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Undergraduate study
 
 

Course overview

This BSc (Hons) Forensic Science degree course at Teesside University is multidisciplinary. 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.

You can complete an optional work placement year as part of this degree course at no extra cost.

Forensic science has an important role to play in modern society and can lead to an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career. Our degree, a multidisciplinary area of study, reflects the skills required by the modern forensic and graduate scientist. Besides extensive skills development in the background and practice of current methods of scientific forensic analysis, grounding is also given in the investigative processes from recovering evidence through to presenting it in court. 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. In addition to learning the vital skills relevant to a forensic scientist, the course is multidisciplinary such that you also develop an understanding of key biology and chemistry subjects such as biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, toxicology and analytical chemistry.

Professional accreditation

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

 
 

Course details

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

You cover 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 appropriate to life science and biomedical science disciplines. This involves study of the chemistry of carbon, and why this element is capable of forming the complex 3D modules that make life possible. Important groups of biological molecules will be studied in detail, including proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids.

You learn through taught and tutorial activities. Active learning and in-class interaction is encouraged by the use of modern tools, such as those available on smartphones and tablets. Practical aspects of the module is delivered in laboratory-based sessions. As well as providing valuable lab experience, these practicals reinforce the links between theory and practice.

Cell Biology and Microbiology

The cellular basis of all living organisms is one of the characteristics which defines life. You explore the common features and the immense diversity of form and function displayed by cells of organisms. You increase your understanding of biological processes at the cellular level. You cover the structure and function of major cellular components and examine how fundamental processes within cells are organised and regulated, such as gene and protein expression. You also address 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. and 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%).

 

Year 3 optional placement year

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.

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 learn through a range of teaching and learning methods including:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars and workshops (including oral presentations and poster sessions)
  • laboratory work
  • computer laboratory-based sessions
  • group projects
  • research projects.

The course provides a number of contact teaching and assessment hours, but you are also expected to spend time on your own - 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). So, during one year of full-time study you can expect to have 1,200 hours of learning and assessment.

Each programme and module is supported by a specific virtual learning environment (VLE) site.

How you are assessed

You may be assessed through:

  • formal exams including 'unseen' exams
  • court/case
  • reports
  • evidence portfolios
  • oral presentations and technical interviews
  • collaborative project work
  • preparation and display of posters
  • planning, conduct and reporting of project work.

You also have the opportunity to present evidence in our on-campus court room.


Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs

 
 

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Year 1 entry
96-112 UCAS tariff points.
Typical Level 3 qualifications include:

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

You must have studied at least one relevant subject at Level 3. Eligible subjects include:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Applied Science

Alternative equivalent UK and international qualifications and subjects are also considered. If you are not eligible for Year 1 entry, we also offer this course with an integrated foundation year.

English language and mathematics requirements
Normally, evidence of English language and mathematical skills equivalent to at least GCSE grade 4 is required. We consider a wide range of English and maths qualifications alternative to GCSEs. Please contact our admissions staff for advice.

Direct entry to later years
If you have previously studied a relevant subject at a higher level (for example HNC, HND or one or more years of a degree at another institution) we can consider you for direct entry to Year 2 or Final Year of this course. Please provide us with a complete detailed transcript of your previous studies with your application to help us determine your eligibility for advanced entry.

Interviews
You may be invited to attend an interview to help us reach an offer decision. Your interview session is designed to help you by giving you the opportunity to showcase your individual strengths and qualities that define your potential to succeed on your chosen course. You may receive a more flexible offer following a good interview performance.

It is important to us that you reach an informed decision on where to study so we make every effort to provide you with information, guidance and advice to help you make the right choice. During your visit you will have the opportunity to learn more about your course, see our excellent facilities, meet staff and students, and learn more about studying at Teesside University. We receive very positive feedback from visiting students and we are confident you will find your visit a useful experience too.

Non-EU international students
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 our entry requirements

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

 

Employability

Work placement

A work placement officer and the University's careers service help support you with applying for a placement. Advice is also available on job hunting and networking.

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

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.

Examples of placements completed by our students:

  • DNA Analyst, Eurofins Forensic Services (formerly LGC Forensics), Warrington
  • Research Scientist (Gas Chromatography), AkzoNobel, Slough
  • Research Scientist (Analytical Chemistry), Proctor and Gamble, Newcastle Innovation Centre
  • Science Laboratory Technician, Stockton Riverside College Bede Sixth Form Centre, Billingham
  • Stability Analyst, GlaxoSmithKline, Barnard Castle.
    • Career opportunities

      Forensic science graduates can find employment in a wide range of sectors - you are not restricted to a forensic scientist role. You have enhanced employment prospects in sectors which include medical, scientific and research laboratories, chemical and processing industries, the legal profession, probation service, police, Ministry of Defence, Home Office, trading standards, criminal justice agencies. With our focus on science communication, some graduates choose to pursue a career in teaching.

 

Information for international applicants

Qualifications

International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.

Select your country:

  
 

Useful information

Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.

Talk to us

Talk to an international student adviser

 
 

Full-time

Entry to 2019/20 academic year

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£11,825 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants


What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 years with work placement)
  • UCAS code: F412 BSc/FS
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: 96-112 tariff points

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS

 

Part-time

2019 entry

Fee for UK/EU applicants
£4,500 (120 credits)

More details about our fees

  • Length: 6 years if entering in Year 1, 4 years if entering in Year 2
  • Attendance: Timetable governed - please contact our admissions office
  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800
  • Semester dates

Apply online (part-time)

 
 

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