Our journey to find Mr X

Welcome to Forensic Facial Reconstruction: Finding Mr X. I’m Professor Katherine Linehan and I’ll be your guide through this course.

I’m a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Anatomy Team in the Department of Biomedical Science here at The University of Sheffield.

An image of Katherine, our lead educator

Together, we’ll be retracing the investigation of a real crime case to learn how forensic science techniques are used to determine the identity of an unknown person.

These are scientific skills which I teach to students on my Forensic Anatomy module. As part of this module, students are given a box of ‘anatomical evidence’ relating to an unidentified person and must apply forensic techniques, including a facial reconstruction, to determine the identity and cause of death.

On this course, you’ll learn some of these same skills, including how to determine a person’s sex and ethnicity by analysing their skull and how to describe the key muscle groups of the face.

We’ll also have a chance to go behind the scenes and learn how a crime can be solved with the help of forensic experts.

Why Mr. X?

Mr. X was the victim in a real murder case which was solved using forensic techniques, including a facial reconstruction, in March 2000.

These techniques were performed by experts here at the University of Sheffield and this case provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate the real life application of forensic anatomy study within the context of a police investigation.

So, over the next two weeks, we’ll hear the story of finding Mr. X from the people who were instrumental in solving the case.

We’ll also be joined by other forensic experts and anatomy demonstrators who will show us how to apply some of these basic forensic techniques.

Our experts

An image of our experts on the course: Martin Evison, Nikki Taylor, Nicola Moyle, Caroline Wilkinson and Daheen Lee

The varied expertise of all our contributors will reveal how studying a range of scientific, medical and anthropological subjects can lead to a fascinating career in forensic science.

Before we get started, here are a few things you should know about the course.


A word of warning

In this course, we are not concerned with the details of the crime, but are focusing on the forensic techniques used to solve the case. However, due to this subject matter, some learners may find the content distressing.

Throughout the course, we will refer to the facts of the case, but all images are reconstructed from high calibre resin casts of the skull and skeleton and no postmortem images are used.


Complete your profile

By filling in your profile details, you will help us to understand our learners better. Information such as your educational level and employment area really helps us when it comes to evaluating the course and guides us in making improvements for future runs. You can complete your profile by visiting the more about you page.


Have your say

Throughout the course, we hope you’ll make the most of FutureLearn’s social features: post your thoughts or questions in the comment feed below each post and don’t be afraid to ‘like’ other learners’ posts and start conversations. We’ll be keeping an eye on your comments and will be dipping in where we can to guide you in the right direction.

To get warmed up, why not use the comments to introduce yourself and tell us a bit about why you’re taking this course?

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This article is from the free online course:

Forensic Facial Reconstruction: Finding Mr. X

The University of Sheffield