Firearms & Ballistics - PSCI5560

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


Internal ballistics
Weapon failure
Cartridge case and bullet analyses
Gunshot residue analyses
Serial number restoration
Trajectory analyses
Wound ballistics
Shooting scene reconstruction
The effect of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)
A multidisciplinary approach to ballistics
Modern Ballistics research


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 51
Private study hours: 99
Total study hours: 150


This is not available as a wild module.

Method of assessment

Assignment 1 (8%) - 3 hours
Assignment 2 (16%) - 1000 words
Assignment 3 (16%) - 1000 words
Examination (60%) - 2 hours

Indicative reading

Criminalistics (An introduction to Forensic Science), Richard Saferstein (2015), Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-013827-4
Understanding Firearm Ballistics, R.A. Rinker (2005). Mullberry Hs, USAISBN 0-9645598-4-6
Practical Skills in Forensic Science (2005), Pearson Press ISBN 0-131-14400-6
Wounds Ballistics and the Scientific Background (2011), Karl G. Sellier, Beat P. Kneubuehl, ISBN 0444815112
Wound Ballistics: Basics and Applications: Robin M Coupland, Beat P. Kneubuehl, Markus A Rothschild, Michael J Thali (2011), ISBN 3642203558

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Have a knowledge and understanding of:
The internal working of a range of firearms.
Heat transfer within firearms.
How firearms can fail and why.
How sound and flash moderators operate.
In depth analyses of cartridge cases and bullets.
The different methods utilised for gunshot residue analyses.
Methods employed for serial number restoration of tampered with firearms.
The reconstruction of bullet trajectories from crime scene evidence.
Extrapolation of useful information from ballistic trauma.
The consideration of all evidence at a shooting scene to reconstruct possible scenarios.
The effect of fragments from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) on the body and structures.
A consideration of how to take a multidisciplinary approach to ballistics.
Up-to-date research in the field of ballistics.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
Have a knowledge and understanding of:
Building on the ballistics knowledge learned in PS324 – Introduction to Ballistics.
Increasing of students' general mathematical abilities.
The application of law to ballistics.
Develop practical skills in ballistics.
Writing of reports for different audiences.
To develop the skills required for employment in the ballistics field.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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