Essentials of DNA interpretation

February  to September 2015

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:  January 12th, 2015


For academic questions:

For administrative questions:

Ms. Mary-Claire André Mollet