Forensic science has an important role to play in modern society and can lead to an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career. Our degree reflects the skills required by the modern forensic and graduate scientist. In addition to extensive skills development in the 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 fragments, 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 ensures that you can develop your understanding of key underpinning knowledge of subjects such as biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, toxicology and analytical chemistry.
You may be eligible to apply for a scholarship with Cleveland Scientific Institution.
You can complete an optional work placement year as part of this degree course at no extra cost.
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.
Foundation year core modules
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.
This is a 20-credit module.
This module provides an overview of fundamental concepts in chemistry and their application in the context of environmental and life sciences
Chemistry is the study of the structure, properties and reactivity of elements and compounds, and plays a key role in all physical, life and applied sciences. The topics covered include the structure of the atom, the periodic table, chemical bonding, chemical reactivity, environmental science, biogeochemistry, pollution, green chemistry and climate change.
This is a 20-credit module.
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.
This is a 20-credit module.
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.
You gain an appreciation of how knowledge of issues in health and disease relate to modern society. You focus on the life sciences from a human perspective, develop an understanding of human biology and explore the role of different but interconnected life science disciplines in modern life. While reviewing life science from an interdisciplinary context, you examine the major human body systems – cardiovascular, respiratory, excretory, endocrine, nervous, digestive, skeletal and reproductive.
This is a 20-credit module.
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.
This is a 20-credit module.
Year 1 core modules
You gain a basic knowledge of human body structure and to relate this knowledge to both the understanding of the mechanisms associated with the control and regulation of physiological processes of the major organs systems of the body. This will allow you to develop ability to apply, evaluate and interpret the knowledge to solve problems in the discipline. You also develop applied contexts of the knowledge such as the construction of biological profiles for human identification including sex, age at death, stature determination and biological affinity. The module will be delivered through lectures, computer- aided learning via interactive web-based activities and labs.
You will develop an understanding of key concepts necessary to underpin subsequent studies in chemistry, biochemistry, biomedical sciences and molecular biology. Building of the underlying principles of chemistry is essential to understand complex biological systems. This module will introduce the fundamentals of chemistry and link them to the key biomolecules and biochemical processes which form the basis of life.
This is a 20-credit module.
You increase your understanding of biological processes at the cellular level. You will explore eukaryotic cell architecture and function with a molecular and mammalian focus, and learn about cell division and the cell cycle, genetic organisation of cells, DNA replication and gene expression. Your exploration of these aspects of cell and molecular biology will be supported by a series of laboratory-based sessions.
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.
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.
You are introduced to the fundamental concepts of forensic science in both a theoretical and practical manner. A range of chemical and biological forensic evidence types are also introduced, and their recovery and examination in the forensic laboratory considered. You begin to look at how these evidence types are presented in an investigative environment.
Year 2 core modules
Bioarchaeology focuses on the analysis of biological remains from archaeological sites in order to understand the life experiences of these people. Incorporating skeletal anatomy, osteology, archaeology, and anthropology, this module will lead you through the process of identifying, recovering, and analysing human remains. The module is delivered by a mixture of taught sessions, seminar discussions, and hands-on practical labs that will allow you to explore this discipline, and its application to forensic investigations.
This module explores the enormous power that analytical techniques have towards aiding forensic investigations. Forensic investigations involve a wide range of evidence types including paint, blood, drugs, bones and many more, all of which can undergo analysis using analytical instrumentation, including gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and spectroscopy. This module covers sampling techniques, chemical principles of analytical instrumentation and interpretation of data. Taught sessions and seminars which explore data will be supplemented by a comprehensive range of laboratory sessions, where student will be required to analyse, interpret and evaluate information contained within published scientific literature.
Being a forensic scientist means understanding what evidential types there are, how to examine items to locate them and the significance of finding them. In this module, you concentrate on the biological forensic evidence types most commonly encountered honing your practical skills in the process.
This module introduces you to a range of modern molecular biology concepts and techniques. General molecular biology, molecular biology of genetic diseases and the use of molecular biology for applications such as the production of recombinant proteins and biomedical science forensic applications will be addressed. The new age of molecular biology is underpinned by gene/genome sequencing, sequence analysis and sequence manipulation. You will be given a thorough introduction to the principles of sequence analysis and how these techniques have revolutionised all areas of molecular biology. Particular attention will be paid to the technique of PCR. The module will also introduce bioinformatics concepts around visualising and analysing DNA sequence data, as well as basic molecular data analysis. The module content will be delivered via a series of interactive lectures that will allow students to gain insight into the theoretical aspects of molecular biology and bioinformatics. A series of laboratory practical sessions will introduce the basic techniques that lie at the heart of modern molecular biology such as DNA purification, PCR, restriction digestion, nucleic acid analysis via agarose gels, and sequencing.
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.
This module looks at how trace evidence types, such as glass and fibres are transferred during criminal acts and how they are, subsequently, examined and interpreted by the forensic scientist. The module also considers the enhancement techniques available within the laboratory to aid the forensic scientist including chemical enhancement and photographic techniques.
Optional work placement year
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
This module expands upon core forensic and biological knowledge, providing opportunities for you to evaluate and interpret more complex case scenarios within forensic biology. It addresses routine DNA short tandem repeat analysis allowing you to develop the appropriate skills to extract DNA, perform polymerase chain reaction and capillary electrophoresis, and analyse and interpret DNA profiles for the biological identification of individuals. You will explore specialist techniques and future-facing technologies including next-generation sequencing which is revolutionising forensic genomics with applications including microbial forensics, species determination, and phenotypic predications such as biogeographical ancestry and physical characteristics.
Human identification is a vital part of many forensic investigations. You will explore and critically analyse the various techniques and technologies we can use in the identification of unknown individuals either dead or alive. Through taught sessions and practical seminar discussions you will reflect on previous and current practices and to consider what the future might hold in terms or arising technologies. Both 2D and 3D forensic imaging technologies will be covered.
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.
This is a 40-credit module.
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).
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.
Modules offered may vary.
How you learn
You learn through a range of teaching and learning methods including:
- 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
- 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
Any Level 3 subject is acceptable for entry to this course.
Normally entry qualifications can be accumulated from:
- any combination of Level 3 qualifications (for example, A/AS levels, BTEC Certificates/Diplomas, Access to Higher Education courses)
- High School Certificate or Diploma with good grades completed after at least 12 years of primary and secondary education demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of relevant post-school work experience
English language and maths 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.
If you receive an offer to study with us you may be invited to attend one of our Applicant Days. This is a great opportunity to learn more about studying at Teesside by exploring our campus, seeing our excellent facilities, meeting staff and students, and finding out more about your course.
The Applicant Day provides you with information, guidance and advice to help you make the right choice. Even if you have attended an Open Day we encourage you to attend the Applicant Day - we are confident you will find your visit a useful experience.
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
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
International applicants - find out what qualifications you need by selecting your country below.
Select your country:
Visit our international pages for useful information for non-UK students and applicants.