University of dundee forensic science

By | 22nd May 2017

University of dundee forensic science

Forensic Science

Forensic is derived from the Latin word “forensis’ meaning ‘before the forum’. In the modern day, our ‘Forum’ is the court room and we make use of our scientific capabilities is the service of the legal system and the pursuit of justice.  Science can play a part in all aspects of the end to end – crime scene to court process however the popular perception of what forensic science can achieve is often sensationalised and unrealistic.  In truth, much of the scientific work that supports many areas of forensic science is badly defined and poorly researched, a point made clear by the US National Academy of Science in 2009. Forensic Science is increasingly fragmented both in terms of research and application such that it’s potential opportunity to provide a holistic problem solving approach within a given case context is all but eroded.

In 2015 CAHID Professors Sue Black and Niamh Nic Daeid received funding from the Royal Society to catalyse a paradigm shift in forensic science, developing, with national and international partners, a new focus on forensic science research. This has paved the way for the creation of a new and exciting research community with the potential to change the nature of forensic science research and the effective use of forensic science to serve justice.
We undertake research in many areas of forensic science, developing some of the underpinning science which the courts need so that evidence can be considered reliable and admissible. CAHID also embarks on research at the cutting edge of forensic science creating new knowledge and developments in the field.
Visit our research pages for more specific information about current research projects and our forensic services page for more information about the specialist approach CAHID provides

University of dundee forensic science

Forensic Anthropology & Human Identification


All Forensic Anthropology and Human Identification teaching in The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification is delivered by case-active forensic anthropologists who are accredited at the highest level by their professional bodies.

Forensic anthropology is the analysis of human remains for the medico-legal purpose of establishing identity. Traditionally the forensic anthropologist has dealt exclusively with human skeletal remains, however, the modern day multi-disciplinary nature of human identification requires the analysis of more than just dry bone.

Identification of the deceased

Forensic anthropologists now frequently deal with identification of both deceased and living individuals using a combination of hard and soft tissue features to aid their analysis. Additionally, evaluation of both deceased and living individuals is frequently conducted in an non-invasive manner via the interpretation of images produced from a variety of modalities including photography, x-ray, computed tomography and others.

As a result of this changing remit and expanding suite of analysis techniques, there is a significant requirement for anatomically-trained forensic anthropologists who are competent in dealing with both soft and hard tissues.

Leading the field

CAHID is leading the field in this area by offering programmes of study that combine anatomical training with forensic anthropology to provide students with a coherent study framework.  In addition, the Centre’s human identification research focuses on new multi-disciplinary approaches that are underpinned by anatomical information and understanding. CAHID’s teaching is informed by the research that is conducted by our case active academic staff which in turn is led by the questions that arise from their forensic casework.

Undergraduate and postgraduate programmes

At the core of a forensic anthropological analysis is the assessment of an individual’s age, sex, stature, and ancestry, together with an interpretation of skeletal trauma and pathology. These fundamental principles sit at the core of any forensic anthropology training offered by the Centre. CAHID offers a number of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes that are designed to equip students with the skills necessary for the analysis and identification of human skeletal remains.

This training is undertaken in dedicated laboratory areas with exclusive access to CAHID’s unique skeletal collections. Each programme offers a unique mix of theoretical subject matter combined with hands on practical experience which is delivered by case active academic staff who are world leaders in the field.

University of dundee forensic science

Forensic & Medical Art

The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification provides specialist services and training in medical and forensic art and facial identification. It is also involved in research across these fields.

Medical Art is the depiction of anatomy, medical science, pathology and surgery. This may include illustrations, diagrams, 3D models or animations for use in medical education, specialist training, public communication, medico-legal evidence and medical research.

First university in the UK to run postgraduate course

Dundee was the first UK university to run a postgraduate qualification in Medical Art and has lead the field in relation to medical visualisation. Tutors are qualified, registered and practising medical artists.
In addition, CAHID offers human dissection study with a high level of realism in colour, texture and movement and this enables optimal depiction and understanding of anatomical structures.

Forensic Art encompasses a wide range of subjects, including craniofacial anthropology and identification, traditional and virtual-sculptural forensic facial reconstruction, craniofacial superimposition, postmortem depiction, composite art and artificial age-progression.

Forensic Facial Identification entails the study of facial analysis and comparison through standardised facial photography, CCTV and 3D imaging, morphological analysis of the skull and face, craniofacial anthropometry, eyewitness evidence, the Cognitive Interview and Forensic Facial Composite production

Qualified and experienced forensic practitioners

The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification is the only place in the world with a postgraduate qualification in Forensic Art and the only place where craniofacial identification is taught as a specialisation. Tutors are qualified and experienced forensic practitioners.

University of dundee forensic science


The FAST and efficient international disaster Victim IDentification (FASTID) Project was launched with FP7 EU funding in collaboration with Interpol, Plassdata, Crabbe Consulting, Fraunhofer Institute and BundesKriminalamt.

It will establish an international system to manage inquiries concerning missing persons and unidentified bodies in   the event of disasters as well as day-to-day policing. It will result in the creation of a global Missing Persons and Unidentified Bodies (MPUB) database. Our involvement is with craniofacial identification and the processes necessary to identify mass fatalities using human remains and passport-style ante-mortem images of missing people.

Our research group collaborates frequently with Museums and the media, especially relating to craniofacial depiction of people from the past.

We also have research collaborations with the Anthropological Research Facility at University of Tennessee; Department of Psychology at the University of Texas, El Paso; the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI).


Main office:

Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification

College of Life Sciences
Dow Street Dundee
Tel: 01382 388825

Forensic Services:

For Legal and Police enquiries 01382 388825
Bones identification email:

Thiel Contact:

Course Contacts:

UG Forensic Anthropology

MSc Forensic Anthropology:
Dr Craig Cunningham ( 01382 388351

MSc Anatomy and Advanced Forensic Anthropology,

MSc Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology:

Dr Lucina Hackman ( 01382 386311

MSc Forensic & Medical Art:
Dr Chris Rynn ( 01382 388627
Mrs Caroline Erolin ( 01382 388627

MSc Human Anatomy:
Professor Tracey Wilkinson ( 01382 386825

Research and PhD opportunities

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid ( or 01382 384560

Body Donation:

Mrs Vivienne McGuire ( 01382 388825