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Undergraduate study
Computer and Digital Forensics (with Foundation Year)

Computer and Digital Forensics (with Foundation Year)
BSc (Hons)

 

Course overview

The BSc (Hons) Computer and Digital Forensics at Teesside University is ideal if you are interested in forging a career in computer security and forensics. Experts in computer and digital forensics have a key role to play in investigating, preventing and detecting crime, and countering terrorist threats.

Digital forensics is a field undergoing significant growth - the real challenge for law enforcement is keeping up with the rapid pace of technological development. Mobile phones, iPads and the internet are being used to perpetrate crimes and terrorist activities, creating billion-pound losses, and threatening national and international security.

This course prepares you for the challenges law enforcement agencies face in keeping up with the rapid pace of technological development. It really is the future of crime.

Experts in computer and digital forensics have a key role to play in investigating and preventing and detecting crime, and countering terrorist threats. You learn about file formats, data recovery techniques, networking and routing, communication protocols and security, cryptography, reverse engineering and investigative techniques. You use industry computer forensic tools such as X-Ways, Magnet AXIOM, UFED Cellebrite, and Passware. You learn the techniques and processes that allow you to recover, trace and capture digital data, and gain experience in preparing and presenting data as evidence in court. You study in our state-of-the-art digital forensic laboratory, which is equipped with the same high performance forensic workstations and industry-standard forensic software typically found in a police digital forensic unit.

Top reasons to study this course at Teesside:

  • Industry links: work on live industry briefs, competitions and hackathons with companies including Cisco, Cubic Transportation Systems, Sage, TUI, Atombank, HMRC and Waterstons.
  • British Computer Society (BCS) academic membership: get free BCS membership to accelerate your career path with CV builder tools, e-learning courses, mentorships programmes, jobs boards and volunteering opportunities.
  • Career-ready: our ExpoSeries of events allow you to showcase your skills to industry professionals who are seeking to recruit new and rising talent.

This course includes a foundation year - ideal if you need additional preparation or if you don't have sufficient grades to join Year 1 of a degree.

An optional work placement year is included, at no extra cost. Alongside this, you can gain valuable experience and engagement with the sector through our shorter work placements, internships and work experience opportunities.
Find out more

Professional accreditation

The Forensic Science Society This course has been accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, and was the first computer and digital forensics course in the UK to receive this accreditation.

 
 

Course details

Course structure

Foundation year core modules

Big Data

Big data – it’s a phrase that a lot of people would argue is overused, or at least not always used in the appropriate context. So, what is it really? How is it made and how do we make sense of it?

You learn how big data is not just abundant but a growing field in so many aspects of our society from policing and conservation to health and bioinformatics. You explore how groups and communities use and share big data to help keep themselves safe in disaster zones around the world. You begin to value the role data plays in helping to make sense of community relationships in society, from uncovering criminal networks, tracking disease outbreaks to developing a deeper understanding of our ecology.

Data might end up in a data-frame spreadsheet format but it doesn’t begin there. It is often created with people and animals engaging with each other and technology. You explore how search engines collate and store the data we need to help make predictions, enhance decision making, or simply to better understand society’s needs.

Crime Scene and Forensic Practice

This module introduces you to the theory and practice of crime scene and forensic sciences – you refer to case studies, especially those in which procedural issues have compromised investigations. These issues are brought to life in practical sessions using our onsite facilities including the crime scene house, vehicle laboratory and replica courtroom, all providing you with an immersive setting.

You work in groups to study and debate details of evidence-based miscarriages of justice. You see how practice has changed as a result of these cases as well as considering technological developments. Emphasis is placed on developing your study skills in the context of forensic investigation.

Global Grand Challenges

You focus on how science can help address some of the global grand challenges that face society. A group project enables you to develop innovative answers to some of the biggest issues of our time based on health and wellbeing, resilient and secure societies, digital and creative economy, sustainable environments and learning for the 21st century. The themes reflect the University’s focus on externally facing research that makes a real, practical difference to the lives of people and the success of businesses and economies.

Introduction to Cybercrime

This module provides you with a holistic perspective of the world of cybercrime. You develop your knowledge on current real-world events as the focus of your learning, such as high-profile security breaches and/or recent court cases of particular note. You are also introduced to the wider concepts of digital investigations.

You take part in seminars and engage with current events relating to cybercrime, alongside studying concepts relevant to the real-world practice of cybercrime investigations.

Programming for Life

This module provides you with a foundation to the underlying principles of scripting and programming to analyse data. You get hands-on experience of coding solutions to solve problems. You can apply these techniques and knowledge to subject-specific problems.

The first phase involves you learning key concepts, constructs and principles of a script or programme. The second phase introduces you to reusable code in the form of application programming interfaces (APIs) with a view to analysing data.

