Rachel Bolton-King

Visiting Fellow

Health, Education, Policing and Sciences

I graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Forensic Science in 2008 (Nottingham Trent University) and was awarded my EPSRC funded Doctorate in Forensic Firearms Identification and Imaging (Nottingham Trent University) in June 2012. After lecturing part-time at Nottingham Trent University, I started my lectureship at Staffordshire University in October 2011 and gained my Associate Professorship in September 2017. Since 2011 I have had the pleasure of being an invited speaker and guest lecturer at numerous higher education institutions, organisations and conferences in Europe and Internationally (see ‘Selected Publications’ section). Such invitations are typically due to my subject expertise in firearms and ballistics, however, I also have a keen interest in working with professional bodies such as the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSFS) to support practitioners in developing and demonstrating competence in their field and facilitating research across a range of forensic disciplines. This involved developing CSFS’ Certificates of Competence and their Pre-Employment Assessment of Competence (PEAC), for which I am an approved Assessor. The PEAC are taken by those seeking to demonstrate essential competences prior to starting a career in a forensic laboratory or as crime scene investigator.

My research interests (see below) primarily lie in expanding the scientific underpinning of firearms investigation through collaborative projects with forensic laboratories worldwide and I lead a growing international research group with Masters and 5 PhD students, the majority of whom are international forensic practitioners. I am also actively engaged with research conducted by the Centre of Archaeology, for example the examination and interpretation of graffiti during the Nazi Occupation of Alderney. Previously, I have conducted research in the chemical analysis of illicit drugs and detection of prohibited compounds in sport. My research experience and training enables me to be appointed as both internal and external examiner for MRes and PhD viva voce. My passion for improving research in the justice system has led me to co-develop a new open access, international repository to disseminate undergraduate and postgraduate research outputs and develop a multi-disciplinary justice research toolkit for students, researchers, academics and professionals. This online community also aims to increase international research collaboration and networking and further information can be found on the Research4Justice website.

Alongside my teaching responsibilities (listed below) I have a passion to use innovative practice to improve the student experience through technology enhanced learning, research informed teaching and learner analytics. In recognition of this I was awarded a Teaching Excellence Fellowship in 2016 and I am actively involved with facilitating student-led initiatives in the Criminal Justice and Forensic Science (CJF) Department. Such initiatives include the student Society and the annual Student Research Conference, of which the latter is integrated into the core teaching curriculum at Level 4 across a range of CJF courses. Through my role leading the Forensic Intelligence and Knowledge Bank Work Stream at Staffordshire Forensic Partnership I actively get students, academics and practitioners to collaboratively engage with forensic research, development and knowledge sharing. Such activities include the delivery of additional specialised short courses both within and external to the university.

Professional memberships and activities

  • Technical Advisor for Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners
  • Member of the Chartered Society for Forensic Sciences
  • Associate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy

Board Membership:

  • Editorial Board Member for E-Cronicon’s journal, Forensic Science
  • Advisory Board Member for Annex Publisher’s Journal of Forensic Science & Criminology

External Assessor:

  • External examiner for Manchester Metropolitan University, 2017 - present
  • External examiner for PhD and MRes, 2017 – present
  • Approved assessor of the CSFS’ PEAC, 2015 – present

European and International Invited Speaker and Lecturing:

  • Invited panel member for Launch Event of The Centre for the Reduction of Firearms Crime, Trafficking & Terrorism, Northampton, February 2018.
  • ERASMUS+ Staff Exchange at Avans University, The Netherlands, 2014 – present
  • Invited speaker at the National Police Chiefs Council Meeting, Wigfield, July 2017.
  • Organiser, presenter and workshop chair at the Research4Justice (previously ForSci) JISC Development Workshop, Manchester, June 2017.
  • Invited speaker for Grand Rounds at Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Criminalistics Laboratory, Fort Worth, USA, June 2015
  • Invited speaker at Nottingham Trent University, UK, 2014 – present
  • Guest lecturer at Improve International, Swindon, August 2014
  • Invited speaker & lecturer at University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma, USA, September 2013
  • Invited lecturer at De Montfort University, July 2011

Academic qualifications

  • Postgraduate Certificate of CPD in Research Supervision, Staffordshire University, 2014
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher and Professional Education, Staffordshire University, 2013
  • PhD in Forensic Firearms Identification and Imaging, Nottingham Trent University, 2012
  • Diploma in Professional Practice, Nottingham Trent University, 2008
  • BSc (Hons) Forensic Science, Nottingham Trent University, 2008


