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FPA5007 - Death investigation

6 points, SCA Band 0 (NATIONAL PRIORITY), 0.125 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Leader(s): A/Prof David Ranson


Clayton Full year 2009 (Off-campus)


Coronial and other medico-legal death investigation systems.
This topic provides a framework and wider context for the practice of forensic pathology and covers:
Actual and theoretical models for death investigation systems, using examples from Australia, other jurisdictions and recent reform proposals in the UK including issues of organisation and administration, investigation powers and inquests/formal hearings.
Relationships with forensic pathology and science services.
Management of bodies and tissues.
Interaction with next of kin.

Death Scene Investigation
This topic will provide students with theoretical knowledge and practical skills to observe and analyse evidence at death scenes, enhancing their ability to work effectively with other participants in the process and assist in answering questions about the cause and the circumstances of deaths under investigation. These skills will be applied to a range of special scenes to provide students with as varied and relevant experience as possible:
Deaths in Custody
Hospitals and other Health Institutions
Transport Related Deaths
Mass Disaster
War Crimes Death Investigation
Industrial Deaths
Fire Scenes
Explosion Scenes


On completion of this unit the student is expected to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of different models for death investigation systems.
  2. Understand how issues of organisation and administration of death investigation systems and management of key processes impact on forensic pathology practice.
  3. Understand the principles of death scene investigation and the roles of the relevant participants in the investigation;
  4. Have acquired skills necessary for effectively observing and analyzing death scene evidence.
  5. Be able to apply these skills to different types of death scenes.


Assignments 30%, Case Study presentation 40% and Oral Examination 30%.

Contact hours

60 Contact hors (tutorials and attendance at scenes), 50 hours of case and practical work and approximately 46 hours for individual study, assignments and case book preparation.

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