Delivery: blended. See details.
Forensic science, the application of science to legal matters, has always captivated individuals with an interest and aptitude for investigation. Seen in popular culture through television shows such as CSI, it is easy to see how forensic science has captured the attention and interest of society.
The goal of BCIT’s forensic science program is to provide a strong scientific approach to an applied discipline by exploring both the theoretical and practical aspects involved with forensics. The curriculum covers key areas required by forensic investigators, including, but not limited to: Canadian legal aspects, evidence and expert witness training, crime scene processing, case management, death investigation, biological aspects (DNA, anthropology, entomology, odontology, etc.), chemical aspects (fingerprinting, firearms/toolmarks, photography/video/imaging, etc.), physical aspects, and a variety of elective topics.
Applications are accepted throughout the year.
Most courses may be taken for professional development purposes on an individual course basis without formally applying to the program. To request approval to take a course for professional development, email the Program Assistant identifying which course you'd like to take and attach your current resume along with a brief explanation of how it pertains to your occupation or area of studies.
This program has a two-step admission process. Applicants must meet all entrance requirements to be accepted.
Step 1: Pre-entry assessment
Contact the Program Assistant for a pre-entry assessment.
You must upload an approved pre-entry assessment from the program area to your online application.
Step 2: Meet the following entrance requirements
- English: two years of education in English in an English-speaking country with one of the following:
- Completion of one of the following options prior to admission:
- Option 1: A two-year diploma (minimum of 60 credits) or associate or bachelor's degree from a recognized post-secondary institution or
- Option 2: A minimum of 60 credits of courses fulfilling the requirements of the first two years of study towards the completion of a defined undergraduate degree from a recognized post-secondary institution (e.g. BA, BSc, BComm, BASc, etc) or
- Option 3: A minimum of 60 credits of courses from one or more recognized post-secondary institutions (minimum of 18 credits at second-year or higher level) or
- Option 4: Certification as a police constable AND completion of 30 credits from a recognized post-secondary institution or
- Option 5: Meeting of alternate entry/exception policy. Contact the Program Assistant for details.
- Criminal Record Check (CRC)
- Contact your local police department to obtain the appropriate forms - Letter for police department [PDF]
- Must be issued within one year of your application date
- The outcome of the CRC may influence your acceptability for this program
- Completed and signed applicant waiver form from the program area
Applicants who have completed post-secondary studies outside of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand will require a comprehensive evaluation of their credentials by the International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES). Credential evaluation reports from other Canadian services may be considered. These reports must include course-by-course evaluations and GPA calculations.
Recommended for success
Attend an information session prior to applying for this program. For more information and to register for an information session visit the Forensics website.
Apply to program
To submit your application:
- Include proof of meeting all entrance requirements.
- Convert all transcripts and supporting documents to PDF files.
- Have a credit card ready to pay the application fee.
Ongoing Flexible Learning (Part-time Studies) intakes: January, April, and September.
Prior Learning Assessment & Recognition (PLAR)
Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) lets student use knowledge and skills learned outside recognized programs to gain exemption for particular courses in the program. Contact the Program Assistant for details.
Within two business days of submitting your completed application, BCIT will send a message to your personal and myBCIT e-mail addresses. All correspondence regarding your application will be posted to your online myCommunication account at my.bcit.ca. We'll send you an e-mail when a new message is posted. It's important to watch for these e-mails or regularly check your account online.
You can expect to receive communication concerning the status of your application within four weeks.
Flexible Learning (Part-time Studies) tuition is charged on a course-by-course basis. Please see the Flexible Learning (Part-time Studies) Tuition & Fees pages for more information:
Check current availability of courses for this program.
|1. Required Courses:||Credits|
|Legal Framework - Common Core|
Forensic Applications of Criminal Law 1: Legal Procedures
The Canadian criminal justice system is an adversarial system which pits the accused person against the State. The adversarial process follows a well-defined series of procedural steps from initial complaint to verdict and sentencing. This course provides a detailed examination of the legal procedures that govern criminal proceedings in Canada including the tendering of evidence by both Crown and defence, with a particular emphasis on issues applicable to forensic investigators and technicians.
Criminal Law 2: Legal Evidence
Forensic evidence is subject to all the general rules related to the admissibility of evidence in the criminal trial process and is also subject to certain unique rules of scrutiny. This course examines the fundamental laws of evidence within the adversarial process and provides a context for the expert in their role as witness.
