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  • Forensic Science BSc (Hons)

Forensic Science BSc (Hons)

Why choose this course?

If you are interested in the application of science to criminal investigations, a degree in forensic science is ideal. This interdisciplinary degree explores the collection, analysis and interpretation of scientific evidence, in an integrated approach, with significant casework training using real life case examples. This exciting area of science is delivered with expertise from professional forensic practitioners.

Attendance UCAS code/apply Year of entry
3 years full time F410 2019
2020
4 years full time including foundation year F411 2019
2020
6 years part time Apply direct to the University 2019
2020
Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • This course received 92 per cent overall student satisfaction (National Student Survey 2018).
  • We have cutting edge facilities in DNA analysis, archaeology, questioned documents, toxicology and drug confirmation. Our equipment and instrumentation are based on those used in real life casework examinations, we also have a designated crime scene house.
  • You'll graduate with an integrated knowledge ofscientific disciplines and strong analytical abilities highly sought after by employers.

 

What you will study

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list as these could change before your year of entry.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 1 offers a broad understanding of the major branches of biology and biochemistry. You will develop key laboratory skills, and learn to give detailed scientific explanations for the theory and practices used in modern forensic science. The Introduction to Forensic Science module gives an overview of types of forensic evidence, such as skeletal remains, forensic entomology, drugs, toxicology, GSR (gun shot residue), DNA analysis, crime scene investigation and fraudulent document analysis. IT, numeracy and study skills will be taught as part of these modules.

Core modules

Genes, Cells and Tissues

30 credits

This module is a core module taken by students studying Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Biomedical Science, Forensic Science, and Pharmacology. The module introduces students to basic cell biology of prokaryotes and eukaryotes, molecular, organismal and population genetics, germ layers and basic tissue types in the human body, and to a variety of microorganisms. Core information is provided in lectures and supported by material on Canvas. Laboratory practicals give students the opportunity to learn a selection of current techniques used to study cells, tissues, chromosomes and microbes. The module provides a solid foundation for subsequent modules at levels 5 and 6 that expand knowledge in cell biology, anatomy, physiology, genetics and microbiology.

The Biochemical Foundations of Life

30 credits

This is a core module taken by students studying Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Biomedical Science, Forensic Biology, Forensic Science, Medical Biochemistry, Nutrition and Pharmacology. The module is intended to give you an understanding of how basic chemical elements are bonded to form complex biomolecules in living systems. The module will then elaborate on the role that structure of proteins, carbohydrates and lipids plays in defining their properties and function along with describing some of the laboratory techniques used in their investigation. The module will also introduce the importance of energy transformations in living organisms. The module provides an essential introduction to level 5 and 6 modules that develop further knowledge in biochemical principles. Core material is delivered through lectures and problem solving workshops supported by laboratory practicals and subsequent data analysis.

Scientific and Laboratory Skills

30 credits

This first year module is a core module for all Bioscience and Forensic Science programmes, and provides a firm foundation in general scientific and laboratory skills that students require to successfully complete their programmes of study.  Students are introduced to the nature of studying in higher education, the need for effective time management and planning of work, the appropriate use of information sources, and to sources of information relating to careers in the biosciences.  Scientific analytical and lab/practical skills are developed, together with essential mathematics and statistical skills for life scientists.  A significant component of the module consists of the development of basic research skills such as practical skills in the laboratory, the principles of experimental design and the statistical analysis of data.

Introduction to Forensic Science

30 credits

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.

Year 2 introduces specialist topics in forensic science. These include DNA and human identification, advanced crime-scene analysis, counterfeits and forgeries and the application of analytical techniques to the analysis of trace evidence such as fire, fibres, glass and fingerprints. You will also be introduced to criminal law and receive expert witness training. This will culminate in the cross examination of expert witness testimony and opinion in a mock courtroom setting at Kingston Crown Court.

Core modules

Research Methods and Topics in Forensic Biology

30 credits

This is a core module for students studying forensic science.  It aims to develop the scientific, academic and research skills that were introduced at level 4, and to relate applications of these skills to study and research in forensic biology.  Research skills are taught within the context of forensic biology and associated employment opportunities.  The module also develops your knowledge of forensic biology with a particular focus on key methods of human identification and contact trace evidence associated with the human skeleton, tissues and fluids, including DNA analysis. 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. Key issues in the use of biological evidence in forensic investigations, such as the use of controls, reference samples and databases, and measures to minimise bias and error will also be addressed in this module.

