Firearms & Ballistics - PS556

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
(version 2)
Spring 5 15 (7.5) DR C Shepherd checkmark-circle


  • Internal ballistics
  • Weapon failure
  • Suppressors
  • 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.


    This module appears in the following module collections.

    Contact hours

    25 hours of lectures, 3 three hour Laboratory classes, 7 two hour Workshops.


    This is not available as a wild module.

    Method of assessment

    Assessment is 60% by examination and the remaining 40% by continual assessment consisting of 3 lab reports.

    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

    Understanding the internal working of a range of firearms.

  • Knowledge of heat transfer within firearms.
  • Seeing how firearms can fail and why.
  • Understanding how sound and flash moderators operate.
  • To be aware of the different methods utilised for gunshot residue analysis.
  • To use methods employed for serial number restoration of tampered firearms.
  • Be able to reconstruct bullet trajectories from crime scene evidence.
  • Knowledge of how to extrapolate useful information from ballistic trauma.
  • The consideration of all evidence at a shooting scene to reconstruct possible scenarios.
  • To understand the effects of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) on the body and other structures.
  • To have a consideration of how to take a multi-disciplinary approach to ballistics.
  • To be aware of how up-to-date research in the field of ballistics is carried out.

    Generic learning outcomes:
  • 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. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 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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