This topic starts by looking at how forensic pathologists use a wide variety of analytical techniques to determine identity and the time and cause of death of an organism, including humans. It then considers how bacteria and viruses use a variety of routes into their hosts and how hosts have evolved barriers and internal mechanisms to combat infections. These protections are not always successful and many people in the world still die from infectious diseases. This topic also investigates the evolutionary battles that take place between invading pathogens and their hosts. The topic ends by looking at hospital acquired infections, their prevention and control.
Students should be encouraged to carry out a range of practical experiments related to this topic in order to develop their practical skills. In addition to the core practicals detailed below, possible experiments include amplification of DNA using the polymerase chain reaction, and staining of bacteria.
Opportunities for developing mathematical skills within this topic include calculating areas of circumferences and areas of circles, surface areas and volumes of cylinders; using calculators to find and use power, exponential and logarithmic functions, and recognising and using expressions in decimal and standard form.