Crime Scene, Evidence and Law

30 credits

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.
Analytical Science

30 credits

This module is a core requirement in the Pharmaceutical Science, Forensic science and Biochemistry fields. The module introduces students to the applications of analytical science within analytical biochemistry, clinical chemistry, forensic analysis and the pharmaceutical sciences. It allows you to build your knowledge, practical skills and interpretation skills whilst implementing the analytical process model using scenario-based learning.

Policing and Punishment

30 credits

This module provides you with a critical insight into key issues and controversies in the delivery of justice, social control and punishment.  It encourages you to think critically about the role of the state in the regulation of behaviour and provides an overview of key changes that have occurred in the field of crime control and criminal justice. The first part of the module is dedicated to developing understanding of the concepts of 'policing' and the 'police'. Key issues confronting contemporary policing are explored together with an enhanced awareness of the historical context within which contemporary policing has developed.

Debates about policing are situated within broader debates of social control and governance, with a critical appreciation of the police function and role. It also considers the implications of globalisation for policing both at an organisational and conceptual level. The second part of the module provides you with the opportunity to undertake a critical examination of contemporary debates on the purpose of punishment. You will be introduced to a range of theoretical perspectives and debates on the use of punishment to address criminality and will 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.

Optional modules

Counterfeits, Fakes and Forgeries

30 credits

This module is an optional module in the Forensic Science pathway. It is designed to introduce you to the forensic analysis of counterfeits, fakes and forgeries, the implications of these, and their subsequent analysis. The module first introduces you to document analysis and its importance in a forensic investigation. Examples of topics include the analysis of counterfeit currencies, handwriting, signatures, inks, indentations, writing implements and art work. The module will then go on to examine the forensic importance of counterfeit drugs, consumer products and digital/cybercrime. Delivery of this module will include formal lectures, practicals and workshops.

Year 3 provides you with the opportunity to study further forensic topics, including the analysis of body fluids, advanced DNA analysis, examination of crime scene exhibits, drugs, toxicology, fire investigation and ballistics. You can tailor your studies through the option modules in Advanced Analytical Techniques or Forensic Archaeology. You will also undertake an independent research project which will allow you to hone your skills in a specific area of forensic science which includes but is not limited to DNA analysis, crime scene investigation, forensic toxicology and drug analysis, GSR analysis, skeletal anatomy, analysis of fire evidence, questioned documents and document fraud.

Core modules

Biological Evidence - Advanced Techniques

30 credits

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.
Forensic Chemistry and Trace Analysis

30 credits

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 (Bioscience)

30 credits

This is a core module in the Biosciences field for a number of BSc (Honours) programmes. The project module forms a very important part of the degree programme and probably constitutes the largest piece of independent work a student is likely to undertake during his/her undergraduate studies. There are several types of projects that may be offered to students: a laboratory or field-based project, data projects involving acquisition of data and information from surveys, questionnaires, computer simulations or bioinformatics, or a systematic review of research literature that includes the collection, comparison and original presentation of reported research data. The end point is the same in all cases; review and critical evaluation of qualitative and quantitative information and data to address a hypothesis or research question, and the production of a written report.

Optional modules

Project

30 credits

This module is a core module for Level 6 Pharmaceutical Science, Chemistry, Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences top up and Pharmaceutical Studies students and an option module for Forensic Science students. The module provides you with 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 to you: an experimental or a non-experimental project. The end point is the same in both cases: review and critical evaluation of data generated from laboratory experiments or collected from published works.

Forensic Archaeology

30 credits

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.
Advanced Analytical Science

30 credits

This is a core module of MPharmSci (Hons) Pharmaceutical Science and MChem(Hons) Chemistry and an option for BSc(Hons) Chemistry  and BSc(Hons) Pharmaceutical Science students. It takes forward the themes of spectroscopy that were introduced in the previous modules and develops a more rigorous theoretical footing and advanced applications. In parallel to this, analytical themes are introduced covering radiochemical analysis, electroanalysis and thermal analysis.

