Undergraduate Forensic Science Essay Sample

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The Improvements in Forensic Science Technologies


Forensic science applies scientific knowledge and methodology to resolve lawful questions and problems for people and society. It entails observation, documentation, collection, analysis, assessment, and scientific interpretation of evidence during the investigation needed for the diverse fields of law, like criminal law, civil, work, family, and administrative.

Presently, plenty of innovative insights and advanced technologies have led to this field’s rapid growth because of the ability to conduct thorough investigations and have clear answers to murder mysteries and serial killers. Genetics aims to divulge the remarkable secrets encoded in the gene codons, gene expression and regulation, heredity, and genomic evolution.

Several TV shows and programs like The Fall, movies like The Perfume, and songs like The Ripper by Judas Priest give proof of a complete extensive enthrallment with serial killers who have operated throughout history and worldwide. The documented serial murder cases dating back to the 1800s, with most of the convicted serial killers having had rough childhoods that led to their indulgence in serial killing, are still underway in case any evidence is unveiled.

The Forensic Science Advancements

Patrick Mackay’s first murder that he was convicted of was of killing Father Crean, a catholic priest. This murder happened in the year 1975. Due to the lack of standardized forensic practices, criminal analysis and trials relied greatly on obligatory confessions and eyewitness testimony. In Patrick Mackay’s case, the investigators collected fingerprint samples from the crime scene and analyzed them to determine the killer’s identity.

In addition, after Mackay was captured, he was interrogated and forced to confess to his crimes. Although he confessed to several additional crimes, he later confessed and was charged for three murders (Aamodt, 16). The main disadvantage of the fingerprint method during this era was that it was not as advanced as it is presently.

Therefore, the use of this method did not produce high-quality results. The advancements in forensic science could have incorporated forensic DNA analysis, which involves DNA in criminal justice testing. When he struck the father with an axe in the head and spilt blood, the axe had his sweat. Therefore, this method would have been beneficial in determining whether it was his DNA.

Some of the evidence he might have left behind would have been obtained from the axe he used or the father’s door knob because his prints were left behind. Due to the late development of this method in 1981, the murder occurred in 1975, where there was no possibility of incorporating this method. The main benefit of this method is that forensic scientists only require 0.1% of the human’s DNA unique sequence.

Although each person has about 99.9% of the human DNA sequence, only a small amount is required to determine the specific DNA. The precision of the correctness of the method makes it a valuable tool in forensic DNA analysis. This method involves DNA extraction from the crime scene, which is later amplified by artificially increasing the amount of copies of the specific fragment. Then quantified to establish the standard concentration of the genetic material available in the combination, and finally profile matching where an individual’s DNA characteristics is determined (Arnaud: 2017: 18).

Consequently, this procedure involves using mass spectrometry, which helps differentiate the fluid present for analysis. This method is mainly utilized in protein detection, identification, and quantization, where the instruments’ high precision, sensitivity, and elasticity are crucial in biological research and diagnostic detection.

The challenge affecting mass spectrometry depends on the value and reproducibility of test extraction and preparation. Therefore, in the case of a low-quality sample, the results received will be of low quality and incorrect. This process can include using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, which is crucial in indirect screening for DNA integrity when using home samples.

This method is also essential in evaluating collagen bonds related to similar hydrogen and covalent bonds, especially if the bones under analysis have been exposed to extreme heat and burn.. This means the collected DNA specimen should be kept dry and cool before beginning the DNA recovery procedures. In addition, the amount of the samples collected from the confirmed items for undersized tandem repeat analysis by means of the PCR has been a setback to the utilization of this procedure (Aamodt, 16).

Subsequently, forensic scientists could have incorporated the use of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), a molecular biology procedure for amplifying sections of DNA by creating numerous copies using DNA polymerase enzymes in controlled environment. PCR would have been necessary when determining the fingerprints of Mackay from the axe, the knife, the doorknobs he touched, and on the priest’s body during the fight.

This means the recurring DNA regions situated outside the coding regions of DNA can be utilized to further enhance the DNA analysis. The main advantage of using this method is that it can reproduce specific nucleotide sequences from less DNA levels or degraded DNA samples. The small amount of template DNA amplified depends on the type of primers used, which help create a large amount of DA from a very minimal sample.

