Introduction to Ballistics - PS324

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn and Spring 4 15 (7.5) DR C Shepherd checkmark-circle


Mathematical Concepts for Impact Studies
Newton's laws of motion
Energy considerations

Introduction to ballistics
Categories of weapons
Weapon mechanisms
Ammunition construction
Internal ballistics
External ballistics
Terminal ballistics

Overview of Forensic Ballistics
The 1968 Firearms Act (as amended)
Categorisation of firearms and ammunition
Shooting case studies


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

20 hours of Ballistics lectures, 2 x 3hr laboratory classes, 1 x 2hr presentation session.


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Assessment is 100% by continual assessment consisting of 2 lab reports (20% of the module each), a presentation (20% of the module), and a 1100 word essay (40% of the module).

Indicative reading

  • Understanding Firearm Ballistics, R.A. Rinker. Mulberry Hs, USA. ISBN 0-9645598-4-6
  • Handbook of Firearms and Ballistics, Brian Heard, Wiley Blackwell. ISBN 0470694602
  • Small Arms, Derek Allsop & M Toomey, Brassey's (UK) Ltd. ISBN 1857532503

    See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

    Learning outcomes

    Knowledge and understanding of:

  • Newtonian mechanics relating to the flight of projectiles.
  • Energy considerations in ballistics.
  • Weapon mechanisms.
  • Ammunition.
  • Overview of the main stages of ballistics (internal, intermediate, external and terminal).
  • The 1968 Firearms Act.
  • How ammunition and firearms fit into the UK firearms legislation.
  • Applications of forensic science to ballistics.

    Generic learning outcomes:
  • Increasing of students' general mathematical abilities.
  • The application of mechanics to different scenarios.
  • The application of law to ballistics.
  • Development of practical skills in ballistics.
  • Writing of reports for different audiences.
  • Development of oral presentation skills.
  • Development of the skills required for higher level ballistics modules.
  • Development of research skills and the use of scientific literature.


    1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage of an undergraduate degree.
    2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
    3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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