Essentials of DNA interpretation

March to September 2017

Target audience

Practitioners of forensic genetics – including reporting officers, forensic geneticians, lawyers, accreditation bodies – having a University degree (at least BSc) or an equivalent degree of a higher education programme

The course is given in English. However, exercises, discussions and one-to-one tutorial can be led in English, German or French.


Given by recognized specialists in the field, this on-line course brings the essentials of evidence interpretation applied in the 
administration of justice. It is designed to train practitioners in the most up to date approaches to the evaluation and interpretation of DNA. The content is based on the use of likelihood ratios, an approach that is supported by the International Society of Forensic Genetics, the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes and the Association of Forensic Science Providers. The course lasts 6 months with a workload per week of 3 hours on the online platform and 1.5 to 2 hours of personal work (in total around 150 hours training).

For those wanting to specialize, we also offer the following on-line short courses: Essentials of Bayesian networks in forensic science and Essentials of forensic interpretation.
And, in addition to these two short courses, a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Statistics and the Evaluation of Forensic Evidence is proposed to forensic practioners willing to acquire a comprehensive training (around 470 hours training).


  • To provide practioners with a theoretical and practical background in probabilistic and statistical reasoning without leaving their desk (on-line course)
  • To enable practioners to address challenging DNA casework (e.g. low template DNA, mixtures)
  • To help practioners explain their reasoning in Court and feel at ease with expert debate and the published literature on DNA interpretation


  • Introduction to probabilistic inference in forensic science
    • Laws of probability
    • Hierarchy of propositions and the principles of forensic interpretation
    • Analysing basic inference problems with Bayesian networks (BNs) and BNs software
  • Essential population genetics
    • Assigning match probabilities; multiple propositions
  • Parentage testing and missing persons
    • Solving interpretation challenges with various pedigrees (e.g. half siblings, nephew, children)
  • Mixture analysis
    • Value of evidence calculations when there are several contributors, taking into account population substructure and peak areas
  • Low template level profiles
    • Merits, limitations and potential ways to cope with LT DNA
  • Non autosomal DNA
    • Interpretation of haplotype sequences
  • DNA for investigation
    • Use of DNA for investigation (e.g. familial searching, ethnical inference, exploiting partial profiles) and database search


  • Professor Franco Taroni
  • Professor Christophe Champod
  • Dr Alex Biedermann
  • Dr Tacha Hicks

The instructors have theoretical and practical experience with evaluation and interpretation from laboratory to courtroom. They have published over the years numerous scholarly papers and textbooks on the subjects of evaluation and statistics in forensic science.


  • Prof. Aitken, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Dr Evett, United Kingdom


Faculty of Law, Criminal Justice and Public Administration, University of Lausanne, Switzerland


Certificate of attendance, 5 ECTS

Course venue

On-line course


Send your CV and a duly filled in registration form to Formation Continue UNIL-EPFL.

Course fee: 3’500.- Swiss Francs

Registration deadline: February 3rd, 2017

Alumni testimonials

« I found the course to be an excellent extension of my knowledge and allowed me to challenge my approach to casework by examining different methodologies and tease out the basis for their use. I have been able to use what I have learned both myself, in assisting other staff at my organisation and in teaching. I had reservations about the online environment but my contact with the teaching team was excellent. They had a thorough understanding of current practise and the pressures that go along with it. I would recommend this course to any practitioner who wished to extend their knowledge beyond just being able to do forensic DNA analysis to being able to understand forensic DNA analysis. » Damien Abarno, DNA Database Program Manager, Forensic Science SA

« I have very fond memories of my time on the Essentials of DNA Interpretation course. It was a very important milestone in the development of my DNA Interpretation expertise and it has helped me to obtain career development opportunities. For example, I am currently responsible for the introduction of new DNA Interpretation software at our organisation. The course material and teachers were excellent. » Alan Magee, Forensic Science Ireland

« The Essentials of DNA interpretation course gives an excellent grounding in the fundamentals of DNA interpretation, covering areas which include probabilistic and statistical reasoning, population genetics, mixture analysis, low template DNA, Mt DNA, ySTR, familial and database searching as well as real case studies highlighting issues encountered in court. The course is interactive and is delivered by recognized experts in the area who were very accessible throughout. I would recommend this course to practitioners in the area as a means of updating their knowledge in evaluation and interpretation of DNA evidence. »
Yvonne O’Dowd, Forensic Science Ireland


For academic questions:

For administrative questions:

Ms. Mary-Claire André Mollet