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SOUTH AFRICAN QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY 
REGISTERED UNIT STANDARD: 

Explain the role of ammunition in the field of forensic ballistics 
SAQA US ID UNIT STANDARD TITLE
244156  Explain the role of ammunition in the field of forensic ballistics 
ORIGINATOR
SGB Forensic Science 
PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QUALITY ASSURANCE FUNCTIONARY
-  
FIELD SUBFIELD
Field 08 - Law, Military Science and Security Safety in Society 
ABET BAND UNIT STANDARD TYPE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL CREDITS
Undefined  Regular  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
REGISTRATION STATUS REGISTRATION START DATE REGISTRATION END DATE SAQA DECISION NUMBER
Reregistered  2018-07-01  2023-06-30  SAQA 06120/18 
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 unit standard does not replace any other unit standard and is not replaced by any other unit standard. 

PURPOSE OF THE UNIT STANDARD 
This unit standard is intended for learners who will be required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of ballistics examinations in a forensic science environment. The purpose of ballistic investigations is to individualise or identify types of firearms used in crime or an incidence.

On completion of this unit standard the learner will be able to understand the elementary operational principles of ammunition and have elementary knowledge of the types and classification of ammunition as a basis to understand ballistics examinations for the purpose of forensic investigations. In addition, the learner will also have an understanding of the chemistry of primers and the functioning principles of propellants that are responsible to propel a missile from a firearm.

A person credited with this unit standard will be able to:
  • Classify ammunition types in context of forensic ballistics examinations.
  • Describe cartridge cases in terms of the functioning principles of ammunition.
  • Describe bullets in terms of the functioning principles of ammunition.
  • Explain propellants in terms of firearm technology and thermodynamics. 

  • LEARNING ASSUMED TO BE IN PLACE AND RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING 
  • "Demonstrate an understanding of forensic science", ID 242712.
  • "Demonstrate an understanding of the specialised fields in forensic science", ID 242708.
  • "Demonstrate an understanding of the field of forensic ballistics", ID 244150.
  • Communication at NQF level 4.
  • Mathematics at NQF level 4.
  • Physical Science at NQF level 4. 

  • UNIT STANDARD RANGE 
    N/A 

    Specific Outcomes and Assessment Criteria: 

    SPECIFIC OUTCOME 1 
    Classify ammunition types. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    The development of ammunition types is explained in terms of forensic ballistics examinations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Ammunition types refer to but are not limited to:
  • Paper cartridges, rimfire cartridges, "pinfire" cartridges, handgun ammunition, shotgun cartridges and centre fire cartridges.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Ammunition is divided into three classes for the purpose of ammunition identification. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Three classes refer to rimfire cartridges, centre fire cartridges and shotgun cartridges.
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Rifle ammunition types are described in context to forensic ballistics examinations. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    Handgun ammunition is described in context to forensic ballistics examinations. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 5 
    Ammunition application is explained in terms of its purpose. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 6 
    Cartridge designations are explained in given situations. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Given situations refers to at least ten (10) examples of cartridge designations.
     

    SPECIFIC OUTCOME 2 
    Describe cartridge cases in terms of the functioning principles of ammunition. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    The role of the cartridge case is explained in terms of cartridge firing mechanisms. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Cartridge case components and physical properties are explained according to cartridge case manufacturing processes. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Types of cartridge cases are identified according to manufacture specifications and appearances. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Types of cartridge cases refer to but are not limited to:
  • Straight walled semi-rimmed, straight walled-rimmed, straight walled-rimless, bottle-neck rimmed, rimless bottle-neck, rebated rimless, tapered and belted.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    The use of headstamps in the identification of cartridge cases is explained for purposes of forensic ballistics investigations. 

    SPECIFIC OUTCOME 3 
    Describe bullets in terms of the functioning principles of ammunition. 
    OUTCOME RANGE 
    Bullets refers to jacketed bullets and non-jacketed bullets. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    The role of the bullet is explained in terms of design specifications. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Bullet components and physical properties are explained according to bullet manufacturing processes. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    Bullet shapes are identified according to outside dimensions and appearances. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Bullet shapes refer to but are not limited to:
  • Round nose, spitzer, boat-tailed, soft point, hollow point.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    Bullet crimping is explained in terms of standard bullet crimping methods in cartridge cases. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Bullet crimping methods refer to but are not limited to:
  • Pressing, indenting, coning, canneluring, stabbing and crimping.
     

  • SPECIFIC OUTCOME 4 
    Explain propellants in terms of firearm technology and thermodynamics. 
    OUTCOME RANGE 
    Propellants (gunpowder) refer to but are not limited to:
  • Black powders and smokeless propellants. 

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
     

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 1 
    Gunpowder components are explained as propellants in firearm mechanisms. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Gunpowder refers to but is not limited to:
  • Black powders and smokeless propellants.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 2 
    Characteristics of propellants are explained in terms of burning rates. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Characteristics refer to but are not limited to:
  • Chemical composition, burning characteristics, and physical attributes.
     

  • ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3 
    The chemical changes in gunpowder necessary to propel a projectile are explained in terms of elementary chemistry and thermodynamics principles. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 4 
    The advantages and disadvantages of propellants are explained in terms of gas development and residues. 

