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SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY 
REGISTERED QUALIFICATION: 

National Certificate: Forensic Science 
SAQA QUAL ID QUALIFICATION TITLE
57651  National Certificate: Forensic Science 
ORIGINATOR
SGB Forensic Science 
PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QUALITY ASSURANCE FUNCTIONARY NQF SUB-FRAMEWORK
SAS SETA - Safety and Security SETA  OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
QUALIFICATION TYPE FIELD SUBFIELD
National Certificate  Field 08 - Law, Military Science and Security  Safety in Society 
ABET BAND MINIMUM CREDITS PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL QUAL CLASS
Undefined  124  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  Regular-Unit Stds Based 
REGISTRATION STATUS SAQA DECISION NUMBER REGISTRATION START DATE REGISTRATION END DATE
Reregistered  SAQA 06120/18  2018-07-01  2023-06-30 
LAST DATE FOR ENROLMENT LAST DATE FOR ACHIEVEMENT
2024-06-30   2027-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

PURPOSE AND RATIONALE OF THE QUALIFICATION 
Purpose:

Qualified learners will be able to apply their skills in a forensic science laboratory in either the public or private sectors. The qualified learner will work under the direction of a forensic scientist or senior forensic scientist on a regular basis and operate within a laboratory to analyse forensic evidence in order to determine its evidential value for a specific case. Qualified learners will know the elementary principles underlying evidential value and examination techniques in the following forensic science fields: biology, ballistics, questioned documents, criminalistics and chemistry. The qualified learner will be able to assist in the operations of a forensic science laboratory via the calibration of measurement instruments, and the documentation of results in prescribed formats. Qualified learners will be able to present specialised forensic evidence in support of the expert evidence in a court of law. The principles of forensic science can be applied to the field of policing. In the private and public sectors qualified learners will be able to deliver efficient forensic services by implementing good business practice. Learners accredited with this qualification will also be able to identify, investigate, analyse and implement solutions for problems that traverse the different specialised fields within forensic science.

Qualifying learners will be able to:
  • Analyse the value and role of forensic science.
  • Apply evaluative thought processes within a scientific context.
  • Comply within current legal and criminal justice systems.
  • Apply business practices within the field of forensic science.

    When accredited with this qualification learners will be able to provide specialised supportive evidence in court, which will open up the legal and criminal justice systems for the qualified learner. Through their knowledge of these systems and processes, they will be able to apply their scientific knowledge to serve justice in South Africa.

    By completing this qualification a learner will have a better understanding of the field of forensic science, and be able to make informed decisions regarding further career choices. This qualification will afford learners the opportunity to discover the exciting opportunities each of the fields in forensic science has to offer. It will pave the way towards a career in forensic science.

    Rationale:

    The challenges of safety in society are multi-levelled and complex, especially in the scientific arena. In order to serve justice, forensic science has to be developed to its full potential. In this effort it has to fulfil its role as a specialised field within the physical sciences and its role within the law enforcement service. However it is in its role as a scientific instrument to serve justice that forensic science has much to offer in South Africa. The field of forensic science has multiple entry levels, and it current does not offer an introductory level qualification for learners who wish to embark on a career in forensic science in South Africa.

    This qualification serves as an introduction into the field of forensic science, and will afford learners the opportunity to conceptualise the positioning of forensic science within the sciences and within the criminal justice system. Through this qualification the law enforcement agencies will be able to rely on the expertise of graduating learners in their combined efforts to serve the criminal justice system. This qualification will add value to current forensic science training on a national level, and will enhance the quality of forensic science services in South Africa.

    South Africa as a nation will benefit from the higher conviction rates that will be possible, when learners are empowered with expertise that will minimise human-error in the plethora of systems and processes that ultimately are linked, and work in concert to prepare case-related forensic evidence for the court.

    This qualification will calibrate the entry level of qualification obtained in the field of forensic science, and thus assist in setting the standard for entrance into this professional field. It is foreseen that this qualification will be followed by others, on higher NQF levels, and together this set of qualifications will firmly establish the standard of forensic science training in the country. This qualification will do so for the learner entering the field of forensic science. Moreover it will formalise the qualification at this level for those already working in forensic science.

