Undergraduate study
Forensic Science

BSc (Hons) Forensic Science

UCAS code: F412 BSc/FS

This BSc (Hons) Forensic Science degree course at Teesside University is multi-disciplinary. In addition to learning the vital skills relevant to a forensic scientist, you develop an in-depth understanding of key biology and chemistry subjects such as biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, toxicology and analytical chemistry.

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 years with work placement)

More full-time details

Part-time

  • 6 years if entering in Year 1, 4 years if entering in Year 2

More part-time details

  • Timetable governed - please contact our admissions office
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800

Contact details

Further information

Potential careers include work related to crime and forensic investigation, forensic science, forensic anthropology, analytical chemistry, pharmaceuticals and teaching to name just a few.

Taking criminal investigation as an example, fragments of glass, paint flakes, fibres, footwear marks or DNA extracted from body fluids can help provide evidence to link individuals with each other or with the scene of a crime. The challenge is deciding which samples to examine and how to obtain the best evidential value by analysing and interpreting them. On this course you develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to meet these challenges. You gain hands-on experience in well-equipped laboratories where you use an array of scientific and analytical techniques commonly used to investigate a crime, examine items and recover evidence. You also practice delivering your expert testimony in our on-campus replica courtroom.

Starting salaries for graduate forensic scientists are around £20,000, increasing to £45,000+ when a senior level is reached (prospects.ac.uk, 2015).

Professional accreditation

The Forensic Science Society This course is accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Anatomy and Physiology

This module provides you with a basic knowledge of human anatomy and develops your ability to relate this knowledge to the mechanisms associated with controlling and regulating physiological processes of the major organs of the body. This module develops contexts of applied knowledge such as constructing biological profiles for human identification including sex, age at death, stature determination and biological affinity.

Biochemistry and Chemical Science

Biochemistry, the study of the chemistry of life, is one of the most important and exciting areas of science. It spans areas including biomedical science, nutrition, drug design, forensic science, agriculture and manufacturing. It covers the most important principles of biochemistry including the structure of the atom, chemical bonding and the forces that operate between molecules, chemical reactions and biological pathways. You study the chemistry of carbon and why it is capable of forming the complex 3D modules that make life possible. And you study important groups of biological molecules in detail including proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids.

Cell Biology and Microbiology

The cellular basis of all living organisms is one of the characteristics which defines life. This module explores the common features and the immense diversity of form and function displayed by cells of organisms. The module will increase your understanding of biological processes at the cellular level. It covers the structure and function of major cellular components and examines how fundamental processes within cells are organised and regulated, such as gene and protein expression. It also addresses the mechanisms by which cells divide, reproduce and differentiate. You study the historical development of cell biology and microbiology advances in theoretical and practical aspects of the discipline. You explore how knowledge of the biology of microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses, has informed the identification and control of infectious diseases. You also examine the beneficial roles of many microorganisms and their utilisation in genetic engineering and biotechnology.

Core Skills in Forensic and Scene Science

Knowledge of the degree subject is not the only thing you learn whilst at university and it’s not the only thing that potential employers are looking for after graduation. You develop a range of skills applicable in all walks of life. These include your ability to communicate clearly and effectively to different audiences, verbally and in writing, to make an effective contribution as a member of a team, to work independently or on your own initiative when required, to tackle problems where you don’t have all the necessary knowledge. You learn to locate information and datasets, and assess its usefulness making efficient and effective use of the latest information technologies to communicate your findings. You also learn to assess your own performance – this gives you the chance to recognise and build on your strengths, and identify and improve your weaknesses.

This module is part of a series running throughout your studies – you develop key skills which are assessed through a series of activities where you also learn about key aspects of your chosen subject. This module introduces you, as a science student, to basic principles and good practice in collecting, recording and evaluating data, and using information resources and referencing. You consider the assessment and handling of scientific errors. The module covers a range of basic mathematical skills and introduces you to statistical methods that are essential in a range of scientific endeavour. We emphasise the use of spreadsheets for data recording, presentation and statistical analysis.

