Forensic Science MSc

Why choose this course?

This course will enable you to gain a strong background in the theory of analytical and forensic techniques and how to apply them to complex problems such as those encountered at crime scenes. It emphasises the key skills required in this specialised area of science, including good measurement and scientific practice, sample collection and chain of custody, evaluation and interpretation of data, and constructing expert witness reports.

Kingston University has its own scene-of-crime house located on site, which is used to recreate crime scenes and enables you to put your investigative skills into practice. The property's garden is used by the forensic team's archaeologist for field investigations.

Lecturers on the course have wide experience in the forensics sector and many have worked either as forensic scientists or as expert witnesses. They are also actively engaged in forensic research, and are supported by visiting speakers from leading forensic consultancies.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2020
January 2021
Full time 2 years including professional placement September 2020
January 2021
Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • These two MSc courses offer hands-on experience with state-of-the-art analytical and forensic equipment.
  • They offer practical experience through recreated crime scenes at the University's own scene-of-crime house, and through presenting evidence at a mock trial at a crown court.
  • You may have the opportunity to carry out a research project in industry (depending on results and availability) or in our extensive laboratories. 

Accreditation

This course is accredited by the The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences for the component standards in Interpretation, Evaluation and Presentation of Evidence; Laboratory Analysis; and Crime Scene Investigation.

When you graduate you are eligible to apply to be an Associate of The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (ACSFS post-nominals). Having completed appropriate continuing professional development in a forensic science workplace, you can also become a Professional Member (MCSFS). Find out more from The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences website.

The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences commended Kingston University on the following:

  • The provision of state-of-the-art industry-related training schemes was considered both innovative and highly beneficial to students' employment prospects. The fact that these are free, assessed and provide competence certificates, in addition to the degree award, is commendable and was highly supported by the students.
  • Giving students the experience and opportunity to undertake a crime scene exercise, following initial investigation by a team of trainee paramedics, was considered an excellent way to introduce real-life aspects of crime scene management and the awareness of how the work of others can impact on the management and investigation of a scene.
  • Exposure to up-to-date working practice in foresic science, through the training schemes, workshops and employment seminars.

The scene of crime house

The scene of crime house is a real semi-detached house located on-site. Its five rooms contain various types of mock crime scenes, including burglary, arson, assault and sexual crime.

Students have to pick up evidence carefully and transport it back to the labs for preservation and analysis. Even the garden contains evidence and is used by the forensic team's archaeologist for teaching.

The house is also extensively used to teach Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA).

The library offers:

  • subject libraries, plus a free inter-library loan scheme to other libraries in the Greater London area;
  • online database subscriptions; and
  • a growing selection of resource materials.

What you will study

You will explore recent trends in forensic science and learn about the latest analytical devices used, such as atomic and molecular spectroscopic and separation techniques and DNA profiling.

You will look at the role of the forensic scientist and learn how to, for example, investigate and analyse drugs of abuse, fibres and firearms and conduct fire investigation. There is also the opportunity to present expert evidence at a mock courtroom trial in a magistrates' court, examined by Kingston's own trainee lawyers and/or their law lecturers.

In addition, you will have the opportunity to carry out your research project in industry (depending on your results and project availability) or in Kingston University's extensive forensic and analytical laboratories.

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list.

For a student to go on placement they are required to pass every module first time with no reassessments.

Modules

Forensic Science (Analysis) pathway

Forensic Science (Toxicology) pathway

Core modules

The Role of the Professional Forensic Scientist

30 credits

This module introduces you to the duties of the forensic scientist, the scene of crime officer and other specialists at a crime scene. It covers the principles of:

  • evidence collection;
  • packaging/labelling;
  • preservation;
  • continuity of evidence; and
  • quality assurance at a crime scene.

A mock trial will also help you develop the practical skills of expert witness testimony and report writing.

Separation Science

30 credits

This module introduces students to the principles and theory of separation science and its application in the laboratory including solvent extraction, high performance liquid chromatography, gas/liquid chromatography, centrifugation, gel and capillary electrophoresis and hyphenated techniques.

Molecular and Atomic Spectroscopy

30 credits

This module introduces the main spectroscopic techniques used in industry, e.g. UV/Vis, FTIR, Mass Spectrometry, NMR, AES, AAS and X -Ray methods and later progresses to the more advanced designs and applications, eg MS/MS, FTMS, TOF, sector and quadrupole mass analysers, 2D NMR, LCMS, MALDI, Atomic Fluorescence and ICPMS/AES.

Project

60 credits

This module involves a research- or industry-based in-depth research project. You will develop your ability to critically evaluate your own work as well as the work of others, utilising analytical and laboratory skills.

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

  • Prepare a realistic and coherent project proposal, formulate aims and objectives and plan your own time to achieve stated objectives.
  • Critically evaluate the current literature.
  • Carry out appropriate experiments in a safe manner (applying COSHH) and generate reliable data suitably analysed and apply appropriate statistical tests.
  • Communicate the results of the project in a coherent report and in oral and visual manner.