Introducing Forensic Evidence at Trial
Through a practical exploration of the stages of a mock investigation and consequent trial, this course illuminates the vital role forensic evidence can play in criminal proceedings. The course will put particular emphasis on issues relating to the admissibility of forensic evidence and the evidentiary weight which results from the manner of identification, isolation, collection and analysis of such evidence. Each student will gather evidence, and generate notes and a written report relating to that evidence. Subsequently each student will undergo a simulated interview by Crown counsel followed by giving evidence relating to their role in the investigation at a mock trial.
|2. Complete 18.0 credits from the following list of Specialized Concentration and Electives courses:||Credits|
Complete 0.0 - 3.0 credits of the following:
Forensic Interviewing 1
The outcome of most investigations usually depends on the information supplied by victims, witnesses and suspects to an investigator. The amount and veracity of this information is of utmost importance. In this course, investigators learn methods and techniques available for interviewing victims, witnesses and suspects to obtain proper, informative and legal statements that will both aid in the investigation and be acceptable to the court.
Crime Scene Investigation
The course covers the major areas of crime scene examination, in order to give an in-depth understanding in theories of searching and in dealing with the entire range of physical evidence located during the various types of crime scene searches.
Introduction to Forensic Science
This course provides on overview of the fundamental principles of forensic science and its origins. Techniques and instrumentation employed by forensic experts and methodology used to maintain continuity and integrity of evidence are examined. The role of physical evidence in civil and criminal trials is also discussed.
Complete 0.0 - 3.0 credits of the following:
Case Management for Major Crime Investigation
This course is designed to provide the forensic investigator the concepts of case management and the application of case management methods in organizing investigative teams, planning investigative actions and analyzing evidence and intelligence.
Project Management for Investigations
There are two management concepts that when applied to any endeavor - including conducting complex criminal or civil investigations - historically tend to produce very successful outcomes. These concepts, using the strength of teams and project management, each have followers on an individual basis. The focus of this course will be to expose the student to both concepts to enable them to develop and experience an organized approach of any type of investigation.
Complete 12.0 - 18.0 credits from the following Biological Aspects, Chemical Aspects, Physical Aspects and electives:
Human Remains Recovery
This course demonstrates principles of forensic archaeology and methodical scene examination, showing how these principles are used in the search, excavation and recovery of human remains. The theories and methodologies employed are explored during lectures as well as during the field component. During the field component of the course (3x 8 hour days), teams will learn to process a scene from start to finish, including: initial scene assessment, surface scatter search, mapping, measuring, recording, gridding, screening, excavation and recovery of the remains. The course will conclude with a de-briefing session.
This course demonstrates the ways Forensic Odontology may assist in the resolution of criminal cases involving dental evidence. It provides an opportunity for technologists to learn the principles of handling dental evidence and the physical comparison and analysis of dental exhibits. A combination of lecture and laboratory format is used to demonstrate the various aspects of forensic dental science and to allow experience in using various materials to collect the physical, biological and photographic evidence used by the forensic odontologist.
This course provides the basic legal and scientific factors relevant to forensic pathology. The medical examiner and coroner systems are examined. The course determination and the presentation of pathological findings as evidence in court.
Forensic entomology is the study of insects associated with a human corpse, usually a homicide victim, to determine elapsed time since death. It can also be used to determine whether the body has been moved, disturbed after death, used drugs prior to death, etc. It is the most accurate and frequently the only method of determining elapsed time since death after 72 hours. The course provides the students with an overall understanding of entomology and its applications to criminal investigations, collecting insect evidence at a crime scene in a manner defensible in court, and the value of insect evidence and the results which can be expected from an entomologist.
Forensic Biology: DNA Typing Theory
This course provides instruction in forensic biology with a focus on current short tandem repeat (STR) technologies. The design of the course follows the logical progression of a forensic DNA case by including instruction in: evidence gathering and preservation techniques, the identification of biological evidence including presumptive and confirmatory testing, the extraction, quantitation and PCR amplification analysis strategies for common types of biological evidence (bodily fluids, hard and soft tissues and "touch" DNA), and the interpretation methods utilized for single-source profiles, mixed profiles, parentage and kinship scenarios. Each module also includes practical interpretation exercises based on real case work scenarios in order to underpin the theoretical aspects of this applied forensic discipline.