The Role of Enforcement Agencies

This module develops your understanding of the skills to successfully study at undergraduate level in crime scene science and forensics. You are encouraged to reflect on and manage your own learning. We emphasise time management and good learning practices during the module.

These skills are contextualised to give you an insight into how various enforcement agencies work and the investigative process including the use of intelligence. The module also covers the role of support services such as crime scene examiners and forensic laboratories within investigation. You are also introduced to prosecution policies used by enforcement agencies and the alternatives to prosecution.

 

Year 1 core modules

Computer Technologies

You are introduced to the basic subsystems, components and operating systems that form common personal computer systems. Sessions begin with a lecture covering relevant aspects of the subject material, which is supported, in the second part of the session, by relevant hands-on exercises

Crime Scene Examination

This module provides you with the professional skills required to work as a member of an investigative team dealing with a range of challenging situations. The focus is on developing your psychomotor skills to maximise forensic evidence recovery at a variety of incidents by applying sequential processes. We do this using simulated incidents and practical exercises. You attend a series of lectures and practical sessions. The module is assessed through your portfolio of work including work from practical sessions. At the end of the module you sit a multiple choice examination through the virtual learning environment. The module is designed to meet a number of National Occupational Standards for Crime Scene Investigators.

Forensic Case Studies and the Law

This module provides you with the essential legal knowledge to support you in developing the skills required of a forensic investigator. Through research and case studies, you will develop an understanding of the role of the courts and relevant investigatory legislation in the UK and how forensic examinations contribute to the criminal justice process.

Forensic Computing

You gain foundational knowledge of key threshold concepts in digital forensics. This module will contextualise prior knowledge and enable you to apply this learning to realistic, simulated forensic computing situations.

Forensic Scripting

This module introduces the skills required to develop a computer program/script that can solve a simple, but investigation relevant, forensic problem. The module taught ‘hands on’, using blended learning to demonstrate key concepts and constructs and practicals for students to reinforce the learnt knowledge. All teaching will be IT laboratory based. The assessment is a written examination.

Intelligence and Digital Investigation

This module provides students with the opportunity to identify and examine potential sources of intelligence as part of wider digital investigations. Students will examine where such sources might be located, their structure, contents and value to an investigation as well as surrounding legal and ethical implications involved with such information and the use of it. Relevant approaches to examining and interpreting intelligence sources will be identified and discussed, supplemented by reference to real-world scenarios and application

 

Year 2 core modules

Alternative Operating System Forensics

You gain a detailed knowledge of the principles of examining alternative operating systems and their associated file-systems, and modern alternative operating and file-system specific artefacts which provide sources of evidence and/or intelligence in a digital forensic investigation.

Digital Forensic Research and Development

This module uses group work as its major delivery tool and enables you to tackle problem-based learning to craft a realistic (but fictional) scenario involving digital evidence and simulated suspects and victims. You will create the digital evidence that would be associated with such a case.

Mainstream Operating System Forensics

You gain detailed knowledge of the principles of examining mainstream operating systems and their associated file-systems, and modern mainstream operating and file-system specific artefacts which provide sources of evidence and/or intelligence in a digital forensic investigation. You are immersed in practical scenarios that reflect real life cases, and use the forensic tools that are used in real cases to solve these scenarios. This module will utilise a blended approach to delivery, in order to consolidate and reinforce learning.

Mobile Forensic Investigations

You learn about data storage on mobile devices. You develop detailed knowledge of the principles of examining mobile devices, attached storage media and other portable devices. You are immersed in practical scenarios that reflect real-life cases and use the forensic tools that are used in practice to solve these scenarios.

Principles of Forensic Scripting

You focus on the principles of shell scripting and database interaction and will develop skills in the use of Bash and associated UNIX scripting utilities. Structured Query Language (SQL) will be the basis of database interaction. Initially you will be learn how to use SQL as the internal query language for databases, after which you will embed SQL within in an external program/script.

Professional Practice and the Expert Witness

This module is an introduction to the role of the expert witness in legal proceedings in the UK, from handling of evidence and writing scientific statements to being an effective expert witness in the courtroom. A professional practice theme throughout includes codes of conduct, quality standards and accreditation, to equip you with key information and skills required in a career in forensic practice. The legal framework will also be explored including aspects of UK and international law.

 

Optional work placement year

Work placement

You have the option to spend one year in industry learning and developing your skills. We encourage and support you with applying for a placement, job hunting and networking.

You gain experience favoured by graduate recruiters and develop your technical skillset. You also obtain 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.

Many employers view a placement as a year-long interview, therefore placements are increasingly becoming an essential part of an organisation's pre-selection strategy in their graduate recruitment process. Benefits 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.