Introduction to Crime Scene Examination

You gain key practical skills associated with the examination of a crime scene and the need to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team to process serious crimes. Your focus is on developing the psychomotor skills required in order to maximise forensic evidence recovery at a variety of incidents through the application of sequential processes. This is achieved through the use of simulated incidents and practical exercises and covers key topics such as the preservation of the crime scene, methods of recording and documenting a crime scene and the recovery and packaging of forensically relevant material. The delivery of this module includes two intensive weeks where you work in small groups to solve a defined problem.

Introduction to Forensic Science

You are introduced to the fundamental concepts of forensic science in both a theoretical and practical manner. You are introduced to a range of forensic chemical and biological evidence types including, footwear marks, glass, paint, fibres, fire investigation, drugs, DNA, body fluids and blood pattern analysis and carry out a range of associated practical and tutorial sessions. Additionally you incorporate the requirement to analyse and interpret forensic scientific data.

 

Year 2 core modules

Expert Witness and The Law

This is an introduction to the role of the expert witness in legal proceedings, from handling of evidence and writing scientific statements to being an effective expert witness in the courtroom. The legal framework is explored including aspects of UK, International and Human Rights law. There is a quality theme throughout, to include quality standards and accreditation. It is delivered by a series of lectures and seminars with practice sessions for you to develop your courtroom skills.

Forensic Analytical Techniques

You examine the underpinning principles and practical realisation of a wide range of analytical techniques towards crime scene science and forensic science. Analytical techniques include chromatography, microscopy and spectrometry. Emphasis is placed on the application of the analytical technique towards the investigation of fire scenes, glass fragments, paint analysis, fibres and drugs of abuse.

Forensic Scene Examination

You examine the crime scene from a forensic scientist’s perspective. You examine simulated crime scenes and develop your scene attending skills as well as appreciating the impact the collection of evidence from the crime scene makes on the forensic process. The practical aspects for this module take place in two intensive weeks allowing you to gain an appreciation for real time forensics.

Investigations in Forensic Biology

You undertake a series of investigations and laboratory examinations in biological evidence enabling acquisition of practical knowledge and skills which are important in the role of a practicing forensic biologist. You build on the basic general skills of forensic examination and allow specialisation in biological evidence. The work is largely self study, but includes some elements of formal instruction. There is a number of taught sessions throughout the year which will be supplemented by a comprehensive range of laboratory sessions and a self-managed investigative case study where you are required to analyse, interpret and evaluate information contained within published scientific literature.

Investigations in Forensic Chemistry

You examine the science underpinning chemical trace and particulate evidence analysis. You are also required to assess, evaluate and interpret forensic trace evidence and justify these findings. The module consists of lectures covering key content and also includes the use of case studies and group discussions/debates in order to allow you to develop your critical understanding of forensic science in the judicial process. In addition laboratory sessions will allow you to develop your key practical forensic skills and apply your theoretical knowledge.

Science Research Methods and Proposal

You will take this module if you are studying a science degree and complete a hypothesis-driven research project at Level 6 of your degree studies. It is delivered though lectures, tutorials and workshops.

You develop a proposal for your research project, which includes an explanation of the project targeted at both a specialist audience and the general public, and details of experimental design and statistical analysis to be employed. The proposal considers academic beneficiaries and economic, environmental and societal impacts. Project costs are estimated on the basis of a full economic costing model. In addition, the proposal is supported by a targeted CV.

A short lecture series at the start of the academic year provides you with an introduction to the module and advice on completing the research proposal documentation, followed by a series of assessment centre-style workshops and tasks which help assign you to a specific research project area and supervisor. These tasks familiarise you with the type of activities you might face during the application, interview and selection procedures.

You must produce a research proposal for your individual project. You are supported by a series of meetings with your supervisor to provide feedback on your progress.

For the proposal to be considered you must acquire ethical clearance from the School Research Ethics Committee. Once you are allocated a project you join discipline-based tutorials with other students. Each discipline operates tutorial sessions, which are used to provide academic guidance and support for completing ethical clearance documentation and the proposal. A series of research methodology-based workshops introduce you to various experimental designs and statistical techniques relevant to your discipline. These sessions also demonstrate how you can use software such as Minitab, SPSS and Excel to present and analyse datasets. These workshops help you decide on the design and analysis of the data associated with your project.

The module is assessed by you successfully acquiring ethical clearance (pass/fail) and submitting a completed research project proposal and supporting CV (100%).