The only trace quantities of the template DNA holding the sequence to be amplified are essential for the reaction. In addition, since the primers used are specific to human DNA, bacterial DNA does not affect the results if it is present. PCR is limited to PCR inhibitors that are easily obtained with a sample in extracting the DNA sample (Katsanis: 2020: 550). The universal inhibitors present in the forensic section samples are hematin, indigo, melanin, collagen, tannic acid, and calcium phosphate.

In addition, organic extraction, a type of DNA extraction method, could have been a better option to recover any DNA present in an unknown sample. The setback to using this method is that it is labour-intensive and expensive. This means that it requires skilled labour. On the contrary, this method generates increased yield and extremely spotless double-stranded extracted DNA (Dutton: 2015: 8). It also incorporates proteinase K essential for the inactivation of nucleases that might cause DNA degradation during the extraction process.

The other two cases that Mackay was convicted for were similar because they were all related to older women. The first woman, Isabella Griffiths, was strangled and struck repeatedly with a heavy instrument and stabbed through the chest, while the second woman, Adele Price, was strangled to death. The forensic science method used to determine Isabella’s body was fingerprint identification. (Aamodt, 16).

This method was then popular and the most used to give precise results. Since her body was found after 12 days, the forensic scientists dusted the place to obtain the fingerprints on the doorknobs, the kitchen counter, and the victim’s body. The main advantage of this method is that no two people have similar fingerprints, making it easy for the scientists to match the acquired sample with the fingerprints in the system. In addition, the efficiency of this method is high because the examiners that carry out the procedure are highly skilled and give results with fewer errors.

On the contrary, the use of this method was limited by the distortion of the fingerprints and the inability to determine the results of sufficient and insufficient correspondence. There was also the possibility of obtaining a false positive where the report would include that a certain individual is the source of an impression when they are not and a false negative that would report that an individual is not the source while they are. The verification process where two analysts took the tests and concluded that the results were inconclusive because of their differing results overcame these two errors.

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If the two cases had happened in this era, the forensic scientists would have incorporated the DNA phenotyping method that involves the sequencing of a DNA sample and providence of identifying traits of the suspect like the hair colour, skin, and eye colours. In addition, the use of this technique is also essential in determining the age and the biological background of the suspect (Shen: 2016: 6).

To determine the level of damage on the first victim who was struck repeatedly in the head, the use of alternative light photography would have been essential. The main advantage of this device is that it enables forensic scientists to spot the damage even before it becomes observable on the skin surface because the camera used uses blue light and orange filters that plainly illustrate any bruising below the skin’s surface.

Figure 1. The Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy by Katsanis, 2020.

Figure 1. The Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy by Katsanis, 2020.

Figure 2. The fingerprint collection process. (Arnaud, 2017)

Figure 2. The fingerprint collection process. (Arnaud, 2017)


The advancements in forensic science technologies have led to an increase in the processes of identifying murderers and reducing the crime rates in most countries. These advancements have been extremely beneficial in ensuring the lethal perpetrators are caught, tried, and put behind bars for the community’s safety. Through all the case studies above, the forensic science methods used are beneficial to the study. This is because they all relate to the studies.


Arnaud, C.H., 2017. Thirty years of DNA forensics: How DNA has revolutionized criminal investigations. Chemical and Engineering News95(37), pp.16-20.

Dutton, G., Mcleod-Henning, D., Nguyen, M., Scott, F., Castellanos, V., Dupont, A. and Ernst, C., 2015. The Impact of Forensic Science Research And Development. National Institute of Justice.

Katsanis, S.H., 2020. Pedigrees and perpetrators: Uses of DNA and genealogy in forensic investigations. Annual review of genomics and human genetics21, pp.535-564.

Shen, M. and Vieira, D.N., 2016. Forensic science: defending justice.

Aamodt, M.G. and Moyse, C., 2003. Researching the multiple murderer: A comprehensive bibliography of books on specific serial, mass, and spree killers. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology18(1), pp.61-85.

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