Optional modules

Professional Placement

120 credits

The Professional Placement module is a core module for those students following a masters programme that incorporates an extended professional placement. It provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in an appropriate working environment, and develops and enhances key employability and subject specific skills in their chosen discipline. Students may wish to use the placement experience as a platform for the major project or future career.

It is the responsibility of individual students to find and secure a suitable placement opportunity; this should not normally involve more than two placements which must be completed over a minimum period of 10 months and within a maximum of 12 months. The placement must be approved by the Course Leader, prior to commencement to ensure its suitability. Students seeking placements will have access to the standard placement preparation activities offered by Student Engagement and Enhancement (SEE) group.

Read more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Core modules

Forensic Chemistry and Trace Analysis

30 credits

This module introduces students to 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.

Core modules

Current Concepts in Forensic Toxicology

30 credits

This module provides the student with an in-depth training into pharmacology, analytical chemistry, case law, expert witness and statement writing. These skills form the fundamental duties of a forensic toxicologist. The two major branches of forensic toxicology in the UK are criminal and road traffic toxicology. Both of these require the practitioners to possess a knowledge of the analytical techniques used to analyse drugs and the pharmacology of these drugs. This module will provide students with a clear understanding of the biological effects and therapeutic uses of drugs, before focusing exclusively on both criminal and road traffic toxicology. There will also be a focus on drug testing in sport and its confirmation.

 

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Work placement scheme

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to take the option of a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's Tier 4 visa.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

  • A good honours degree or equivalent in forensic science, chemistry or a related life science/pharmacy discipline.
  • Applicants with alternative qualifications will also need appropriate experience in analysis.

Please note: each application is assessed on an individual basis and may be subject to additional requirements, such as undertaking short course(s), work experience and/or English language qualification(s). Meeting particular minimum entry requirements does not automatically guarantee a place.

International

In order to complete your programme successfully, it is important to have a good command of English and be able to apply this in an academic environment. Therefore, if you are a non-UK applicant* you will usually be required to provide certificated proof of English language competence before commencing your studies.

For this course the minimum requirement is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in Writing and 5.5 in Reading, Listening and Speaking.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements may be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Please make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we'll consider.

* Applicants from one of the recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking preparing coursework assignments and presentations, and preparing for exams. Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

As a student at Kingston University, we will make sure you have access to appropriate advice regarding your academic development. You will also be able to use the University's support services

Your workload

Type of teaching and learning

Analysis pathway

Toxicology pathway

Analysis pathway
  • Scheduled teaching: 612 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1188 hours
Toxicology pathway
  • Scheduled teaching: 608 hours
  • Guided independent study: 1192 hours

34% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.

How you will be assessed

Assessment typically comprises exams (eg test or exam), practical (eg presentations, performance) and coursework (eg essays, reports, self-assessment, portfolios, dissertation). The approximate percentage for how you will be assessed on this course is as follows, though depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose.

Type of assessment

Analysis pathway

Toxicology pathway

Analysis pathway
  • Coursework: 60%
  • Exams: 34%
  • Practical: 6%
Toxicology pathway
  • Coursework: 56%
  • Exams: 24%
  • Practical: 20%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

­You will be part of an intimate cohort of students which provides dedicated academic guidance and advice as well as the opportunity to build a life-long network of colleagues. Some modules are common across other postgraduate programmes, therefore you may be taught alongside postgraduates from other courses.

Who teaches this course?

This course is delivered by the School of Life Sciences, and Chemistry in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing.
The Faculty's wide selection of undergraduate and postgraduate courses covers a diverse range of subject areas, from aerospace to geography; from maths and computing to biotechnology; and many more. Our collaborative set-up provides new opportunities for our students, and we design our courses with industry professionals to ensure you stay up to date with the latest developments.

School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry

The School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry is well known for the high quality of its undergraduate and postgraduate courses. These include full- and part-time foundation programmes.
Excellent facilities support our teaching - students benefit from new, purpose-built laboratories, equipped with state-of-the-art instruments. Strong links with industry and other key sectors ensure our students are well prepared for today's employment market. These include connections with hospitals and community pharmacies, accreditation from industry bodies, and involvement with active research groups.

Postgraduate students may run or assist in lab sessions and may also contribute to the teaching of seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

Facilities

There is a wide range of facilities for practical work at our Penrhyn Road campus, where this course is based.

You will have access to a modern environment with the latest equipment, including our 'scene of crime house' where we recreate crime scenes. This allows you to put your forensic skills to the test, from dusting for fingerprints to searching for and analysing samples (read more below).

You will also benefit from:

  • the £9.8 million Eadweard Muybridge building with state-of the art laboratories;
  • new work areas and dedicated laboratories for research;
  • specialist equipment, such as:
    • chromatography instruments;
    • a breathalyser;
    • electrophoresis equipment;
    • electron microscopes;
    • electrochemical analysis;
    • nuclear science equipment;
    • thermal analysis;
    • x-ray diffractometers; and
  • a range of spectrometers, including mass spectrometers, infrared spectrometers and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers;
  • computing laboratories and a team of IT technicians to offer assistance.

The library offers:

  • subject libraries, plus a free inter-library loan scheme to other libraries in the Greater London area;
  • online database subscriptions; and
  • a growing selection of resource materials.