 

Final-year core modules

Forensic Analytical Chemistry

Analytical chemistry is the application of biological and chemical knowledge towards the identification and characterisation of compounds. The application of analytical chemistry towards forensic science can aid the investigation of crimes and criminal activity. You examine analytical instrumentation which supports the investigation of drug identification and profiling, fire and explosive investigations, human and animal tissue analysis and other current relevant applications. You review the analytical instrumentation towards forensic applications focusing on critical evaluation of data.

Forensic Biology and DNA Analysis

You study core forensic and biological knowledge, providing opportunities for you to interpret, conclude and evaluate upon more complex case scenarios within forensic biology. It provides opportunities for you to develop the appropriate skills to analyse interpret and draw conclusions on DNA profiles and understand the range of alternative methods available for the biological identification of individuals. This is achieved by an appropriate assortment of lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions and self-directed learning.

Science Research Project

You bring together a range of practical and academic skills, developed in previous years of study, to interrogate a particular aspect of your field of study. You specialise in a particular area of science, supported by an appointed research supervisor who will act as a mentor and guide you through the development and completion of your research project.

You are required to present a poster and abstract at the School’s annual Poster Day event, which is attended by academics of the School, external examiners, and professionals from the region. The poster contributes to your final project mark. Throughout the project you are expected to maintain systematic and reliable records of your research which are reviewed on a regular basis by your supervisor and assessed at the end of the project. You submit your research in the style of a paper which could be submitted to an appropriate scientific journal related to your discipline.

The module is assessed by a poster presentation (20%) and the submission of a journal paper supported by a research diary and/or laboratory notebook (80%).

Serious Crime Investigation

You carry out group work and encompass the examination of evidence typically found within a crime scene and working forensic science laboratory, evaluation of data and delivery of evidence in a mock court. You work in self-managed inter-disciplinary teams using each other’s strengths to build up a portfolio of knowledge and evidence relating to casework material. The module incorporates industry standards such as Streamlined Forensic Reporting (SFR).

 

and one optional module

Drugs and Toxicology

You examine pharmacological and biochemical aspects of drug action and the subject of toxicology. Mechanisms of drug action are considered as are: intoxication, side-effects and factors affecting response to xenobiotic compounds as well as misuse and abuse issues. Methods for drug testing and the associated analytical techniques for forensic investigation are also considered.

Forensic Ecology

You explore the broad subject of forensic ecology – the use of the environment in forensic investigations. This includes topics such as archaeology and anthropology, entomology, palynology and soil analysis. A number of different topics are examined and discussed and their potential to aid forensic scientists will be critiqued. Case examples will be used to illustrate the application of these ecological methods. Lectures will be complemented by practical sessions and discursive seminars to fully embed this knowledge and to allow you to fully explore and engage with this area.

Forensic Medicine

You examine some of the common procedures and applications used in clinical forensic medicine, forensic pathology and the investigation of suspicious deaths. It includes an overview of human anatomy to expand your existing knowledge within the subject area. You are required to evaluate ethical issues, legal issues and the appropriateness of scientific techniques. Analysis, interpretation and evaluation of scientific procedures relevant to the subject area will also be required.

 

Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

You are expected to attend a range of lectures, small-group tutorials and hands-on laboratory sessions. Part of your course also involves a substantial research-based project.

The course has been designed to provide a number of contact teaching and assessment hours (lectures, tutorials, laboratory work, projects, examinations), but you are also expected to spend time on your own, called self-study time, to review lecture notes, prepare coursework assignments, work on projects and revise for assessments. Each year of full-time study consists of modules totalling 120 credits and each unit of credit corresponds to ten hours of learning and assessment (contact hours plus self-study hours).

One module in each year of your study involves a compulsory one-week block delivery period. This intensive problem-solving week, provides you with an opportunity to focus your attention on particular problems and enhance your team-working and employability skills.

How you are assessed

Assessments are varied and reflect the module outcomes. There are written assignments, from essays to court reports, examinations and verbal presentations. You also have the opportunity to present evidence in the mock court room.

Support and constructive feedback is provided by academic members of staff to help you improve in all aspects of your learning.


Our Disability Services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia
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Find out more about financial support
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Work placement

We produce graduates with the problem-solving and leadership skills necessary to forge successful careers.