Global Terrorism and Transnational Crime

30 credits

The aim of the module is to introduce students to relevant issues within the realm of globalisation, terrorism and international crime: eg. terrorism, environmental crime, piracy, human trafficking, criminal networks, cybercrime. It will enable students to develop a detailed comprehension of the complexity of these criminogenic experiences.

In the first part of the course, the module focuses on terrorism. It will be introducing students to a range of complex historical, political and social factors that have contributed to the articulation of terrorist practices. Students will have a chance to engage in the understanding of the reasons why certain practices emerge, the interaction between terrorist discourses and the media and how international law enforcement bodies work and interact.

The second part of the module will present a critical overview of different organised and transnational crimes. Students will be offered a chance to explore the articulation, social control and impact of organised criminal behaviour at an international level. Students will understand the links between terrorist practices and other organised crime (eg. cybercrime or trafficking of humans).

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.

Foundation year

If you would like to study one of our science degrees at Kingston University but are not yet ready to join the first year of a BSc(Hons) course, you can include an extra foundation year within your chosen degree. Please see the science foundation year course page for details of modules.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

  • 112 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent Level 3 qualifications.
  • A Levels to include Biology or Chemistry at a grade C  or above; two science A-levels are desirable; General Studies not accepted

Alternatively, BTEC Extended Diploma in appropriate Science subject with grades DMM.

Candidates are normally required to hold five GCSE subjects grades A*-C including Mathematics and English Language (or comparable numeric score under the newly reformed GCSE grading).

Alternative routes

We will consider a range of alternative Level 3 qualifications such as an Access Course in Applied Science or Science,  which has been passed with 112 UCAS points.

Applications from those that have undertaken a Science foundation year will also be considered.

International

We welcome applications from International Applicants. View our standard entry requirements from your country.

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirements. For this course it is Academic IELTS of 6.0, with no element below 5.5.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching includes lectures, seminars, workshops and practicals using specialist teaching areas such as our scene-of-crime house, private bone collection and state of the art analytical laboratories.

Forms of assessment include end-of-module exams, coursework exercises, laboratory reports, and presentations.

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.

Academic support

Our academic support team here at Kingston University provides help in a range of areas.

Dedicated personal tutor

When you arrive, we'll introduce you to your personal tutor. This is the member of academic staff who will provide academic guidance, be a support throughout your time at Kingston and who will show you how to make the best use of all the help and resources that we offer at Kingston University.

Your workload

Type of teaching and learning

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
  • Scheduled teaching
  • Guided independent study
  • Scheduled teaching
  • Guided independent study
  • Scheduled teaching
  • Guided independent study

How you will be assessed

Type of assessment

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
  • Coursework
  • Practical
  • Exams
  • Coursework
  • Practical
  • Exams
  • Coursework
  • Practical: 7%
  • Exams

Feedback summary

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

Your timetable

Your individualised timetable is normally available to students within 48 hours of enrolment. Whilst we make every effort to ensure timetables are as student-friendly as possible, scheduled teaching can take place on any day of the week between 9.00am and 6.00pm. For undergraduate students Wednesday afternoons are normally reserved for sports and cultural activities, but there may be occasions when this is not possible. Timetables for part-time students will depend on the modules selected.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 50 students and lecture sizes are normally 50­-325­.  However this can vary by module and academic year.

Who teaches this course

The course is taught at the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing. Faculty staff have a wide range of experience across research and industry and continue to practice and research at the cutting edge of their discipline. This ensures that our courses are current and industry informed ensuring you get the most relevant and up to date education possible. 

Staff will use their experience and professional networks to hone your skills and shape you into the next generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates.

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

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 crime scene 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.

Course fees and funding

2019/20 fees for this course

The tuition fee you pay depends on whether you are assessed as a 'Home' (UK or EU), 'Islands' or 'International' student. In 2019/20 the fees for this course are:

 Fee category  Amount
Home (UK and EU students) £9,250*
International Year 1 (2019/20): £14,200
Year 2 (2020/21): £14,600
Year 3 (2021/22): £15,000
Islands (Channel Islands and Isle of Man) To be confirmed by the Island Authorities

 * If your course involves a foundation year, the fee for that year for home and EU students will be £9,250 in 2019/20. The fees shown above apply for year 1 of the degree from 2018/19 onwards (fees may rise in line with inflation for future academic years). These fees are annual and may increase in line with inflation each year subject to the results of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Eligible UK and EU students can apply to the Government for a tuition loan, which is paid direct to the University. This has a low interest-rate which is charged from the time the first part of the loan is paid to the University until you have repaid it.

