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Forensic Science BSc(Hons)

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time F410 2017
4 years full time including foundation year F411 2017
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2017
Joint honours: see course combinations for UCAS codes

Why choose this course?

If you are interested in the collection and interpretation of scientific evidence, and the application of science to criminal investigations, a degree in forensic science is ideal. It combines a broad range of topics in an integrated approach to this innovative and exciting area of science. You can study this course as a single honours degree or combine it with Criminology.

What you will study

Year 1 is designed to give you a broad understanding of the major branches of biology and analytical science, as well as key laboratory skills. The Introduction to Forensic Science module gives you an overview of important types of forensic evidence such as human bones, insects, drugs and poisons. In addition, IT, numeracy and study skills will be taught as part of these modules.

Year 2 introduces specialist topics in forensic biology such as DNA and human identification, crime-scene processing, analytical techniques, fakes and forgeries, and an introduction to law, including expert witnessing in a mock court.

In Year 3, you will study blood, body fluids, drugs, fibres, fire and ballistics. You can tailor your studies through option modules in Advanced Analytical Techniques or Forensic Archaeology. Those studying the single honours route will also undertake an independent research project.

If you choose the joint honours option, you will study two Forensic Science modules and two modules from your other chosen subject each year.

Module listing

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.

Year 1

  • This module introduces the key types of forensic science and the role and expertise of different forensic specialists. This module is also designed to encourage independent learning and research.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an awareness of introductory skeletal anatomy, post-mortem change and the autopsy process.
    • Have a knowledge and understanding of key techniques in the analysis of a variety of types of forensic evidence.
    • Demonstrate an awareness of the role of scientific evidence in real-world forensic cases.
    • Show an appreciation of the many classes of trace and contact evidence that may occur in a forensic case.
  • This module introduces basic chemistry from first principles with particular emphasis on application to biology and biochemistry. An introduction to the structure and function of the major classes of biological molecules is also covered.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate knowledge of atomic structure and bonding and how molecules interact with one another.
    • Understand basic chemical reactions including making and breaking of bonds.
    • Understand the conformations and stereochemistry of molecules.
    • Describe, recognise and understand the structural properties and functions of the major classes of biologically important molecules.
    • Summarise general aspects of energy metabolism.
    • Demonstrate the key communication skill of report writing and develop laboratory and independent learning skills.
  • This module provides a foundation in general scientific and laboratory skills. In addition, the module includes basic research skills such as practical skills in the laboratory, the principles of experimental design and the statistical analysis of data.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Manage their time to become effective independent learners.
    • Exhibit competence in basic numeracy and scientific calculations, and to statistically analyse and interpret data.
    • Use word processing and spreadsheet packages to present text, graphics and data competently.
    • Write succinct scientific reports with appropriate referencing.
    • Locate contemporary research publications both in text and electronic format.
    • Explain the theory behind biological experimental design, carry out basic laboratory procedures safely and accurately, and demonstrate the application of good laboratory practice.
  • This module introduces basic cell biology of prokaryotes and eukaryotes, molecular, organismal and population genetics, germ layers and basic tissue types in the human body, and a variety of microorganisms. The laboratory work incorporates selected current techniques used to study cells, tissues, chromosomes and microbial organisms.  

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an understanding of the major cell components and discuss their functions in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts in molecular, population and evolutionary genetics.
    • Perform simple calculations relating to inheritance and population genetics.
    • Display a basic knowledge of the early development and structure and functions of major tissue types in the human body.
    • Recognise and discuss the characteristics of a variety of medically important microorganisms.
    • Demonstrate a comprehension of selected current techniques in light microscopy, histology, cytogenetics and microbiology and explain their relevance in employability.

