Problem based learning in digital forensics

Alastair Irons*, Paula Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the efforts of two universities to address the issue of providing computer forensics students with the opportunity to get involved in the pssssractical aspects of forensic search and seizure procedures. The paper discusses the approaches undertaken by the University of Sunderland and the University of South Wales (Glamorgan) to give the students the opportunity to process a case from the crime scene through to the court room. In order to do this both institutions adopted a problem-based learning (PBL) approach – to reflect real-world solutions and encourage students to work in groups to seek further knowledge and understanding of the various processes and procedures – in particular the steps around search and seizure of digital evidence from a crime scene. The PBL activities at Sunderland and Glamorgan were designed in order to help the students understand the processes of digital crime scene analysis and search and seizure procedures and to give them the opportunity to put into practice their digital forensics techniques. Both exercises were designed to give the opportunity to solve realistic problems using PBL, and to illustrate the inter-relationships between science, technology and human activity as it applies to digital forensics, forensic science and the criminal justice system. The paper concludes with an evaluation of the exercises considering the impact they have had on student understanding and learning. Consideration is given to how the PBL activities can be disseminated and/or transferred to the wider community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-105
Number of pages11
JournalHigher Education Pedagogies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Crime scene
  • Problem-based learning
  • Search and seizure
  • computer forensics


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