This project will explore evidence-based proof and decision-making processes in law, especially the criminal justice system. Epistemological inquiries into the inferential structure and status of forensic fact-finding continue to be a hotly debated topic, with real world applications. It is relevant that the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee (in its 2019 report ‘Forensic science and the criminal justice system: a blueprint for change) reiterated that there continue to be significant “failings in the use of forensic science in the criminal justice system”. One of the reasons suggested for such seemingly intractable failure, is an “insufficient level of research and development”, and in particular, a lack of theory underpinning forensic sciences and decision-making processes in law, especially in the criminal justice system.
In recent years both legal and forensic scholars have attempted to build a communication platform and enable smooth exchange of information between the criminal justice system and (forensic) science. The research project will focus on and critically expose the persisting conceptual emergencies regarding the nature and foundations of expert evidence, and the ambiguity concerning the respective areas of responsibility of fact-finders and experts. It will look into traditional dichotomies, such as asking whether particular evidence lies ‘within or outside’ laypeople’s knowledge, and examine whether these map well onto the multi-layered structure of evidential contexts. The project will investigate under which circumstances, and to what extent fact-finders can cede their decision-making prerogative by allowing forensic experts to settle legal issues. The project, therefore, will need to investigate both jurisprudential and empirical (forensic) aspects of expert witness testimony and gain a cross-disciplinary understanding of the law of evidence especially Evidence & Proof.
This project is supervised by Dr Kyriakos N. Kotsoglou.
Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see: https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/research/postgraduate-research-degrees/how-to-apply/
Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.
A. Biedermann / K.N. Kotsoglou, Decisional Dimensions in Expert Witness Testimony – A Structural Analysis, in: 9 Front. Psychol. (2018), Article 2073, doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02073.