Fans of television dramas Silent Witness and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation will soon have a chance to put their interest in forensics under the microscope.
Kingston University is about to launch a degree in forensic science and investigative analysis. Geared to meet the needs of employers, the programme is expected to appeal to both school leavers and more mature students eager to find jobs in the field.
Course director Dr Lucy Jones said there was growing interest in the subject as a career, fuelled partly by television coverage of crime. The course will cover three areas - forensic biology, analytical science and geographical information.Many of the experts who will run the course have worked on major criminal investigations.
Dr Jones' own knowledge of DNA analysis will be complemented by her new team's specialisation in forensic archaeology and drug investigation. Forensic archaeologist Layla Renshaw is still on call for the Torso in the Thames inquiry and recently took part in a televised documentary about the case. She has also assisted with United Nations' investigations into atrocities in Kosovo and is due to take part in the exhumation of Spanish Civil War graves this summer.
Her colleague, chemical analysis expert Valerie Forbes-Forsyth, spent five years working with the South African Police forensic laboratory in Capetown on drug cases. She has also carried out drug tests at the Horseracing Laboratory in Newmarket.
Geographical analysis, to be taught by Dr Nigel Walford, will focus on linking and mapping crimes across different parts of the country.
Dr Jones said the course would open up a wide variety of careers for graduates with organisations such as the police, chemical laboratories, hospitals and the Government's Forensic Science Service.
It is expected to start with 25 students in September. Once demand grows, a postgraduate course is also likely to be set up for working professionals and recent graduates.