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Presenting Evidence in Court: Courtroom Assessment Day

Samuel H ATobias14 July 2016

Sam here, checking in again. Classes have come to an end, and my MSc. colleagues and I are all working hard on our respective dissertation projects.

 

The Old Bailey. It's dome is topped by a bronze statue of Justice by sculptor F.W. Pomeroy. © UCL Media Services - University College London

The Old Bailey. Its dome is topped by a bronze statue of Justice by sculptor F.W. Pomeroy. © UCL Media Services – University College London

 

When I first considered a career in forensic science, I sought advice from a friend in the field. He informed me that the skill most often lacking in applications to forensic science jobs is experience in presenting evidence in a courtroom. Knowing that I had to develop that skill to be a competitive applicant, UCL’s MSc. in Crime and Forensic Science appealed to me greatly because it places a great focus on the relationship between the forensic scientist and the criminal justice system.

In the module “Practices of Crime Scene Investigation and Expert Testimony”, we were evaluated on our ability to present our findings from a mock crime scene to a jury. After the presentation of evidence-in-chief (initial explanation of findings, led by questioning by the prosecution), we were grilled by the defence barrister (former forensic science master’s student turned lawyer). We had received formal training from Bond Solon on presenting expert evidence, and this mock court was a way to put that to good use.

 

Bond Solon provided expert witness training for us

Bond Solon provided expert witness training for us

 

Although it was intimidating at times, and questions were sometimes posed to trip us up or to create doubt, taking a deep breath and clearly thinking about how to answer each question was the best way to proceed. The experience showed me how much preparation is involved in expert witness testimony, and how difficult it can be to break down technical knowledge into language that anyone (in this case, the lay jury) can understand. I found that the training we received, along with visits to the Old Bailey to observe a real courtroom, were extremely helpful.

The experience of presenting evidence in court myself as well as observing my classmates’ testimonies helped to solidify the content of this module and the course as a whole.

See my previous posts on the UCL Centre for Forensic Sciences Blog here:

My Master’s Dissertation

Forensic Osteology Module

Careers Event

MariaSchizas3 June 2016

There are a variety of career paths that you can pursue after completing one of the MSc courses in the Department of Security and Crime Science. However, choosing a career path becomes more complicated when you are unsure about what you actually want to do, or completely lost as to your future (which is mainly why I attended this careers event!).

http://www.integritystaff.com/files/2014/10/your-caree.jpg

http://www.integritystaff.com/files/2014/10/your-caree.jpg

This career’s event aimed to firstly provide an opportunity to network with former students. Secondly the event enabled us to get insight into the experiences of the alumni since completing their degree and get guidance from their experience in pursuing their chosen careers, as well as picking up some essential tips. Thirdly, it opened up our minds to considering careers we had not thought of before.

The event resembled ‘speed dating’, so we each got about 7 minutes with five former students of the department who are now working in different fields, including the Home Office, the National Crime Agency, Metropolitan Police Cyber Unit, Forensic Outreach, and business development. The alumni talked about what they do and we then got the opportunity to ask them anything we wanted. It was helpful to ask about how they came across the opportunity, what they do during their day-to-day, and what they truly think about their jobs. They all really enjoy what they do and feel that the course they completed at UCL has helped them get to where they are now. Afterwards, there was an opportunity to ask any further questions. As always, drinks and snacks were provided, which helped to break the ice!

This experience showed me that the transferable skills you gain by working in our department and networking can be used in pursuing different career paths. The event had a great mix of people, with different backgrounds and interests within crime and forensic sciences. Finally, the sky is not the limit, and this careers event really inspired me. A big thank you to all the alumni who came back!