Year 2

  • This module looks at the duties of all those involved in crime scene processing. Experience of observation and recording at the crime scene, evidence collection, preservation, documentation and chain of custody are discussed. In addition, the module deals with the role of an expert witness and knowledge of the UK Criminal Justice system. The group practical in the crime scene house and the professional conduct and presentation demanded by the mock trials develop key areas of employability. Questions of safety and quality assurance in crime scene processing are also addressed. The Case Assessment and Interpretation (CAI) model will be used in relation to the prosecution and defence scenarios which are  assessed during a mock trial. The module introduces statistical models used by forensic scientists in the court of law.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Demonstrate an awareness of the role and responsibilities of the forensic scientist and the scene of crime officer with respect to various crime scenes.
    • Apply the correct practices of evidence collection, preservation and recording in compliance with protocols on continuity and health and safety with respect to various crime scene scenarios.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the forensic scientist and expert witness within the criminal legal process.
    • Critically interpret evidence from a crime scene applying the CAI model or relevant statistical approaches.
    • Communicate scientific findings and interpretations effectively in written and oral form for examination in a mock trial scenario.
  • This module introduces the applications of analytical science within analytical biochemistry and builds upon the knowledge, practical skills and interpretation of skills whilst implementing the analytical process with scenario-based learning. The module deals with understanding sampling methods, sample preparation, errors and statistics and data recording as well as providing a theoretical understanding  and practical experience of the underlining principles of a range of analytical techniques instrumentation.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Use the application of the analytical process model, including method development to solve analytical problems.
    • Describe and explain the various chromatographic separation techniques (GC, LC, TLC and electrophoresis), as applied to pharmaceutical, life sciences and forensic applications.
    • Describe and explain the various spectroscopic and spectrometric techniques (IR, UV-VIS, and NMR).
    • Understand the principle of absorption and emission of light as applied to AES and AAS to carry out elemental analysis of samples.
    • Understand the importance of hybrid techniques within analytical science.
    • Produce clear and comprehensive (unambiguous) raw data by working safely in a laboratory, carry out calculations from those results and draw valid conclusions to present a report carrying out the necessary statistical analysis.
  • This module aims to further develop the scientific and research skills and its application with particular focus on key methods of human identification and trace and contact evidence associated with the human skeleton, tissues and fluids. The development of these methods through scientific research and case practice is also addressed to foster a critical evaluation of the applicability and reliability of key forensic techniques.  

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Appreciate the importance of experimental design in forensic research, and select, apply and interpret appropriate statistical tests for data analysis.
    • Locate, analyse and critically evaluate research papers, and demonstrate an awareness of ethical issues relating to research in forensic biology.
    • Reflect on your personal and academic skills, andresearch potential employment opportunities in the forensic and related industries, demonstrating an awareness of the attributes and skills needed to achieve their aspirations.
    • Demonstrate an awareness of key identification techniques applicable to a range of human tissues and fluids including, skeletal remains.
    • Critically evaluate the scientific basis, applicability and reliability of techniques within forensic biology.
  • Counterfeits, Fakes and Forgeries
    This module is designed to introduce forensic analysis of counterfeits, fakes and forgeries. The module first introduces document analysis and its importance in a forensic investigation. Examples of topics within forensic document analysis include the analysis of handwriting, signatures, inks, indentations, writing implements, printed and typewritten documents and counterfeits. The module will then go on to examine the forensic importance of counterfeit drugs, consumer products and art and antiques. 

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • analyse the acquisition and development of handwriting and signatures and factors affecting these
    • explain the difference between different writing implements, printers and typewriters and how these are examined in a forensic context
    • understand the various scientific techniques used to analyse different types of questioned documents
    • show an appreciation of and select appropriate techniques in order to carry out practical work relating to the investigation of counterfeit documents as well as of other commonly counterfeited items
    • discuss how products such as artwork, drugs and consumer products are forged and how such forgeries are analysed.

    Police and Penal Studies
    This module will provide you with the opportunity to undertake a critical examination of contemporary debates on the control of crime and purpose of punishment. You will be introduced to a range of theoretical perspectives and debates on the use of punishment to repress criminality and will be asked to consider the purpose of punishment in modern societies. This will be accompanied by an examination of different forms of punishment including an in-depth exploration of the use of imprisonment and comparative penal systems. The module will also develop your existing knowledge of crime control by examining the role of policing and the police in Britain through the lens of a series of contemporary policy developments, controversies and issues.


