Postgraduate study
Crime, Forensic & Investigative Sciences

PgDip/MSc Forensic Science

The PgDip/MSc Forensic Science concentrates on practices, procedures and analytical techniques used within forensic science, and how they are applied in support of the investigation of crime and the criminal justice system as a whole.

Course information

Full-time

  • within 1 year

More full-time details

January 2018 entry

September 2018 entry

Part-time

  • 2 years

More part-time details

January 2018 entry

September 2018 entry

  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800
  • Fee for UK/EU applicants: £561 per 20 credits
    More details about our fees

Contact details

Further information

This course is accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.On completing this course you will be able to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of forensic science and how scientific methods are applied to the investigation of crime. You benefit from our links with practitioners and other professional organisations relevant to the field of forensic science. Key members of staff are former forensic scientists or crime scene scientists with considerable operational experience.Expect to carry out analytical and practical work in the University’s on-campus forensic facilities including specialist analytical laboratories, crime scene house laboratory and forensic chemistry and biology laboratories. Watch a short video and hear what Matthew Grima, a former student, says about this course.

Professional accreditation

The Forensic Science Society This course has been accredited and commended by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences - the international professional body for forensic science.

For the PgDip award you must successfully complete 120 credits of taught modules. For an MSc award you must successfully complete the 120 credits of taught modules and a 60-credit master's research project.

Course structure

PgDip and MSc core modules

Advanced Analytical Techniques

You get an in-depth knowledge of the theory and principles of a range of analytical techniques used when undertaking detailed analyses of biological and chemical materials. You focus on core techniques using chromatography, mass spectrometry and spectroscopy. You study the selection and application of appropriate analytical techniques, in order to formulate strategies to investigate scientific problems.

You study a series of laboratory sessions supported by lectures and tutorials. You are assessed by two laboratory reports (100%).

Forensic Biology

You examine, interpret and evaluate complex biological evidence within casework-related scenarios. Types of evidence include hair and fibres, body fluids, blood pattern analysis and DNA. You also consider the use of microbial, anthropological and odonatological evidence in a forensic context.
Your knowledge, understanding and skills are developed by lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions and self-directed study. You are assessed by an in-course assessment of examination notes and evidential interpretation (30%) and an end assessment (70%).

Forensic Chemistry

You explore theoretical and practical organic and inorganic chemistry relating to forensic science. You focus on key evidence types at scenes of crime or recovered from an individual. You also examine principal types of chemical evidence including particulate evidence (paint, glass, soil), marks evidence (footwear marks, tool marks) and drugs of abuse within the context of an investigation.

You attend lectures, practical and tutorial sessions. You are assessed by a court presentation (30%) and examination (70%).

Forensic Investigative Strategy

You develop an understanding of the principles associated with crime scene science and its relationship with forensic analysis and the legal process. You address key areas in forensic practice such as quality standards, evidence continuity and contamination issues. You also get an understanding of the methodologies used for processing and examination of physical evidence.

Your lectures are supported by a series of practical sessions which include evidence recovery at a mock crime scene and the initial forensic examination of recovered items. You are assessed by a presentation (30%) and a report (70%).

Legal Issues and Evidence Reporting

Forensic evidence of all types plays a major role in the detection of crime and the successful investigation of other types of incident such as road traffic collisions and natural disasters. You explore the legal and procedural contexts in which forensic science operates, providing you with opportunities to develop skills and knowledge for the gathering, examination and presentation of evidence in a range of situations.

You attend a series of keynote lectures, seminars and a practical session in the University’s replica courtroom. You may have an opportunity to visit a local coroner’s office and/or court. You are assessed by a portfolio (30%) and evidence in the form of a written statement and verbal presentation in a simulated courtroom situation (70%).

Research Methods and Proposal

You develop a proposal for your research project, which contains an explanation targeted at both a specialist audience and the general public, details of experimental design and statistical analysis to be employed. You consider the impacts of the proposed work both in the form of academic beneficiaries, economic, environmental and societal impacts. Your project costs are estimated on a full economic costing model. You also include a targeted CV.

You attend a short lecture series at the start of the academic year that will provide an introduction and advice. You are allocated a project area and supervisor and you produce a research proposal for the project. You are supported by a series of meetings with your supervisor and receive feedback on your progress. You acquire ethical clearance from the School Research Ethics Committee.

You are assessed by the successful acquisition of ethical clearance (pass/fail) and submission of a completed research project proposal and supporting CV (100%).

 

MSc only

Research Project

On successful completion of the taught modules in Semester 1 and 2, you proceed to a 60-credit research project.

This project gives you an opportunity to specialise in an area of your choice. Some of our students have had the opportunity to complete their research project on placement with an employer; in recent years these have included the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (now the Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology CAST), Key Forensics Ltd and Forensic Access.

The following are some examples of past student project topics:
• footwear and finger mark enhancement techniques
• body fluid recovery methods and DNA profiling success rates
• analysis of toolmarks in bone.

 

Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

The course provides a number of contact teaching and assessment hours (through lectures, tutorials, projects, assignments and laboratory work).

You are also expected to spend time on your own (this is called self-study time), to review lecture notes, prepare course work assignments, work on projects and revise for assessments.

As an example, each 20-credit module typically has around 200 hours of learning time.

Industrial experience
On this programme you complete a project related to professional practice. This, along with the involvement of practitioners and academics in the delivery of these courses, ensures that they are relevant to the requirements of the criminal justice system.

How you are assessed

Modules are assessed by in-course assignments, including a courtroom-based expert witness assessment and end exams.

Career opportunities

Employment opportunities exist in the field of forensic science and forensic investigation with forensic science providers and law enforcement agencies. Other roles include scientific investigation where the application of science in a legal or regulatory context is important.

This MSc programme has been accredited and commended by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, the international professional body for forensic science.

See the career path of one of our graduates

Entry requirements

Applicants are normally expected to have at least a lower second class (2.2) UK honours degree, or equivalent, in an appropriate science subject. Acceptable subjects include biology, chemistry, biomedical science, biochemistry and forensic science.

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country

Course information

Full-time

  • within 1 year

More full-time details

January 2018 entry

September 2018 entry

Part-time

  • 2 years

More part-time details

January 2018 entry

September 2018 entry

  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800
  • Fee for UK/EU applicants: £561 per 20 credits
    More details about our fees

Contact details

Further information