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SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY 
REGISTERED QUALIFICATION: 

National Certificate: Forensic Biology 
SAQA QUAL ID QUALIFICATION TITLE
57977  National Certificate: Forensic Biology 
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  121  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  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:

This qualification will formalize a learning pathway in the field of forensic biology, and will assist in setting the standard of competence required for entrance into this professional field.

Moreover, it will allow other professions that are linked to forensic science the opportunity to obtain knowledge of this specific field and its multiple sub-fields. The qualification will be a vehicle of transformation within the forensic biology sector.

Qualifying learners will be equipped with the underpinning detailed knowledge in forensic science required to examine forensic exhibit material. This will support the learner to understand the principles required for performing forensic examinations and analyses. They will be able to specialise in fields of forensic science such as performing DNA analyses or entomology or forensic anthropology or hair comparisons. The learners will be equipped to explain findings contested which are based on the underlying principles used in forensic molecular biology.

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 be able to work as a forensic examiner and operate within a laboratory to analyse forensic evidence in order to determine its evidential value for a specific case. 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 law enforcement. 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, justify and implement solutions for problems that traverse the different specialised fields within forensic science.

Qualifying learners will be able to:
  • Apply current legislation, regulations, standards and ethics in performing forensic examinations.
  • Apply scientific principles in forensic biological examinations.
  • Gather, preserve and present evidence and information in support of forensic examinations.
  • Perform forensic examination on exhibit material.

    In addition to the above a learner will be able to specialize in one of the following three learning areas:
  • DNA analyses.
  • Hair Comparisons.
  • Facial Reconstruction.
  • Entomology.

    Rationale:

    The challenges of safety in society are multi-levelled and complex, especially in the forensic scientific arena. Forensic science plays an important role in the South African judicial system and therefore has to be developed to its full potential. It has to fulfill its role as a specialized 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 the judiciary that forensic science has much to offer South Africa.

    The sector of forensic science requires skilled persons to deliver on the increasing demand for competencies within this sector. The forensic science sector is a diverse sector with many areas of specialization. This qualification addresses the demand within the specialization area of forensic biology. Forensic biology is used primarily within the field of law enforcement and also within certain health related environments. The sector demands highly skilled and knowledgeable persons who have extensive knowledge of biology as used within forensic examinations. This theoretical knowledge must be applied within the practical field of forensic science.

    Physical evidence collection is of the utmost importance and has an influence on judicial and legal processes. In the field of forensic biology forensic, examiners are required to examine exhibit material and make findings for the judicial process. Biological evidence may exonerate a person thought to be involved in a scene or may place them as being present. This qualification will enable learners to work and function within the forensic biological environment.

    A national objective is to develop a competent professional group of personnel to perform forensic science examinations and make findings which will assist the courts of law to exonerate the innocent or successfully prosecute the guilty. The qualification will allow the forensic science fraternity to provide a more effective service that will improve community satisfaction and position them to fulfil their mission of creating a safe and service environment for all who live in South Africa. 

  • LEARNING ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE AND RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING 
  • Computer Literacy at NQF Level 3.

    Recognition of Prior Learning:

    This qualification may be obtained through the 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.

    Learners who have met the requirements of any unit standard in this Qualification may be assessed against the assessment criteria and specific outcomes for the relevant unit standard/s. Evidence for Recognition of Prior Learning can be presented in various ways, including international and/or previous local qualifications, products, reports, testimonials mentioning functions performed, work records, portfolios, videos of practice and performance records.

    Access to the qualification:

    FETC at NQF Level 4 or equivalent.

    It is preferable that the learner has completed the National Certificate: Forensic Science at NQF Level 5 or a BSc in Molecular Biology.

    Learners with certain physical disabilities, such as colour blindness, may not be able to successfully complete this qualification, because some of the forensic science techniques require the learner to make distinctions between different colours. 

  • RECOGNISE PREVIOUS LEARNING? 

    QUALIFICATION RULES 
    Fundamental:
  • Learners are required to achieve all 20 credits in the Fundamental Component.

    Core:
  • Learners are required to achieve all 51 credits in the Core Component.

    Elective:
  • The Elective unit standard category is open ended to allow the learner to choose the credits associated to the Elective unit standards from any discipline that would add value to the purpose of the qualification or the learners own development on a learning pathway within the sector.
  • Learners must achieve at least 50 credits from the Elective Component of the qualification.
  • Learners must choose at least one Elective specialization. All unit standards within that specialization must be completed. The remaining credits must be chosen from the set of general Elective standards.