Forensic Biology: DNA Typing Applications
With the advent of new molecular techniques, DNA is the material of choice for forensic analysis. The current technology of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) makes it possible to identify an individual with a high degree of accuracy. A series of lectures and laboratory exercises will show students the strength of this powerful technique and how it applies to law enforcement.
This course involves condensed, but comprehensive investigation of human skeletal anatomy. The emphasis is placed upon the practical identification of skeletal elements, and student participation in laboratory sessions is expected.
Explosive and Fire Accelerants
The course involves the application of forensic science to the investigation of fires and explosions. It covers the legal framework which governs fire and explosion investigations and encompasses best practices for crime scene investigation for pertinent physical evidence, and its subsequent seizure and transportation to a forensic laboratory. Essential precautions against contamination of evidence are emphasised. Laboratory procedures are described. Case studies and demonstrations of typical physical evidence are used to illustrate the criteria for handling and examination of exhibits, and for selection and application of analytical instruments. The essence of forensic science examinations is the determination of the significance of analytical results, so this aspect of forensic reports and expert testimony is covered in depth, and students are taught best practices throughout. Problems which have arisen in casework from less than optimal practices are described, and the necessity for documentation of all steps in investigations of fires and explosions is strongly emphasized and illustrated.
Trace Chemical Evidence
This course covers the role of the forensic laboratory in the investigation of fibres (which includes textiles and cordages) and glass involved in cases such as break and enter and theft, hit and run, assault, sexual assault, attempted murder and murder; paint that involves vehicles; and other less common types of chemical trace evidence. The forensic chemist's role in discussion of the potential and the proper handling of exhibit materials, laboratory examination and analysis, identification and interpretation of results, and understanding of laboratory reports for investigation and court purposes.
The Medicolegal Aspects of Alcohol
This course examines the pharmacological and physiological effects of alcohol consumption on the human body. The theoretical basis and practical applications of various technologies, both laboratory based and field use based, that are currently utilized to determine blood alcohol concentration in the body will be thoroughly reviewed. Students will be given practical training in the usage of Approved Screening Devices and Evidentiary Breath Testing Instruments. Actual application and interpretation of the obtained blood alcohol concentration results within a courtroom setting will also be discussed and further reinforced by use of sample case studies.
This course serves as an introduction to the analysis, interpretation and reporting of common drugs encountered by a practicing forensic toxicologist. Other topics that are explored include laboratory techniques and instrumentation, pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of common drugs including cannabis, CNS stimulants, Opioids, CNS depressants and novel psychoactive drugs, the application of forensic toxicology to post-mortem, sexual assault and impaired driving cases, and presenting expert testimony in court. Directed reading, practical quiz and participatory discussions will introduce you to the science of forensic toxicology.
This laboratory course introduces the chemistry and analytical requirements for the testing of illicit and controlled drugs. The student will conduct experiments in the characterization of drugs in typical street form including cannabis, cocaine and crack, heroin, designer drugs and hallucinogens and others. The student will learn how to use various chemical tests, isolation and purification techniques, chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques and will also conduct experiments in drug synthesis. Other experiments will include topics related to clandestine laboratories and toxicological screening in body fluids.
Advanced Digital Imaging Techniques
This course provides the students with advanced forensic digital imaging concepts, imaging handling policies and procedures for the purposes of preserving and maintaining the chain of custody during the investigative process. Various techniques of image enhancement, video surveillance, multiple snapshots for comparison and image formatting for internet and intranet communication are covered.
Geographic Profiling 1
The course introduces the students to the theory, methodology and mathematical concepts in support of geographic profiling. Crime pattern theory, mental maps, crime hunting area concepts and supporting technology are also covered.
Geographic Profiling 2
This course builds on FSCT 8303 Geographic Profiling 1. This is a computer lab based course that focuses on using geographic profiling techniques applied to actual cases in property crime investigation. Emphasis is on analysis, jeopardy surface, peak geoprofile, scenario and strategy development and final report preparation.
Questioned Document Examination
This course provides a broad overview of forensic document examination. It is intended for anyone who may have a need to interact with forensic document examiners, e.g. investigators, lawyers, corporate compliance officers, police and crime scene officers. The course will include the requirements needed to enable forensic document examiners to conduct examinations of signatures, handwriting, office printers, printing and other physical evidence relating to documents. NOTE: This course will not train students to become forensic document examiners.