If you are unable to secure a work placement with an employer, then you simply continue on a course without the work placement.

 

Final-year core modules

Applied Cryptography

Modern cryptography provides the security component for most digital interactions, for example messaging on WhatsApp. The building blocks of modern cryptography are based on classical ciphers, binary computations and mathematical concepts. You will be taught the building blocks of cryptography in order to understand how cryptography is applied to the digital field in terms of both applications and programs. You will learn how encoded data can be detected and recovered, as well as studying real-world forensic case scenarios, which will demonstrate modern encryption in action. You focus on the underlying technologies behind modern, current encryption; as well as learning how to bypass, crack, exploit, or otherwise defeat such encryption. You will also learn both paper-based and computer-based cracking techniques that would be required in the investigation of cybercrime.

Digital Offender and Victim Identification

You will learn about policies, procedures, tools, and techniques for analysing and investigating cases involving digital imagery; as well as open source intelligence techniques for researching and identifying electronic suspects and victims. As part of this module, you will also have the opportunity to achieve a certification for Griffeye Analyze DI Pro; an industry-standard software tool and the leading digital media intelligence platform. Assessment will be in the form of coursework.

Internet, Network and Server Investigations

This module provides you with a detailed underpinning knowledge of internet and server communications, which allows you to expand your knowledge to the examining advanced topics in the investigation of online activity, including that of cybercrime and electronic social engineering.

You use the same methodologies and techniques that are applied within real world situations to complete a task that is designed to reflect real world cybercrime and other online events

Science Research Project

You complete an in-depth, independent investigation into a specialist aspect of your field of study. In your project you will bring together a range of practical and academic skills developed in previous years of study. Regardless of the nature of the project, this process acts as a capstone experience requiring analysis and critical evaluation of data as well as critical reflection on the potential risks, moral and ethical issues. This piece of work will involve a significant individual contribution on your part. You will be supported by the appointment of an academic staff member as your research supervisor. They will act as a mentor and guide you through the development and completion of your research project.

Finally, you will communicate your independent research by producing a research poster and journal article to allow you to develop essential skills which mirror professional practice when research is presented at scientific conferences and for publication.

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).

 

Modules offered may vary.

 

How you learn

You gain the knowledge, understanding, experience and practical skills appropriate to computer and digital forensics through a range of independent and self-directed teaching methods including lectures, tutorials, seminars and workshops (including oral presentations and poster sessions), laboratory work, computer laboratory-based sessions, group projects and research projects.

You experience a number of contact teaching and assessment hours, you spend time on your own in 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). 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
  • technical reports
  • computer-based assessments
  • problem-solving exercises
  • oral presentations and technical interviews
  • collaborative project work
  • preparation and display of posters
  • planning, conduct and reporting of project work<.li>


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

Any combination of level 3 qualifications, each application is considered on a case-by-case basis.

English language and maths requirements
Acceptable qualifications include:

  • GCSE grade 4
  • Level 2 Key Skills
  • Level 2 Functional Skills

For general information please see our overview of 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

Career opportunities

Graduates can gain employment in a wide range of companies, government organisations, security services and the financial sector to name just a few. There are opportunities with forensic science agencies, the police and HM Revenue & Customs, as well as in computer security and forensic intelligence. Some of our recent graduates have gone on to work with Cleveland Police, North Yorkshire Police, Greater Manchester Police, and Sapphire.

 

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 enrolment adviser

 
 

Full-time

Entry to 2022/23 academic year

Fee for UK applicants
£9,250 a year

More details about our fees

Fee for international applicants
£14,000 a year

More details about our fees for international applicants


What is included in your tuition fee?

  • Length: 4 years (or 5 with a work placement)
  • UCAS code: FG47 BSc/CDFFY
  • Start date: September
  • Semester dates
  • Typical offer: Offers tailored to individual circumstances

Apply online (full-time) through UCAS

 

Part-time

  • Not available part-time
 

Choose Teesside

  • Facilities
     
  • On video

    Forensic biology work placement

    Forensic biology student Mark Malate talks about his work placement at Eurofins Forensic Services

     
  • Student and graduate profiles
     
  • Employer quote

    Simon Janes, Operations Director, Computer Forensic Alliance1

    ... we interviewed nearly 30 people for this position and the two Teesside University graduates stood out head and shoulders above everyone else.

     
 
 
 

ExpoTalent 2019

ExpoTalent is a unique opportunity to meet businesses to secure placements, internships and future employment opportunities.

 

Get in touch

UK students

Email: scedtadmissions@tees.ac.uk

Telephone: 01642 738801


Online chat

International students

Email: internationalenquiries@tees.ac.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1642 738900


More international contacts

 

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