    ASSESSMENT CRITERION 5 
    Primers are described in terms of the various types and their abilities to ignite propellants. 
    ASSESSMENT CRITERION RANGE 
    Primers refer to but are not limited to:
  • Boxer, Berdan and battery cup system.
     


  • UNIT STANDARD ACCREDITATION AND MODERATION OPTIONS 
  • Any individual who wishes to be assessed against this unit standard (including assessment of RPL) may apply to an assessment agency, assessor or provider institution accredited by the relevant ETQA, or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA.
  • Anyone assessing a learner against this unit standard must be registered as an assessor with the relevant ETQA, or with an ETQA that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the relevant ETQA. Assessors must be competent in the outcome of the Unit Standard.
  • Any institution offering learning that will enable achievement of this unit standard or assessing this unit standard 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 conducted by the relevant ETQA according to the moderation guidelines in the relevant qualification and the relevant ETQA procedures. 

  • UNIT STANDARD ESSENTIAL EMBEDDED KNOWLEDGE 
  • Current and as amended Section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 51 of 1977) as substituted by Section 11 of the General Law Sixth Amendment Act (Act 204 of 1993).
  • Current and as amended Civil Proceedings Evidence Act (Act 25 of 1965).
  • Current and as amended Section 212(4) (a) of the Criminal Procedure Act (Act 51 of 1977).
  • Current and as amended Inquests Act (Act 58 of 1959).
  • Current and as amended Arms and Ammunition Act (Act 75 of 1969).
  • Current and as amended Dangerous Weapons Act (Act 71 of 1968) and Arms and Ammunition Act (Act 75 of 1969).
  • Current and as amended Firearms Control Act (Act 60 of 2000).
  • Explosives Act (Act 26 of 1956).
  • Current relevant occupational health and safety legislation. 

  • UNIT STANDARD DEVELOPMENTAL OUTCOME 
    N/A 

    UNIT STANDARD LINKAGES 
    N/A 


    Critical Cross-field Outcomes (CCFO): 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO IDENTIFYING 
    Identify and solve problems in which responses display that responsible decisions, using critical thinking, have been made. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO WORKING 
    Work effectively with others as a member of a team, group, organisation or community. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO ORGANISING 
    Organise and manage oneself and one's activities responsibly and effectively. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO COLLECTING 
    Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO COMMUNICATING 
    Communicate effectively using visual, mathematical, and/or language skills in the modes of written and/or oral presentation. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO SCIENCE 
    Use science and technology effectively and critically, show responsibility towards the environment and the health of others. 

    UNIT STANDARD CCFO DEMONSTRATING 
    Demonstrate an understanding of the world as a set of related systems by recognising that problem-solving contexts do not exist in isolation. 

    UNIT STANDARD ASSESSOR CRITERIA 
    N/A 

    REREGISTRATION HISTORY 
    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this unit standard was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 

    UNIT STANDARD NOTES 
    Glossary of Terminology:

    Forensic ballistics refers to the following five fields:
  • Internal ballistics.
  • External ballistics.
  • Intermediate ballistics.
  • Terminal ballistics.
  • Tool marks.
  • Blackpowder: Blackpowder is a mixture of potassium nitrate, sulphur and charcoal.
  • Bullet crimping: The inward shaping of the mouth of a cartridge case or shotshell to secure the projectile(s) in same. Crimps are categorized as follows: roll, star, fold, stab, semi-circular or split ring, rose and possibly others. Crimps have also been used to retain primers in primer pockets. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Calibre: A numerical term, without the decimal point, included in a cartridge name to indicate the nominal bullet diameter. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Cartridge case: Ammunition case that refers to the case and the primer.
  • Headstamp: The manufacturer imprint on the base of the cartridge to indicate the cailbre and manufacturer's name. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • Jacketed bullets: A metallic cover over the bullet core. (AFTE Glossary, 2001).
  • "Pinfire" cartridges: An early form of complete, self-contained cartridge. It included bullet, powder and ignition primer, all in one package. The primer was located towards the base of the cartridge, but completely internally. The pin, shaped like a little finishing nail, pointed on the inside end and resting on the internal primer, projected radially about a quarter-inch to the outside of the base of the cartridge.
  • Paper cartridges: A single unit of ammunition consisting of the case (manufactured partially or entirely from paper), primer, and propellant with one or more projectile(s).
  • Primer: A primer ignites a propellant that will project a missile from a weapon.
  • Propellant: Mixtures of chemicals which will propel a missile form a weapon on ignition.
  • Smokeless propellants: A propellant containing mainly nitrocellulose (single base) or both nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin (double base). (AFTE Glossary, 2001).

    List of Abbreviations:
  • AFTE: Association of Firearm and Tool mark Examiners. 

  • QUALIFICATIONS UTILISING THIS UNIT STANDARD: 
      ID QUALIFICATION TITLE PRE-2009 NQF LEVEL NQF LEVEL STATUS END DATE PRIMARY OR DELEGATED QA FUNCTIONARY
    Elective  57651   National Certificate: Forensic Science  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  Reregistered  2023-06-30  SAS SETA 


    PROVIDERS CURRENTLY ACCREDITED TO OFFER THIS UNIT STANDARD: 
    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.
     
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    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.