Identifying the Dead – a research project

The key to any great story is in the detail, isn’t it? If the facts are questionable – and worse still, wrong – then the whole story is tainted.
No-one wants to read a mystery story and find the plot to be a complete joke because the author hasn’t bothered to find out how certain procedures work and has just glossed over the facts to reach an unconvincing – and laughable – conclusion.
As an avid reader, when this happens to me I am not only disappointed with the outcome, but I feel cheated. The story that was promised to me in the blurb description was all hype just to get my attention. And I hate it when that happens.
Does the phrase ‘it does what it says on the tin’ not apply to books too? Well, it should!
So, to make sure I don’t commit the same heinous crime of fiction myself, I have enrolled on a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) entitled ‘Identifying the dead’ offered by the University of Dundee. Here, the whole forensics procedure is explained in an entertaining way – almost like watching your favourite TV show and seeing what the experts see as they build the clues to solve the murder.


Here’s what’s involved:

The first step in any investigation involving a death is to determine the identity of the deceased. This free online course will take you on a journey through the world of forensic anthropology, unveiling the tools that will allow you to reveal that identity.

Join forensic experts to identify the dead

In the shadow of Dundee’s Law Hill, a grim discovery demands the attention of forensic experts. Unidentified human remains have been found and the police need to identify the victim to move forward with their investigation.

After a meticulous recovery of the remains, it will be your job to:

  • document and attempt to explain any evidence of trauma;
  • identify the victim through biological profiling;
  • and undertake a facial reconstruction.

Experts from the University of Dundee’s award-winning Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHId) will guide you through the process of human identification.

They will introduce you to the fields of human identification; forensic anthropology and archaeology; craniofacial identification; and the study of the human body.

Evaluate evidence as the case unfolds

Week-by-week, the case will unfold, providing you with more information about the victim. You will be presented with theoretical material and hands-on learning opportunities, to evaluate the case information and use what you have learned, to piece together clues to the victim’s identity.

You will be able to discuss, with educators and others learners, your thoughts on the identity of the deceased, based on your evaluation of the evidence.

Get your own copy of the murder mystery

After you submit your evaluation of the victim’s identity, all will be revealed at the end of the final week. You can continue your journey into the life and death of our victim in your very own ebook copy of a specially-written murder mystery by international best-selling crime novelist Val McDermid.

Can you use the skills that you will learn on this course to identify the dead?

Sound’s cool, doesn’t it? I cannot wait to get started 🙂 

If you’re interested, check out Future Learn Courses, there’s bound to be something that interests you too.



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