The 'scene of crime house'

The 'scene of crime house' is a real semi-detached house located on-site. Its five rooms contain various types of mock crime scenes, including burglary, arson, assault and sexual crime.

Students have to pick up evidence carefully and transport it back to the labs for preservation and analysis. Even the garden contains evidence and is used by the forensic team's archaeologist for teaching.

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MSc full time £9,200

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MSc full time £15,200

Fees for the optional placement year

If you choose to take a placement as part of this course, you will be invoiced for the placement fee in Year 2. Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme and the costs for the placement year.


Funding and bursaries

Kingston University offers a range of postgraduate scholarships, including:

If you are an international student, find out more about scholarships and bursaries.

We also offer the following discounts for Kingston University alumni:

Where this course will take you

In the UK, forensic analysts are now mainly employed in independent laboratories. They perform a variety of roles including laboratory technical support, laboratory management, forensic investigations (sampling, chemical analysis and data interpretation) and are expected to present evidence through formal reports or directly in court. Whilst a qualification in Forensic Analysis can allow access to employment opportunities in forensic laboratories, the training required for a forensic analyst is valuable in a wide range of related employment sectors. The MSc Forensic Analysis helps to prepare you for roles such as:

  • scene of crimes officer
  • forensic scientist
  • pharmaceutical scientist
  • quality assurance officer
  • medicinal and scientific researcher

What this course offers you

  • The course is accredited by the Chartered Society for Forensic Sciences.
  • You will use state-of-the-art analytical and forensic equipment.
  • Facilities include a scene of crimes house for crime scene investigations.
  • You will have the chance to give expert witness testimony in a mock courtroom trial.
  • You will work on a specialist research project.
  • The course is taught by active researchers in Forensic Analysis.
  • There is the option to study for a 12-month professional placement.

Links with business and industry

How we work with industry partners

Our links with practitioners and industry provide a practical base for our courses. They also help us to ensure your studies are kept up-to-date and relevant to the working environment.

If you choose to study this course, you will benefit from:

Real-world project work

You can take your MSc project:

  • in industry – potential placements include forensic labs, analytical companies, contract pharmaceutical companies or hospital labs, for example; or
  • as collaborative research with other laboratories – such as the Laboratory of the Government Chemist or the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory at Newmarket.

Visiting speakers

Recent guest speakers include:

  • large pharmaceutical companies discussing contemporary research methods and practice;
  • experts at the Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC) discussing Valid Analytical Measurement (VAM) and drugs of abuse; and
  • a forensic consultant discussing blood alcohol analysis in relation to drink-drive cases.

Industry visits

Recent trips include:

  • a tour of the forensic labs at the Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC);
  • a visit to Kingston Crown Court to see a trial; and
  • a visit to a forensic pathology lab to witness an autopsy.

Current research in this subject

Many of our staff in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing are research active. This ensures they are in touch with the latest thinking and bring best practice to your studies. 

Areas of interest to this course include:

  • Analysis of trace materials from vehicles involved in road traffic accidents (Dr. B. Ghatora, Dr. J. Barker, Dr. S. Barton)
  • Fire investigation, (Dr C. Hall)
  • Drugs of abuse analysis (recreational and in sport), (Prof. D. Naughton, Prof. A. Petroczi, Dr. J. Barker, Dr. B. Rooney, Dr. S. Barton)
  • Lipstick contact analysis and Blood Pattern Recognition, (Dr. B. Ghatora, Dr. J. Fletcher)
  • Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology (Dr. L. Renshaw)
  • Near Infra-Red Analysis of (Dr. M. Kudo).

Research in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing comprises three recognised University Centres of Research Excellence, led by internationally-renowned experts in their fields, plus research groups and interdisciplinary projects in specific strategic areas.

Our nationally- and internationally-recognised research activity is supported by strong links with industry and funding from a range of sources including the European Commission, UK research councils, charities and multinational corporations.

Digital Information Research Centre (DIRC)

The Digital Information Research Centre is dedicated to the advancement of the theory and applicability of computer science to enable internationally-leading work in the field of informatics, addressing the needs of society in the thematic areas of health, communications, security and data. The centre provides an inclusive and outward looking environment for research development, fostering interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research to achieve maximum impact in real-world applications.

Interdisciplinary Hub for the Study of Health and Age-related conditions (IhSHA)

The Hub brings together established researchers, early career researchers, post-doctoral fellows and research students from specific research areas in life and health sciences. The research is organised around six themes: Diabetes and Cardiovascular Pathologies; Cancer Research; Vision, Cognition and Neuroscience; Drug Discovery, Delivery and Patient Care; Infection and Immunity; Sport, Exercise, Nutrition and Public Health.

Centre for Engineering, Environment and Society Research (CEESR)

This Research Centre brings together researchers at all levels who work in engineering and environmental sciences and related disciplines to which engineering solutions are increasingly critical in modern society (e.g. medical sciences). The research areas within CEESR comprise seven 'Themes' that reflect existing research strengths and collaborations. These are: Civil Engineering; Earth, Environmental and Social Sciences; Fire, Explosion and Fluid Dynamics.

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