Skip to 0 minutes and 15 secondsHello, and welcome to the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification. My department works with the police and other investigative agencies to assist with the investigation both national and international crimes, aiming to establish truth and bring perpetrators of crime to justice. The CAHId the team comprises certified experts in several forensic disciplines, and has strong relationships with police forces across the UK. Our staff regularly present evidence in criminal courts, and many of these cases are extremely high profile. Over 400 forensic inquiries are made to our practitioners every year from police forces across the UK and from further afield. CAHId is an award winning research centre spanning the fields of anatomy, forensic anthropology, and forensic science.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsWe have a vibrant and exciting research team that collaborate both within the University of Dundee and externally with research partners from around the globe. We undertake research in many areas of forensic science, developing the underpinning science which the courts need so that evidence can be considered reliable and admissible. CAHId also undertakes research at the cutting edge of forensic science, creating new knowledge and developments in the field. Now the words forensic is derived from the Latin word forensis, which means pertaining to the forum, and that was the court of Rome. And in the modern day, our forum is in fact the courtroom.

Skip to 1 minute and 45 secondsAnd we make use of our scientific capabilities in the service of the legal system and the pursuit of justice. Science plays an incredibly important part in the full end to end process from crime scene to court. However, the popular perception of what forensic science can achieve is often rather sensationalised and unrealistic. So this is not a television series, and you'll not be working with actors. The experts you will encounter through your journey with us are real experts, individuals whose job it is to use forensic science to service justice effectively. Although we have created a story to accompany the learning process, the material presented represents the reality of what we might encounter in a live case.

Skip to 2 minutes and 32 secondsUpholding international standards, the certified experts in forensic archaeology and anthropology, forensic soil experts and cranial facial reconstruction specialists will lead you from the discovery of a body to the identification of a named human being. Being able to identify the deceased is probably one of the first and most important steps in the investigation process. Because if we don't know who the deceased was, then the police will find it challenging to progress that inquiry as they wouldn't know who to interview, friends, family or work colleagues. And for a family, one of the most distressing aspects of a missing person inquiry is simply not knowing what's happened to the person that they care about. They talk about their world going into a stutter.

Skip to 3 minutes and 20 secondsAnd then when we bring the news, it's hard, but it helps to bring some comfort through closure. So our aim in this course is to offer a glimpse into the world of forensic science and human identification as we open wide the doors of CAHId, and welcome you in as one of our students. We hope you'll leave us with a better understanding of forensic anthropology, a more realistic impression of the world of forensic science and human identification, and an appreciation for the humanitarian impact and the importance of this work. This course will not make you an expert.

Skip to 3 minutes and 53 secondsIt will provide you with an understanding of the basic principles and practises as you receive direct and realistic information of what actually happens in a case. We hope the journey will provide insight into the world of forensic anthropology and capture your imagination as you identify our victims and their story unfolds. So we welcome you, and we look forward very much indeed to working with you.

Welcome to the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification

Welcome to the department

Meet Professor Dame Sue Black, Director of the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee. Professor Black invites you to join her team of forensic experts on a journey into the investigation of human identity.

… In the shadow of Dundee’s Law Hill, the grim discovery of a skeleton demands the attention of the experts…International best-selling crime novelist Val McDermid will set the scene as participants journey through the investigative processes involved and work with the experts in identifying the body…

Please use the comments area on this page to introduce yourself and share with your fellow learners what attracted you to this course.


All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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This video is from the free online course:

Identifying the Dead: Forensic Science and Human Identification

University of Dundee