The Science of Fingerprints - Theory
This course covers the history of fingerprints as it relates to individualization; friction skin development; how to obtain a proper set of known fingerprint impressions; the Henry Classification System, the Auto-Class Classification System and Real Time Identification (RTID) System; fingerprint individualization with emphasis on Ridgeology; palm print individualization including the use of palmar flexion creases; procedures utilized in crime scene examination and recovery of fingerprints; chemical techniques for fingerprint detection; the Identification of Criminals Act; and the expert witness in the Canadian Court System.
Principles and Methods of Firearms and Toolmark Examination
This course covers firearms and ammunition, serial number restoration, physical matching and comparison, range determination, gunshot wounds and exhibit handling. Emphasis is placed on firearm and tool mark identification to increase understanding of the uniqueness of tool marks as an aid in investigating and solving crimes.
The multi-faceted field of Forensic Photography is used in diverse disciplines as Forensic Odontology, Dactyloscopy, Document Examination, Forensic Pathology and Forensic Tool Mark Examination. Forensic photography's role as well as its limitations are emphasized in this course. Students will be thoroughly immersed in the theory of photography, providing them with an understanding of the techniques which will be used in the practical exercise. Topics include crime scene photography, alternate light source photography, unltraviolet and infrared photography, photomicrography, macro photography, theory of light and photographic evidence in the courtroom.
Forensic Video Technologies
This course provides students with an in-depth analysis of the uses and evidentiary value of both digital and analogue video. It analyzes the proliferation of video cameras in today's society and demonstrates to investigators how they can take advantage of this accurate and powerful source of evidence. Through site surveys, students will gain an increased awareness and understanding of the use of video surveillance technologies and techniques. Students interpret recent Supreme Court decisions. Investigators are challenged to look for video at every crime scene; learn how to use it, and how to apply proper rules of evidence in order to protect it for court. Students are shown how to optimize a video surveillance system so the full evidentiary potential is obtained.
CCTV and Forensic Examination
This hands-on course provides the students with a thorough understanding of the latest in CCTV technology and system design. Using the latest in digital video forensic tools, students will learn techniques on how to extract, interpret, and clarify video evidence from both digital and analog CCTV sources for investigative purposes. A thorough understanding of the many different types of CCTV technology and systems being employed in today’s security environment will be explored. Students will evaluate the capabilities and limitations of CCTV recorded information for the purpose of forensic video examination and analysis.
Forensic Video Examinations
This course provides the students the understanding of the problems faces by Law Enforcement Professionals with video evidence and addresses how Avid Xpress DV can address these problems. From the receipt of the evidence to the results of the examination, students will gain hands-on experience as a Forensic Video Examiner.
Forensic Video Analysis: Advanced Tools & Techniques
This course provides the students a review of the latest trends and technologies in CCTV security and forensic video examinations. Students will complete an in-class forensic video examination project using Avid Xpress DV video processing techniques.
Forensic Video Analysis: Photographic/Video Comparison
Focuses on the technologies of comparing questioned and known objects, clothing and humans with videotaped images. The process of cataloguing class characteristics and unique characteristics in evidence will be examined. Using specialized computer software systems in a forensic lab environment, students develop a scientific work flow involving the analysis of video evidence, criminal case report writing and courtroom presentation.
Forensic Imaging Techniques
This five-day hands-on workshop will introduce the user to the key features of Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Adobe Bridge for use in a law enforcement setting. This will include setting up a valid forensic workflow, utilizing best practices, testimony issues, and using Photoshop and Bridge for basic image adjustments as well as for clarification and analysis of fingerprints, questioned documents, footwear and tool marks, video and the preparation of courtroom presentations. Through a series of lectures and computer lab sessions, students will learn about relevant court issues, best practices for a forensic workflow, and valid forensic procedures for using Adobe Photoshop in the forensic environment.
Forensic Science Option
Forensic Behavioural Science
This course provides an introduction to the assessment of risk for sexually deviant and violent behaviour. Participants learn about factors which are correlated to prediction of violent behaviour in people. The discussion of psychopathy, mental illness, personality disorders, deviance, and substance abuse takes place in the context of the behavioural science approach to police investigation.
Forensic Anthropology 2: Urban Crime Scene
This course is designed to meet the needs of crime scene examiners working in primarily urban settings. This course covers a variety of types of scenes encountered by urban investigators and includes a considerable emphasis on examining a variety of fire scenes for physical evidence. Participants in this course become part of small crime scene teams with others on several problem-based scenarios. This course heavily emphasizes hands-on practice. Most of the class time is spent in the field.