This programme allows you to spend an optional year - in-between your second year and final year - learning and developing your skills through work experience. You have a dedicated work placement officer and the University's award-winning careers service to help you with applying for a placement. Advice is also available on job hunting and networking. Employers are often invited to our School to meet you and present you with opportunities for work placements.

By taking a work placement year you gain experience favoured by graduate recruiters and develop your technical skillset. You also obtain the transferable skills required in any professional environment. Transferable skills include communication, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, organisation, confidence, self-reliance, problem-solving, being able to work under pressure, and commercial awareness.

Throughout this programme, you get to know prospective employers and extend your professional network. An increasing number of employers view a placement as a year-long interview and, as a result, placements are increasingly becoming an essential part of an organisation's pre-selection strategy in their graduate recruitment process.

Potential benefits from completing a work placement year include:

  • improved job prospects
  • enhanced employment skills and improved career progression opportunities
  • a higher starting salary than your full-time counterparts
  • a better degree classification
  • a richer CV
  • a year's salary before completing your degree
  • experience of workplace culture
  • the opportunity to design and base your final-year project within a working environment.

Career opportunities

Possible careers include crime and forensic investigation, forensic science, analytical science, either in industry or with a forensic science provider, forensic anthropology, pharmaceuticals, teaching, research science and any other job that calls for sound scientific and investigative skills.

According to the survey of Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE 2013-14), 90.0% of BSc (Hons) Forensic Science respondents to the survey were in work or further study within six months after completing their course. Figures based on graduates who were classed as full-time home (UK) students.

Entry requirements

Year 1 entry
If you live in the UK you may be invited to attend an interview. The purpose of the interview is to help us tailor your offer to your individual circumstances. The interview process also enables us to consider applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and those with non-traditional qualifications, including individuals who may be returning to study after a period of employment.

In addition to your interview, during your visit you will be offered a tour of our fantastic campus, a visit to our laboratory and teaching facilities, and an opportunity to meet our staff. You will learn much more about your course, and the range of scholarships, bursaries and grants you might be eligible for.

If you can't come for an interview we will consider making an offer based on the information you provide in your application form and the typical entry criteria for your course as listed below.

Eligibility for entry to Year 1 of this programme requires study of at least one of the following essential subjects at Level 3:

  • Biology (or other related subject) OR
  • Chemistry (or other related subject)

The most common acceptable Level 3 qualifications are (typical minimum grades are shown in brackets):

  • A levels (grades BBC)
  • BTEC Extended Diploma (grade DMM)
  • Access to HE Diploma (with 30 Level 3 credits from science units awarded at merit or higher)

You will be expected to have numeracy skills equivalent to GCSE grade 4 or higher. If your qualification is not listed please contact our admissions office for advice. We accept many alternative UK and international qualifications.

If your qualifications and grades don't meet the entry requirements for Year 1 entry you can be considered for one of our degree courses with an integrated foundation year. The recommended extended route for this course is BSc (Hons) Forensic Science (Extended).

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Guaranteed Place Scheme (for UK/EU students only)

If you have completed Level 3 qualifications (for example AS Levels, BTEC Nationals) and have at least five GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including English and Mathematics, you may be eligible for a guaranteed place on an Extended degree course in your chosen subject whilst still working towards meeting the conditions required for a course with higher entry requirements.
Find out more and check your eligibility

Direct entry to later years
Applicants qualified to BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC) level may request direct entry to Year 2 of their degree, and applicants qualified to BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) level may request entry directly to the final year of their degree. You will be required to provide a full detailed transcript of your previous studies with your application to enable us to determine your eligibility for advanced entry.

English language requirement
Entry to a degree programme requires you to have a good command of spoken and written English. An example of an acceptable qualification is GCSE English language at grade 4.

Non-EU international students who need a student visa to study in the UK should check our web pages on UKVI-compliant English language requirements. The University also provides Pre-sessional English language courses if you do not meet the minimum English language requirement.

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


You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

Part-time

What is KIS?

How to understand the Key Information Set

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 years with work placement)

More full-time details

Part-time

  • 6 years if entering in Year 1, 4 years if entering in Year 2

More part-time details

  • Timetable governed - please contact our admissions office
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800

Contact details

Further information