    Blood spatter patterns specialization:

    > 243245: "Evaluate bloodstain pattern evidence", Level 6, 5 Credits.
    > 243243: "Justify the quality of collected bloodstain pattern evidence", Level 6, 10 Credits.
    > 243257: "Reconstruct events using bloodstain pattern analysis", Level 7, 10 Credits.
    > 243246: "Perform blood spatter pattern analysis", Level 6, 5 Credits.

    Facial reconstruction specialization:

    > 243250: "Perform facial reconstructions", Level 6, 15 Credits.
    > 243254: "Perform forensic anthropology examinations", Level 6, 15 Credits.
    > 243258: "Perform forensic art", Level 6, 10 Credits.

    Forensic Entomology specialization:

    > 243248: "Apply entomological principles in forensic investigations", Level 6, 10 Credits.

    Hair specialization:

    > 243247: "Perform forensic microscopic identification and individualisation of hair", Level 6, 20 Credits.

    DNA specialization:

    > 243255: "Demonstrate knowledge of forensic DNA typing", Level 6, 10 Credits.
    > 243256: "Isolate DNA", Level 6, 10 Credits.
    > 243249: "Quantify DNA Isolates", Level 6, 15 Credits.
    > 243244: "Amplify DNA with the polymerase chain reaction", Level 6, 10 Credits.
    > 243259: "Separate DNA fragments", Level 6, 13 Credits.
    and one of the following:
    > 243251: "Evaluate quality of DNA data", Level 6, 5 Credits.
    or
    > 243252: "Interpret DNA results from a statistical perspective", Level 6, 10 Credits. 

  • EXIT LEVEL OUTCOMES 
    1. Apply current legislation, regulations, standards and ethics in performing forensic biological examinations.

    2. Apply scientific principles in forensic biological examinations.

    3. Gather, preserve and present evidence and information in support of forensic biological examinations.

    4. Perform forensic biological examination on exhibit material.

    Critical Cross-Field Outcomes:
  • Problem solving is covered in that a learner must be able to identify procedures to be followed when performing forensic biological examinations.
  • Working in a team is covered in that a learner must recognise that he or she is required to work as part of a team during all phases when performing forensic biology examinations.
  • Self management in that the learner is responsible for organising and managing him/herself when carrying out his/her responsibilities in performing forensic biology examinations.
  • Learners are required to collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information in relation to the collection of information around performing forensic biology examinations.
  • Learners are required to communicate with all role players science examination using a variety of communication methods.
  • Learners are required to use science and technology through the examination of exhibit material and performing forensic biology examinations.
  • Learners are required to see the world as a set of related systems in that, their conduct and decisions whilst performing forensic science examinations have an impact on others in the working environment.
  • Contribute to the full personal development of the learner that in order to participate as responsible citizens in the community the learner is mindful of cultural and religious sensitivities in performing forensic biology examinations. 

  • ASSOCIATED ASSESSMENT CRITERIA 
    1:
  • Information required in forensic biological examinations is communicated to role players within legal prescripts.
  • Confidentiality is maintained when communicating in an forensic pathology support environment.
  • Laboratory information management systems are utilised to ensure that the integrity of the chain of custody is maintained.
  • National Quality Assurance Standards are applied within the forensic biology field.
    > Range: Standards refer to the current SA National Accreditation System standards.
  • Legal prescripts pertaining to forensic biological examinations is applied in forensic biological examinations.

    2:
  • Laboratory practices are applied within a forensic biological examination.
  • Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) principles are applied to ensure compliance with legal prescripts.
  • Environmental practices are applied in forensic biological examinations.
  • The mandate of forensic biological examinations is established within given specifications.
  • The result of a finding is justified by verifying the use and maintenance of equipment, the techniques used and the selected procedures followed.

    3:
  • The integrity of the chain of custody and exhibit material is confirmed for use in the criminal justice process.
  • Findings, results and procedures used are reviewed for consistency.
  • Evidence is assimilated and presented in a court of law.

    4:
  • Biological examinations are performed on exhibit material in order to provide results for interpretation.
  • Results from forensic biological examinations are interpreted in order to make a finding for a court of law.
  • Processing of evidential material is performed in accordance with legal prescripts.