    The introduction of a qualification based on unit standards will allow learners to attain their full potential, allowing them to embark on a career in forensic science. Moreover, it will allow other professions that are linked to forensic science the opportunity to achieve knowledge of this specific field and its multiple sub-fields. The role of forensic science, in the context of science will be clear. In addition, learners will be able to place forensic science in the context of the criminal justice system.

    The qualification will be a vehicle of transformation within the forensic science sector. It will allow the opportunity for learners to achieve its outcomes via multiple avenues, such as recognition of prior learning, informal and formal learning, and enable learners to demonstrate their competencies irrespective of how it was obtained and developed. Learners will obtain a qualification that is registered on the NQF and is benchmarked at an international level, thereby establishing a world-class standard in the forensic science profession in South Africa. 

  • LEARNING ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE AND RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING 
  • Mathematics at NQF level 4.
  • Communication at NQF level 4.
  • Physical science at NQF level 4.

    It is important to note that learners without a clear understanding of Mathematics and Science might find it difficult to successfully complete this qualification.

    Recognition of Prior Learning:

    This qualification may therefore be achieved in part or completely through the recognition of prior learning, which includes formal, informal and non-formal learning and work experience.

    Access to the qualification:

    Access to this qualification is a FETC Level 4 or equivalent (i.e. grade 12). Learners with certain physical disabilities, such as colour blindness, may not be able to successfully complete this qualification. This is due to the fact that some of the forensic science techniques that learners will have to master require that the learner be able to make distinction between different colours. 

  • RECOGNISE PREVIOUS LEARNING? 

    QUALIFICATION RULES 
  • All fundamental unit standards must be completed (22 credits).
  • All core unit standards must be completed (69 credits).
  • A minimum of 33 credits must be chosen from the elective component.
  • When an elective stream is chosen all the unit standards in that stream must be completed.

    The elective unit standard category is open-ended to allow the learner to choose the credits associated with the elective unit standards from related disciplines which would add value to the qualification. 

  • EXIT LEVEL OUTCOMES 
    On achieving this qualification, learners will be able to:

    1. Analyse the importance and role of forensic science.
    2. Apply evaluative thought processes within a scientific context.
    3. Comply within current legal and criminal justice systems.
    4. Apply business practices within the field of forensic science.

    Critical Cross Field Outcomes:
  • Identify and solve problems in which responses display that responsible decisions, using critical thinking, have been made.
  • Work effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisation or community.
  • Organise and manage oneself and one's activities responsibly and effectively.
  • Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information.
  • Communicate effectively using visual, mathematical, and/or language skills in the modes of written and/or oral presentation.
  • Use science and technology effectively and critically, show responsibility towards the environment and the health of others.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation.
  • Contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the society at large, by making it the underlying intention of any programme of learning to make an individual aware of the importance of:

    > Reflecting on and exploring a variety of strategies to learn more effectively.
    > Participating as responsible citizens in the life of local, national and global communities.
    > Being culturally and aesthetically sensitive across a range of social contexts. 

  • ASSOCIATED ASSESSMENT CRITERIA 
    1.
  • Fields within forensic science are compared in order to establish their inter-relationships.
  • The purpose of fields within forensic science is assessed in order to establish their place within the sciences.
  • Forensic science practices are explained with examples.

    2.
  • Analytical thinking skills are applied within the forensic science field.
  • Own interpretation skills are promoted during the application of the analytical thought process.
  • Deductions based on scientific evidence are made, and applied in support of the forensic science findings.
  • Mathematical and statistical principles are applied in support of scientific forensic findings.
  • Strategies to solve problems are formulated in order to inform decision making in a structured scenario.

    3.
  • Evidence is collected, handled and preserved in line with the current legal framework.
  • The link between the purpose of forensic science and the justice system is analysed in order to function within the justice system.
  • The presentation of findings is demonstrated within a court of law.
  • The link between forensic science and its influence on forensic investigation and intelligence is determined in order to enhance the evidential value of forensic science.