Year 3

  • This module focuses on the detection, recording, analysis and evaluation of a broad range of biological evidence, particularly trace and contact evidence, body fluids and blood patterns.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Critically assess how the composition and function of body fluids impact on their utility as forensic evidence.
    • Critically assess the appropriate analytical techniques applicable to a broad range of biological evidence including blood and body fluids.
    • Evaluate the application of forensic DNA analysis to a range of biological materials.
    • Evaluate and interpret blood pattern evidence.
    • Collect, process and record simulated forensic evidence to current professional standards.
    • Critically interpret and present simulated forensic evidence to current professional standards using the case assessment model.
  • This module introduces the analytical and forensic techniques encountered in trace and contact evidence analysis. The module focuses on four areas of forensic casework; drugs of abuse, fibre analysis, fire investigation and ballistics.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Appreciate the role of the Forensic Scientist as relates to drugs, fibres, firearms and fire, and illustrate the importance of prevention of evidence contamination.
    • Describe and explain the techniques and methodologies used for the analysis of trace and contact evidence samples, particularly in relation to fibres and firearms.
    • Critically assess the best methodology and technique appropriate for a sample.
    • Critically interpret current legislation as applied to trace and contact evidence, drugs of abuse and alcohol analysis.
    • Devise appropriate sampling and storage protocols for a range of analyses and matrices.
    • Demonstrate communication and observation skills and have developed independent learning skills.
  • Project
    This module provides an opportunity to undertake a scientific project and develop skills required to plan a project, develop a methodology, analyse the data and disseminate the results. Two types of projects are offered: an experimental or a non-experimental project requiring a review and critical evaluation of data generated from laboratory experiments or collected from published works.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Organise, plan and develop an area of research after discussion with project supervisors.
    • Review up to date advances from the primary literature and other relevant sources.
    • Use relevant ICT resources competently (eg browse through relevant on-line scientific databases; use appropriate software for chemical drawing, molecular modelling or data processing).
    • Prepare a structured, critical evaluation of a research topic and the data collected in the form of a written report.
    • Present and disseminate their results to a scientific audience through written and spoken communication.
    • Demonstrate an ability to work independently and to make informed decisions on the progress of the project.

    This module forms a major part of the degree; involving several types of projects that may be offered; a laboratory project, a library-based dissertation, or the production of a multimedia resource from blended learning or a website contributing to public engagement with science or public health awareness, with accompanying documentation. The project will require a review and critical evaluation of data generated from the determined research sources and culminating in a written report.

    On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

    • Devise, develop and implement a plan of research.
    • Undertake a critical and analytical evaluation of research literature; acquire primary and/or secondary sources of information and data; analyse and evaluate data and other sources of information.
    • Prepare a structured, critical evaluation of a research topic in the form of a written report.
    • Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of a selected research topic both orally and in writing.
    • Demonstrate key communication skills (written and oral) and appropriate ICT skills. Present scientific information in a variety of contexts and to different audiences. You will be expected to demonstrate independent learning skills throughout the course of the module.  Numeracy skills will also be required to successfully acquire, analyse and/or evaluate data.
  • Choose from the following:

    • This module introduces the role of the forensic archaeologist and the broad range of cases in which archaeological techniques may be utilised. These techniques include aerial and geophysical survey, excavation and recording of burials and the outdoor crime scene, and the scientific dating of both questioned objects and human remains.  

      On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

      • Critically evaluate and utilise a range of techniques and evidence sources that are employed in locating a missing person, outdoor crime scene, or clandestine burial.
      • Process and record an outdoor crime scene or clandestine burial in keeping with correct protocols and professional standards for the treatment of human remains and related evidence.
      • Critically assess the applicability of scientific dating, authentication and provenance techniques in forensic investigations.
      • Appreciate the study of taphonomy, preservation and the burial environment.
      • Critically assess the use of forensic archaeology in a range of domestic and international contexts.
    • This module deals with the themes of spectroscopy in the development of a more rigorous theoretical footing and advanced applications. In parallel to this, there is an introduction to  analytical themes covering radiochemical analysis, electroanalysis and thermal analysis.

      On successful completion of the module, you will be able to:

      • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of quality management systems relating to the analytical laboratory.
      • Apply the techniques and methods studied to routine and non-routine chemical problems, in various situations.
      • Critically compare and assess a variety of analytical techniques with regard to performance and applicability.
      • Design and carry out experiments to measure and subsequently interpret data, using techniques and concepts directly or indirectly related to those developed elsewhere in the module.
    • International Crime and Terrorism

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University on a not-for-credit basis as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Study abroad as part if your degreeMost of our undergraduate courses support studying or working abroad through the University's Study Abroad or Erasmus programme.

Find out more about where you can study abroad:

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Key information set

The scrolling banner(s) below display some key factual data about this course (including different course combinations or delivery modes of this course where relevant).

We aim to ensure that all courses and modules advertised are delivered. However in some cases courses and modules may not be offered. For more information about why, and when you can expect to be notified, read our Changes to Academic Provision.

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