Selected Topics in Forensic Investigation
This course is designed for persons interested in death scene investigations. Participants will learn about the identification and appearance of corpses in violent and natural death. Relationship to the scene of death is emphasised, as are features of wounds on external examination. Some of the material on external examination will apply to the living. (e.g., assault victims). This course outlines the interdisciplinary approach to death investigation by highlighting the roles of the coroner (medical examiner), pathologist and forensic scientists.
Environmental Forensic Investigations
Environmental Forensics involves systematic examinations of environmental information to determine sources of chemical contamination, timing of releases to the environment, spatial distribution of contamination, cost recovery actions, liability claims, and potentially responsible parties to allocate remedial costs. Environmental Forensics developed approximately twenty years ago as a result of an effort to distinguish different petroleum hydrocarbon products in the environment. During the past five to ten years, environmental forensic investigations have evolved beyond analyses of petroleum hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents and environmental fate and transport modelling, to include a wide range of scientific investigative tools and techniques. The techniques are applicable to any contaminant source, i.e. inorganic, organic, metals, surface or subsurface water based contamination, etc.
This course introduces the various types of forensic art and applicability in a criminal investigation. Topics include: use of composite drawings of suspects; post-mortem drawings of deceased persons for identification; use of computers doing image modification (altering photos to provide a better image) and age-enhancement. Various forms of facial reconstruction of skeletal remains are also demonstrated.
|Elective courses may also be selected from the specialized concentration courses in the Forensic Investigation - Crime and Intelligence Analysis program. Please contact the program coordinator for further details.|
Check current availability of courses for this program.
Do you have credits from another BC/Yukon post-secondary school? Do you want to know if they transfer to courses here at BCIT? Check out BCIT's Transfer Equivalency Database to find out.
Students work through their chosen curriculum at their own pace, therefore, the total length required to finish the program can vary. At six credits per term, the Advanced Certificate Program can take five terms to complete.
Depending on the course learning outcomes, students will be graded on a combination of the following:
- Participation in in-class exercises
- Participation in and completion of case studies
- Participation in discussion forums
- Submission of completed projects
- Submission of completed assignments
- Mid-term and final examinations
The minimum passing grade for each course is 60%.
Additional program options
Blended: This program is delivered partly on campus and partly online.
Graduates from the Forensic Science Option may be employed in a range of investigative positions, depending on the student’s academic background and work experience. This may include:
- Technologist, Analyst or Scientist (with an advanced degree(s)) in a Forensic Laboratory
- Police Officer
Graduate employment outcomes
The BCIT student outcomes report presents summary findings from the annual survey of former students administered by BC Stats one to two years after graduation. These reports combine the last three years of available results for the 2019-2021 BCIT Outcomes Surveys of 2018-2020 graduates and for Degree 2017-2019 graduates. The reports are organized into three-page summaries containing information on graduates’ labour market experiences and opinions regarding their education. More detailed information can be accessed at the BC Student Outcomes website.
To view these results, you may need to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in your Web browser.
Apply for graduation
Upon successful completion of all program requirements, complete an Application for BCIT Credential [PDF] and submit it to Student Information and Enrolment Services.
Allow approximately six to eight weeks for processing.
All financial obligations to the Institute must be met prior to issuance of any credential.
Dave McKay, Program Head
After completing his BSc in molecular biology at Simon Fraser University in 2002, Dave then pursued an advanced certificate in forensic science technology at BCIT, where he developed his passion for forensics. He combined his background in science with his knowledge of cinematography, photography and computers to specialize in the field of forensic video analysis and surveillance technology. During his 6 years with the RCMP, Dave testified in court as an expert witness in the field of forensic video analysis and surveillance technology on multiple occasions.
As manager of BCIT’s Forensic Video and Surveillance Technology lab, Dave oversees all training in the areas of: forensic video, imaging, cell-phone forensics, and surveillance video technology. Additionally, the lab acts as an authority on video and photographic evidence – offering its expertise on many high profile cases, including the recent Braidwood Inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski. Dave McKay and the lab were recently featured on the Discovery channel’s “Daily Planet”.
Dave McKay’s current research interests include the development of advanced real-time video analysis software, self-sufficient intelligent camera systems, and complex forensic databases for the purpose of linkage through visual identification.
Fiona Kerr, Program Assistant
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