  • Manufacturing and identification of firearms and ammunition
  • Non-destructive examination of corroded firearms & ammunition
  • Forensic firearm identification
  • Ballistics imaging
  • Shooting incident reconstruction

Research interests

Current research projects include:

  • Maximising forensic intelligence from firearms related crime scenes, particularly shotgun incidents;
  • Differentiating and identifying shotgun ammunition brands and lines through the examination of fired shotgun ammunition components;
  • Non-destructive (x-ray) examination of firearms and ammunition for security, archaeological, historical and/or forensic purposes e.g. following water submersion or burial;
  • Enhancing forensic firearm identification using 3D imaging technologies;
  • Investigating the impact of ammunition and firearm component manufacturing techniques on forensic firearm identification;
  • Identifying a clandestine manufacturing source through the classification and differentiation of barrel rifling profiles.

Enterprise and commercial interests


  • Lead for Research4Justice, an international, open access repository for justice system related student research outputs and justice research toolkit;
  • Development of bespoke short courses in forensic firearm identification, ballistics and GSR analysis designed for students, graduates and professionals;
  • Research & development of ‘Forensic Intelligence and Knowledge Bank’ based products for Staffordshire Forensic Partnership;
  • Development of an educational and interactive 3-day forensic science programme with Walesby Forest Outdoor Adventure Centre for primary, secondary and college pupils funded by a European grant with Nottingham University in 2010.



  • Introduction to Forensic Science (module leader);
  • Crime Scene Investigation (module leader);
  • Techniques of Scientific Investigation;
  • Chemical Principles of Forensic Science;
  • Policing Science;
  • Methods of Crime Detection;
  • Forensic Investigative Skills;
  • Analysis and Investigation of TEREFF Incidents;
  • Specialist Topics in Forensic Investigation (Firearms, Ballistics & GSR);
  • Supervisor of Independent Research Projects (BSc);
  • Supervisor of Research Assistantships (MSci);
  • Supervisor of Placements (BSc/MSci).


  • Practical Support 1 (Firearms);
  • Firearms, Fires & Explosives (Firearms);
  • Independent research projects (MSc);
  • Primary and secondary supervisor (PhD).



  • Bolton-King, R.S. (2017). ‘Section 18: Weapons’ in ‘Crime Scene Handbook’, UK: WA Products;
  • Bolton-King, R.S. & Schulze, J. (2016). ‘Chapter 7 - Crime Scene Evidence: Firearms and Ballistics’ in Bailey, D. (ed.), ‘Practical Veterinary Forensics’, UK: CABI.
  • Bolton-King, R.S. (2017). ‘Rifling Methods of Factory Fitted 9 mm Luger (9 x 19 mm) Pistol Barrels: A Reference Resource’, AFTE Journal, 49, 4, pp 221-234;
  • Bolton-King, R.S. (2017). Reprint of ‘Preventing Miscarriages of Justice: Forensic Firearm Identification’, AFTE Journal, 49, 3, pp 162-182;
  • Bolton-King, R.S. (2016). ‘Preventing Miscarriages of Justice: Forensic Firearm Identification’, Science & Justice, 56, 2, pp 129-142;
  • Bolton-King, R.S. & Jackson, A. (2014). ‘Personal Competency Testing in Firearms-Related Forensic Disciplines: A UK Study’, CSEye, 1 (online);
  • Bolton-King, R.S. (2013). ‘Widening Participation: Are we Prepared for our Students?’, Innovative Practice in Higher Education Journal, 1, 3 (online).
  • Bolton-King, R.S., et al. (2012). ‘Numerical Classification of Curvilinear Structures for the Identification of Pistol Barrels’, Forensic Science International, July, 220, 1-3, pp. 197 – 209.
  • Bolton-King, R.S., et al. (2012). ‘Manufacturing of 9 x 19 mm SIG Sauer Pistols’ AFTE Journal, Winter, 44, 1, pp 19 – 28.
  • Bolton-King, R.S., et al. (2010). ‘What are the Prospects of 3D Profiling Systems applied to Firearms and Toolmark Identification?’, AFTE Journal, Winter, 42, 1, pp 23 – 33;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., et al. (2010). ‘An Evaluation of Ballistic Imaging Techniques’, The Forensic Technology Review, pp 6 – 12 (online).