    4.
  • Communication strategies are implemented to ensure effective channels of information flow.
  • Professional performance is managed according to ethical practices in the forensic science field.
  • A work environment is assessed against prescribed safety principles.
  • Quality management systems are maintained within a forensic science context.

    Integrated assessment:

    The applied competence (practical, foundational and reflective) of this qualification will be achieved if a learner is able to achieve all exit level outcomes of the qualification. The identification and solving of known problems, team work, organising self, using of data, implication of actions and reactions in the world as a set of related systems must be assessed during any combination of practical, foundational and reflective competencies assessment methods and tools to determine the individual development and integration of applied knowledge and skills.

    Certain exit level outcomes are measurable and verifiable through assessment criteria assessed in a single assessment. Applicable assessment tool(s) to establish the foundational, reflective and embedded knowledge to problem solving and application of the world as a set of related systems within the Policing environment. Competence will be assessed when conducting formative and summative assessment.

    The assessment criteria for formative assessment are described in the various unit standards. Formative assessment takes place during the process of learning and assessors should use a range of assessment methods and tools that support each other to assess total competence.

    The assessment methods and/or tools used by the assessor must be fair in a sense that they do not hinder or advantage the learner, valid in a sense that they measure what they intend to measure, reliable in a sense that they are consistent and delivers the same output across a range of learners and practical in a sense that they take into account the available financial resources, facilities, equipment and time.

    Summative assessment and terminal assessment are carried out at the end of the learning programme to assess the achievement of the learner. A detailed portfolio of evidence is required to prove the practical, applied and foundational competencies of the learner. 

  • INTERNATIONAL COMPARABILITY 
    The National Certificate Forensic Science was compared to courses presented in international qualifications, on the basis of their content and the respective aspects or fields addressed.

    1. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Report:

    The NIJ published a report that embodies the best practice, entitled "Education and Training in Forensic Science: A Guide for Forensic Science Laboratories, Educational Institutions, and Students", in June 2004. The Technical Working Group for Education and Training in Forensic Science consisted of forty eight (48) representatives of "forensic science educators, laboratory directors, forensic science trainers, education professionals, prosecutors, and defence attorneys" from the United States.

    The Technical Working Group identified the following professional skills as "essential to an individual's effectiveness as a forensic science professional": critical thinking (quantitative reasoning and problem solving), decision making, good laboratory practices, awareness of laboratory safety, observation and attention to detail, computer proficiency, interpersonal skills, public speaking, oral and written communication, time management and prioritisation of tasks. In addition the following knowledge, skills and abilities were deemed as essential for pre-employment preparation: quality assurance, ethics, professional standards of behaviour, evidence control, report writing, scientific method, inductive and deductive reasoning, statistics, and safety.

    The following core elements were identified for a forensic science curriculum: introduction to law/justice system, ethics/professional practice, forensic science specialty overview, evidence identification, collection, and processing, quality assurance, courtroom testimony, technical or scientific writing. Model criteria for training programmes were identified as:
  • Standards of conduct - includes professional ethics training.
  • Safety - includes biological, chemical, and physical hazards.
  • Policy - includes such administrative and laboratory policies as standard operating procedures, quality assurance, accreditation, and security.
  • Legal - includes expert testimony, depositions, rules of evidence, criminal and civil law and procedures, and evidence authentication.
  • Evidence handling - includes interdisciplinary issues; recognition, collection, and preservation of evidence; and chain of custody.
  • Communication - includes written, verbal, and nonverbal communication skills; report writing; exhibit and pretrial preparation; and trial presentation.

    The above guidelines represent international best practice in the field of forensic science education and training. All of the above aspects are extensively addressed in the qualification, on occasion in separate unit standards. The qualification is thus calibrated on an international best practice level.

