of realistic case-studies  and conduct independent laboratory experiments on myriad topics:  Processing evidence and crime scenes, fingerprinting, DNA amplification, blood spatter pattern analysis, fiber and hair analysis, impression evidence (i.e., shoes, tires, toolmarks), fractography and glass, autopsy protocol and time since death estimation, body identification, questioned documents (i.e., verification and authentication of signatures), arson, toxicology, and firearm analysis.  Completion of readings, experiments, written laboratory reports, and assessments (tests) compose the course grade.  This applied learning course introduces students to the breadth and depth of forensic science laboratory techniques and analyses. Partially satisfies University Studies II: Approaches and Perspectives/Scientific Approaches to the Natural World and Explorations Beyond the Classroom.

FSC 213 Forensic Skeletal Identification (3) This is an online course. Skeletal elements are a common form of evidentiary material having medicolegal significance within the forensic sciences. This course provides detailed instruction on the major bones and features of the human skeleton, including dentition. It covers methods and techniques of analysis to identify bones and bone fragments. Applied learning exercises foster discernment skills in recognizing human skeletal material apart from intact and fragmentary nonhuman bones and teeth.