Oral conference presentations:

  • Bolton-King, R.S., June 2018, ‘Research4Justice – Launch and Demonstration’, FIT-IN Research Symposium, Birmingham, UK.
  • Bolton-King, R.S., May 2018, ‘Research4Justice: Impact for Student Research’, Staff Research Conference, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.
  • Bolton-King, R.S., ‘Inspiring Interdisciplinary Collaborations through Forensic Ballistics’, Staff Research Conference, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.
  • Bolton-King, R.S., May 2017, ‘Getting Started in Research’, Staff Research Conference, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.
  • Bolton-King, R.S., June 2017, ‘Improving Graduate Employability Through Mentoring’, Teaching & Learning Conference, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.
  • Bolton-King, R.S., June 2017, ‘Jorum Experience, Repository as a Resource’, ForSci Development Workshop, Birmingham, UK.
  • Bolton-King, R.S., April 2017, workshop – ‘Learner Analytics Dashboard for Course Leaders, Personal Tutors & Students’, Teaching Excellence Showcasing Event, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.
  • Bolton-King, R.S., December 2016, workshop - ‘Firearm Examiner Competence using 3D Imaging Technology’, Centre of Forensic Sciences Forensic Firearms Symposium, Toronto, Canada.
  • Bolton-King, R.S., July 2016, ‘Moving Towards Individualised Learner Experiences through Data Analytics’, Teaching & Learning Conference, Stoke-on-Trent, UK;
  • Bolton-King, R.S, July 2016, ‘Peer-Mentoring to Improve Forensic Graduate Employability Skills‘, FORREST Conference, Glasgow, Scotland;
  • Sturdy Colls, C., Colls, K., Bolton-King, R.S., Harris, T. & Weston, C., September 2015, ‘‘‘Harry was here 1945”: Graffiti and the Nazi Occupation of Alderney’, 21st Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, Glasgow, UK;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., October 2015, workshop - ‘Firearm Examiner Competence using 3D Imaging Technology’, Interpol Firearm Forensic Symposium (IFFS), Singapore;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., September 2014, ‘Certificates of Professional Competence in Firearms Related Disciplines’, CSoFS and ENFSI Conference, Leeds, UK;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., July 2014, invited speaker - ‘Corroded Firearms: The Non-Destructive Approach’, International Crime Science Conference, London, UK;
  • Bolton-King, R.S. & Walton, L.M., November 2013, ‘A Student-Led Initiative to Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Employability within the Forensic and Crime Science Area’, Science in Society Conference, Warsaw, Poland;
  • Bolton-King, R.S. & Walton, L.M., June 2013, ‘A Student-Led Initiative to Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Employability within the Forensic and Crime Science Area’, FORREST Conference, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge;
  • Bolton-King, R.S. & Walton, L.M., April 2013, ‘Student-Led Approach to Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Employability’, HEA STEM: Annual Teaching & Learning Conference, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., June 2012, ‘What’s Inside your Firearm?’, FSSoc Firearms Conference: A Time to Take Stock, National Firearms Centre, Leeds, UK;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., September 2011, ‘Pistol Barrel Discrimination: A Numerical Analysis’, IAFS Conference, Madeira, Portugal;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., June 2011, ‘Pistol Barrel Discrimination: A Numerical Analysis’, FORREST Conference, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., May 2011, ‘Pistol Barrel Discrimination: A Numerical Analysis’, AFTE Training Seminar, Chicago, USA.


  • Bolton-King, R.S., et al., August 2018, ‘Research4Justice: An International, Open Access Research Database’, 8th European Academy of Forensic Science Conference, Lyon, France;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., November 2013, ‘Certificates of Competence in the Firearms Community’, Work Force Development Conference, Stoke-on-Trent, UK;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., et al., June 2010, ‘Evaluation of 3D Ballistic Imaging Techniques’, Forensic Science Society Firearms Conference, Leeds, UK;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., et al., May 2010, ‘Evaluation of 3D Ballistic Imaging Techniques’, AFTE Training Seminar, Las Vegas, USA;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., et al., May 2010, ‘Evaluation of 3D Ballistic Imaging Techniques’, Forensic Institute Research Network (FIRN) Regional Student Conference, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK;
  • Bolton-King, R.S., et al., April 2010, ‘Evaluation of 3D Ballistic Imaging Techniques’, Forensic Research and Teaching (FORREST) Conference, Coventry University, Coventry, UK.
in the UK for Quality Education

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of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

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