    2. North America:

    In addition to the NIJ report twenty-seven (27) forensic science qualifications from seventeen (17) education and training providers were compared to the qualification. The qualification compares well with qualifications from North America in terms of the scope and depth of the qualification. Aspects included in the core of the qualification were also identified as essential in qualifications from this continent.

    3. South America:

    Chile has the most comparable infrastructure and socio-economic development levels to that of South Africa. It is thus an excellent benchmark for this qualification in terms of the development of specialised services and the training of specialised forensic science officers. As in the qualification, the training programmes in Chile also addressed the formative and holistic development of the learner. The training programmes in Chile compare well with the qualification, and both address formative aspects, developmental aspects, as well as specialised courses (i.e. the electives of the qualification) for specialised environments.

    4. Europe:

    Qualifications from the following countries were compared: United Kingdom and British Isles, Turkey, Italy, India, Switzerland, Germany and Poland. Europe and the United States are regarded as the world leaders of forensic science training and education. Twenty-two (22) forensic science qualifications and sixteen (16) unit standards from thirteen (13) education and training providers were compared to the qualification. The qualification is in line with the level of training and education of this continent, and address the common core and elective components of qualifications in this region.

    5. Other Countries:

    Qualifications from the following countries were compared to the qualification: Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Mauritius. Fifteen (15) qualifications from six (6) providers were compared, and the qualification was found to be in alignment with forensic science education and training in these countries.

    6. Africa:

    No formal forensic science education and training current exists on the continent. Twenty three (23) universities from sixteen (16) African countries were investigated for forensic science training programmes. In 2004 an African Forensic Sciences Service Workshop was hosted by South Africa, and representatives from the following countries attended: Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The outcome of the meeting was that no forensic science education and training programs existed in Africa. All the countries in attendance indicated a need for a qualification in forensic science. The National Certificate Forensic Science qualification could therefore be used as a benchmark for entry level Forensic Science qualifications in Africa. 

  • ARTICULATION OPTIONS 
    This qualification was developed for entrance into the forensic science profession, and will raise the standard of practice in this sector. It is applicable to large and small entities. It builds on the learner's previous knowledge and serves multiple sub-fields within forensic science. It provides articulation with a variety of qualifications in the physical sciences, business and policing.
  • Horizontally with the following qualifications:

    > National Certificate: Policing at NQF 5, 20496
    > National Certificate: Resolving of Crime at NQF 5, 49118
    > National Diploma: Bomb Disposal at NQF 5, 49124
    > National Diploma: Policing at NQF 5, 48865
    > National Certificate: Business Management at NQF 5, 22452
  • Vertically with the following qualifications:

    >National Certificate Business Advising Operations at NQF 6, 48967
    > Bachelor Policing Practices at NQF 6, 50194 

  • MODERATION OPTIONS 
  • Anyone assessing a learner or moderating the assessment of a learner against this Qualification must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA.
  • Any institution offering learning that will enable the achievement of this Qualification must be accredited as a provider with the relevant ETQA.
  • Assessment and moderation of assessment will be overseen by the relevant ETQA according to the ETQAs policies and guidelines for assessment and moderation; in terms of agreements reached around assessment and moderation between ETQAs (including professional bodies); and in terms of the moderation guideline detailed immediately below.
  • Moderation must include both internal and external moderation of assessments at exit points of the qualification, unless ETQA policies specify otherwise. Moderation should also encompass achievement of the competence described both in individual unit standards as well as the integrated competence described in the qualification. 

  • CRITERIA FOR THE REGISTRATION OF ASSESSORS 
    For an applicant to register as an assessor, the applicant needs:
  • Registration as an assessor with the relevant ETQA.
  • Assessors must be competent in the outcomes and exit level outcomes of this qualification.
  • Detailed documentary proof of educational qualification, practical training undergone, and experience gained by the applicant must be provided (portfolio of evidence). 

  • REREGISTRATION HISTORY 
    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this qualification was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 

    NOTES 
    This qualification forms the foundation for forensic science education and training in South Africa, and its overriding intention is to formalise forensic science as a scientific discipline within the NQF.