    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 
    This qualification was compared to courses presented in Europe, North America, South America and Africa on the basis of their content and the respective aspects or fields addressed. Currently Europe and North America are regarded as the leaders within the field of forensic biology. A comparison was also done with developing continents such as Africa and South America.
  • North America:

    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 pre-trial 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 proposed National Certificate: Forensic Science Qualification (NQF5) in separate unit standards. The proposed National Certificate: Forensic Biology (NQF6) builds on the core elements, at higher levels of competency, of the above forensic science curriculum by integrating them in various unit standards to ensure that these competencies support the specialized forensic science examinations.

    Furthermore, after the above criteria are addressed, training/ learning programmes then focus on specialized examinations of forensic science. The elective component of the proposed National Certificate: Forensic Biology (NQF6) addresses the specialized forensic examinations.

    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.
  • 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. The electives components of the National Certificate: Forensic Biology level 6 such as the DNA elective unit standard cluster reflects most of the competencies fond in Europe as the unit standards reflect internationally accepted standards, techniques and equipment.
  • 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 this qualification, the training programmes in Chile also address the formative and holistic development of the learner (such as conduct research and presenting evidence in a court). 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 examinations.
  • Africa:

    No formal forensic science education and training currently 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 meeting determined that no forensic science education and training programs existed in Africa. All the countries in attendance indicated a need for a qualification in forensic biology. The National Certificate Forensic Biology qualification could therefore be used as a benchmark for entry level Forensic Science qualifications and the proposed National Diploma Forensic Science qualification (NQF6) for specialization in the field of forensic science and as chosen by the learner from the electives.

    The proposed qualification was consulted at a session held at the 1st African Forensic Science Conference. The qualification features internationally articulation at the first degree level or as a post graduate diploma or at some countries elements thereof are addressed in a Master of Science degree together with a research dissertation. 

  • ARTICULATION OPTIONS 
    This qualification articulates horizontally with:
  • BSc Degree: Molecular Biology.

    This qualification articulates vertically with:
  • BSc Honours Degree: Molecular Biology.
  • BTech: Biology. 

  • MODERATION OPTIONS 
  • Anyone assessing a learner or moderating the assessment of a learner against this Qualification must be registered as an assessor with an appropriate Education, Training, and Quality Assurance (ETQA) Body or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding 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 or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA. Moderation of assessment will be overseen by the relevant ETQA or by an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA, according to the ETQA's policies and guidelines for assessment and moderation.
  • 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 in the exit level outcomes described in the qualification. 

  • CRITERIA FOR THE REGISTRATION OF ASSESSORS 
    For an applicant to register as an assessor, the applicant needs:
  • Well-developed interpersonal skills, subject matter and assessment experience.
  • To be competent in the planning and conducting assessment of learning outcomes as described in the unit standards Conduct Outcomes-based assessment at NQF Level 5.
  • Well-developed subject matter expertise within forensic biology.
  • Competent in the exit level outcomes of this qualification.
  • To be registered with the relevant Education and Training Quality Assurance Body.
  • 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 
    N/A 

    UNIT STANDARDS: 
      ID UNIT STANDARD TITLE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL CREDITS
    Core  114301  Optimise laboratory activities  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  16 
    Core  243260  Audit and review forensic findings  Level 7  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L7 
    Core  117434  Conduct research  Level 7  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L7  15 
    Core  117435  Provide expert evidence in court  Level 7  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L7  15 
    Fundamental  243253  Reconstruct an incident scene  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  20 
    Elective  243244  Amplify DNA with the polymerase chain reaction  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  10 
    Elective  243248  Apply entomological principles in forensic investigations  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  10 
    Elective  243255  Demonstrate knowledge of forensic DNA typing  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  10 
    Elective  243245  Evaluate bloodstain pattern evidence  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6 
    Elective  243251  Evaluate quality of DNA data  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6 
    Elective  243252  Interpret DNA results from a statistical perspective  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  10 
    Elective  243256  Isolate DNA  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  10 
    Elective  243243  Justify the quality of collected bloodstain pattern evidence  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  10 
    Elective  243246  Perform bloodstain spatter pattern analysis  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6 
    Elective  243250  Perform facial reconstructions  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  15 
    Elective  243254  Perform forensic anthropology examinations  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  15 
    Elective  243258  Perform forensic art  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  10 
    Elective  243247  Perform forensic microscopic identification and individualisation of hair  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  20 
    Elective  243249  Quantify DNA Isolates  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  15 
    Elective  243259  Separate DNA fragments  Level 6  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L6  13 
    Elective  243257  Reconstruct events using bloodstain pattern analysis  Level 7  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L7  10 


    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.