Additional costs

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which 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, 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.

Text books

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, or be required to, buy your own copy of key textbooks.

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 Wi-Fi is available on each of the campuses.

Printing

In the majority of cases coursework can be submitted online. There may be instances when you will be required to submit work in a printed format. Printing and photocopying costs are not included in your tuition fees.

Travel

Travel costs are not included but we do have a free intersite bus service which links the campuses and halls of residence.

Lab equipment

For this course you will need to purchase a lab coat and safety glasses at approximately £20.

Note for EU students: UK withdrawal from the European Union

EU students starting a programme in the 2019/20 academic year will be charged the same fees as those who began in 2018/19 (subject to any annual increase in accordance with the applicable terms and conditions and the Kingston University fees schedule).

They will also be able to access the same financial support for the duration of their course as students who began in 2018/19, even if their degree concludes after the UK's exit from the EU.

No assurances have yet been made regarding 2020/21 and beyond. Updates will be published here as soon as they become available.

After you graduate

Graduates from this course are qualified to undertake employment in a range of environments, including forensic laboratories, policing, analytical chemistry laboratories, DNA testing services, hospitals and private consultancies. This degree also provides a foundation for further undergraduate study, postgraduate study and training.

Careers and recruitment advice

The Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing has a specialist employability team. It provides friendly and high-quality careers and recruitment guidance, including advice and sessions on job-seeking skills such as CV preparation, application forms and interview techniques. Specific advice is also available for international students about the UK job market and employers' expectations and requirements.

The team runs employer events throughout the year, including job fairs, key speakers from industry and interviews on campus. These events give you the opportunity to hear from, and network with, employers in an informal setting.

Employability preparation at Kingston University

In addition to building expertise in your own discipline, our courses will also help you to develop key transferable skills that you'll need for professional life or further study once you graduate.

As well as a range of careers and employability activities at Kingston, we also offer you the chance to apply and develop your skills in live contexts as an integral part of your course. Opportunities include:

  • placements;
  • working or studying abroad;
  • volunteering;
  • peer mentoring roles; and
  • internship opportunities within and outside the University.

In your final year, you'll get the opportunity to complete a major 'capstone' project where you can apply the knowledge and skills you have acquired to a range of real issues in different contexts. This is a great way to learn and is a valuable bridge to employment or further research at masters level.

Courses available after you graduate

If you decide that you would like to go on to postgraduate study after your undergraduate course, we offer a 10 per cent discount on our postgraduate course tuition fees to our alumni.

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. This course is currently accredited until March 2025. 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.

What our graduates say

Kingston University graduate Susan Richmond talks about her experiences on the Forensic Science:

 

What our students say

I think the highlight of the course has been getting stuck into the actual forensics.  I have really enjoyed learning more about the biological side of the body. 

The only thing I have struggled with is the chemistry aspect of the course, which I find quite challenging.  It just means I have to do a little bit of extra work to cover myself, but that's easy because there are always extra workshops and help available.

The course has helped to focus my ambitions. I have decided I want to go into the policing side of forensics. During our second semester we investigated a death. Part of that module involved looking at what the police would do. It helped me realise that this was something I really enjoyed and was interested in.

Pardeep Kaur Sangha – Forensic Science and Investigative Analysis BSc(Hons)

At the time when I applied, only three universities in London were running a forensics course. I was impressed with Kingston when I came here for an interview.

The course tutors are very approachable. Many of the lecturers put a lot of effort into their lectures to ensure they are interesting and informative. They are able to pass on their enthusiasm to us, and use cases and their own experience to bring the lectures to life. For me, the most interesting part of the classes is the application of ideas to solve forensic questions. I enjoy problem solving. 

The course has opened my eyes to the vast range of career options in forensics and to the possibility of doing an MSc. I am considering spending a year or two as a SOCO (scene of crimes officer) to gain practical experience of crime scenes before settling on a definitive career route.

Tracey Barlow – Forensic Science and Investigative Analysis BSc(Hons)

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).

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