    The South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNSP) was established via the Natural Scientific Professions Act, 2003 (Act 27 of 2003). Currently this act provides for the registration of the following three categories: Professional Natural Scientist (Pr.Sci.Nat.), Candidate Natural Scientist (Cand.Sci.Nat.), and Certificated Natural Scientist (Cert.Sci.Nat.). None of these categories currently include the learner who has earned a one year certificate. However, the registration of individuals at professional bodies is not static and this qualification will assist in professionalising this area of work. 

    UNIT STANDARDS: 
      ID UNIT STANDARD TITLE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL CREDITS
    Core  114589  Manage time productively  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Core  117452  Apply the principles of Law of Evidence in the investigation of crime  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  242707  Assimilate and present specialised evidence in a court of law  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  115855  Create, maintain and update record keeping systems  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  242712  Demonstrate an understanding of forensic science  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  8648  Demonstrate an understanding of professional values and ethics  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  242708  Demonstrate an understanding of the specialised fields in forensic science  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  242716  Demonstrate knowledge of temperature calibration measurements  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  120489  Demonstrate understanding of the criminal justice system  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  242711  Develop elementary calibration systems for reference weights, balances and pipettes  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  114863  Implement basic safety procedures in emergencies  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  110464  Monitor the quality system in the laboratory  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  119038  Preserve evidence on a scene  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  115790  Write and present for a wide range of purposes, audiences and contexts  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  242706  Analyse problems  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  242714  Apply elementary statistical methods  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  15096  Demonstrate an understanding of stress in order to apply strategies to achieve optimal stress levels in personal and work situations  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  117637  Demonstrate an understanding of the composition and dynamics of a creative team.  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  242715  Interpret forensic science information  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  117497  Apply basic business principles  Level 4  NQF Level 04  10 
    Elective  117494  Comply to legal requirements in business  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  114598  Demonstrate an understanding of an entrepreneurial profile  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  120372  Explain fundamentals of project management  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  120079  Provide support to victims of serious violent crime  Level 4  NQF Level 04 
    Elective  115821  Apply business financial practices  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  120483  Conduct preliminary investigations  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  244151  Demonstrate an understanding of firearms in the field of forensic ballistics  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  244160  Demonstrate an understanding of forensic ballistics examination techniques  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  244155  Demonstrate an understanding of forensic chemistry analysis  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Elective  244153  Demonstrate an understanding of forensic drug investigation  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  244149  Demonstrate an understanding of forensic fire investigation  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  244154  Demonstrate an understanding of forensic questioned documents examinations  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Elective  244145  Demonstrate an understanding of forensic trace analysis  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  244146  Demonstrate an understanding of the analytical principles of forensic toxicology investigation  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  242710  Demonstrate an understanding of the evidential value of forensic biology evidence  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  12 
    Elective  244148  Demonstrate an understanding of the evidential value of forensic questioned documents evidence  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Elective  244158  Demonstrate an understanding of the field of fingerprinting  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  244150  Demonstrate an understanding of the field of forensic ballistics  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  242713  Demonstrate an understanding of the field of forensic biology  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  244147  Demonstrate an understanding of the field of forensic questioned documents  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Elective  120479  Demonstrate understanding of community policing  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  120480  Demonstrate understanding of crime prevention  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  120494  Demonstrate understanding of proportionality of force  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  242709  Explain the evidential value of forensic biology examinations  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  12 
    Elective  244156  Explain the role of ammunition in the field of forensic ballistics  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  244152  Explain visual recording of a scene of incidence  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  116488  Justify disclosure or non-disclosure of information in an ethical framework  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  120485  Receive and attend to complaints  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  243253  Reconstruct an incident scene  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  20 


    LEARNING PROGRAMMES RECORDED AGAINST THIS QUALIFICATION: 
     
    NONE 


    PROVIDERS CURRENTLY ACCREDITED TO OFFER THIS QUALIFICATION: 
    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.
     
    1. STRATEGIC INVESTIGATIONS AND SEMINARS 



    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.