Forensic Science MSc

Why choose this course?

Forensic Science (Analysis) examines the latest analytical, spectroscopic and separation techniques used in case studies, such as Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LCMS/ MS) and Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICPMS). You will learn to investigate and analyse drugs of abuse, fibres and firearms and conduct fire and explosive investigations.

Forensic Science (Toxicology) offers in-depth training in pharmacology and analytical chemistry. You will study the biological effects and therapeutic uses of drugs, focusing on criminal and road traffic toxicology, and on drug testing in sport. Many of our staff have worked as forensic scientists or as expert witnesses and are actively engaged in research

Kingston University has its own scene-of-crime house located on site. This 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. 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 2023
Full time 2 years including professional placement September 2023
Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • These courses offer hands-on experience with state-of-the-art analytical and forensic equipment.
  • You will gain 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.
  • The opportunity to carry out a research project in industry (depending on availability) or in our extensive laboratories. 

Accreditation

This course is accredited by 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 forensic science, through the training schemes, workshops and employment seminars.
  • The University is commended for the wide range of analytical equipment available to the MSc students.

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. It is the responsibility of individual students to find a suitable paid placement. Students will be supported by our dedicated placement team in securing this opportunity.

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.

Please note

Optional modules only run if there is enough demand. If we have an insufficient number of students interested in an optional module, that module will not be offered for this course.

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. You may find securing a professional placement difficult as they are highly competitive and challenging, but they are also incredibly rewarding. So it is very important to prepare and apply yourself if this is the route you wish to take. Employers look for great written and oral communication skills and an excellent CV/portfolio. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's Student Route visa.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

  • A 2:2 or above honours degree or equivalent in forensic science, chemistry or a relevant discipline, e.g. a physical or life sciences, not criminology.
  • 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 you must pass IELTS academic test in English with an overall score of 6.5, with no element below 6.0, or meet the scores listed on the alternative online tests. Please note that we do not accept Standard XII as proof of Academic English.

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.

Country-specific information

You will find more information on country specific entry requirements in the International section of our website.

Find your country:

Teaching and assessment

Guided independent study (self-managed time)

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, 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 learning and teaching

Analysis pathway

Toxicology pathway

Analysis pathway
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 612 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1188 hours
Toxicology pathway
  • Scheduled learning and teaching: 608 hours
  • Guided independent study (self-managed time): 1192 hours

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

School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry

This course is delivered by the School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry. The School 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

2023/24 fees for this course

Home 2023/24

  • MSc full time £9,860

International 2023/24

  • MSc full time £15,800

2022/23 fees for this course

Home 2022/23

  • MSc full time £9,620

International 2022/23

  • MSc full time £15,400

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:

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs that are not covered by tuition fees which students will need to consider when planning their studies. Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, access to shared IT equipment and other support services. Accommodation and living costs are not included in our fees. 

Where a course has additional expenses, we make every effort to highlight them. These may include optional field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering), security checks such as DBS, uniforms, specialist clothing or professional memberships.

Textbooks

Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. You may prefer to buy your own copy of key textbooks, this can cost between £50 and £250 per year.

Computer equipment

There are open-access networked computers available across the University, plus laptops available to loan. You may find it useful to have your own PC, laptop or tablet which you can use around campus and in halls of residences. Free WiFi is available on each of the campuses. You may wish to purchase your own computer, which can cost between £100 and £3,000 depending on your course requirements.

Photocopying and printing

In the majority of cases written coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing, binding and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees, this may cost up to £100 per year.

Field trips

All field trips that are compulsory to attend to complete your course are paid for by the University. There may be small fees incurred for optional field trips such as travel costs and refreshments.

Travel

Travel costs are not included in your tuition fees but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses, Surbiton train station, Kingston upon Thames train station, Norbiton train station and halls of residence.

Placements

If the placement year option is chosen, during this year travel costs will vary according to the location of the placement, and could be from £0 to £2,000.

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.

After you graduate

Recent graduates have taken on roles such as scene of crimes officer, quality assurance officer, forensic toxicologist/analyst/scientist and pharmaceutical scientist.

Current research in this subject

Many of our staff 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 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.

Course changes and regulations

The information on this page reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. To improve your student experience and the quality of your degree, we may review and change the material information of this course. Course changes explained.

Programme Specifications for the course are published ahead of each academic year.

Regulations governing this course can be found on our website.

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