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Forensic science is a high-profile subject in the UK. It has received a lot of investment for expansion since the well-publicised miscarriages of justice in the 1970s. As a result, scientific liaison officers have been appointed by the police service and the knowledge and communication gap between the scientists and the police at a crime scene has narrowed. Forensic skills are used in a wide range of professions and industries; for instance, at disaster scenes, within archaeology and in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
New legislation has stimulated demand for authentication of materials, and for experts and analytical companies to carry out the work. Forensic scientists are specialists, but their skills have to bridge several disciplines within a legal context. At Kent, the core scientific content is taught by staff from the School of Physical Sciences and the legal background is taught by staff from Kent Law School. Additional content is delivered by expert practitioners from the field of forensic science.
This programme is for students who have previously studied science subjects but who lack the qualifications needed for direct entry into Stage 1 of the BSc.
Forensic Science at Kent was ranked 6th in The Complete University Guide 2017. In the National Student Survey 2016, Forensic Science at Kent was ranked 7th for overall satisfaction.
For graduate prospects, Forensic Science at Kent was ranked 5th in The Guardian University Guide 2017.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.
This programme is for students who have previously studied science subjects but who lack the qualifications needed for direct entry into Stage 1 of the BSc. It includes lectures in chemistry and mathematics, together with practical classes, and is taught entirely on the Canterbury campus.
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MA022 - Graphs, Geometry and Trigonometry
This module will focus on the topics which are fundamental across mathematics and the sciences. We will learn about the properties of many functions such as straight lines, quadratics, circles, exponentials, logarithms and the trigonometric functions. The focus of this module is on applied problem solving in many real-life situations, as well as some coverage of the rigorous theory behind many of these ideas. The material is delivered through lectures and examples classes, so that students have many different ways to learn. Many harder, extra-curricular examples are provided for keen students.Read more
PH020 - Algebra and Arithmetic
Simplification of fractions
Percentages and fractional changes
Logarithmic and exponential functions
Basic rules (operations and indices).
Solving equations (substitution and order of operation).
Changing subject of a formula
Rules of indices
Expansion and Factorisation
Solving linear and simultaneous equations
Binomial TheoremRead more
PS021 - Molecules and Analysis
The mole; chemical equations; titrations; atoms and molecules; energy levels; acids and bases; orbitals; bonds; molecular shapes; spectra; bond energies, hydrogen bonding.Read more
PS022 - Chemical Reactivity
Lattice energy; polymorphism; chemical equilibrium; the Periodic Table; solubilities; transition metals; isomerism; organic chemicals; shapes of organic molecules; organic analysis; optical activity; basic reactions of organic compounds; organic problem-solving; reaction kinetics.Read more
PS023 - Properties of Matter
States of matter; radioactivity; real and ideal gases; water. main group inorganic chemistry; phase diagrams, ideal solutions; miscibility, electrochemistry, forensic science techniques.Read more
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PS301 - Introduction to Forensic Science
Forensic Science; Evidence and the Scene of the Crime
What is forensic science? Historical and legal background of forensic science exchange principles and linkage theory. Forensic science in the U.K inductive and deductive reasoning. Identification, characterisation, recovery and weighting of trace evidence types. Crime scene searching methodologies; the integrity and continuity of evidence. Introduction to laboratory testing dealing with glass, tool-mark, shoe-mark and tyre impressions. The management of scientific support at crime scenes. Procedures at crime scenes illustrated by reference to crimes of burglary, murder and sexual offences. Fingerprint history, classification, recovery and chemical enhancement of fingerprints. Blood pattern analysis supporting the advances in DNA techniques. Firearms classification, internal & external ballistics, trajectory, mass and velocity. Firearms injuries at crime scenes. Introduction to DNA analysis and the functioning of the National DNA Database. Sexual offence investigation and body fluid identification. Clinical indicators of death and murder scene investigation.
Drug Abuse, Alcohol and Forensic Toxicology
Drugs of abuse and their identification. Drugs, alcohol poisons and their metabolism. Toxicology and the role of the forensic toxicologist. Qualitative and quantitative laboratory analysis.
Signature and handwriting identification. Paper, inks and printed documents. Damage characterisation.
Fires and Explosions:
Arson. Fire and combustion. Types of explosives and the nature of explosions. The crime scene investigation: sampling and laboratory analysis.Read more
PS318 - Skills for Forensic Scientists
Quantitative skills beginning with GCSE mathematics through to algebra, data analysis, graphical treatment of errors, logarithms, basic probability, trigonometry and applications in forensic science.
Incident scene assessment, management and mapping.
Induction to the English legal system and laws of evidence.
The structure and composition of DNA, genetic analysis and applications relevant to forensic science.Read more
PS324 - Introduction to Ballistics
Mathematical Concepts for Impact Studies
Newton's laws of motion
Introduction to ballistics
Categories of weapons
Overview of Forensic Ballistics
The 1968 Firearms Act (as amended)
Categorisation of firearms and ammunition
Shooting case studiesRead more
PS381 - Chemical Skills For Forensic Scientists
Laboratory safety: lectures on laboratory safety including safe handling of chemicals, electrical supplies, solvents and gases both within and outside fume cupboards, safe disposal of chemicals, CoSHH and risk assessment, accident prevention.
Laboratory skills: the completion of a set of experiments in a lab environment within the safety structure as laid out by lab risk assessments. To include: fundamental organic chemistry methodology, chemical handling, use of equipment (including calibration and accuracy), infra-red spectroscopy, analytical chemistry and titrations, colorimetry, gravimetric analysis, solvent extraction.
Data presentation methods: the correct and succinct planning and preparation of scientific reports, correct referencing, data manipulation and presentation, literature searches and library catalogues, academic integrity and referencing styles.
Periodic table and inorganic chemistry: Periodic trends in the periodic table: chemical properties, reactivity and compounds across periods 1 and 2, introduction to diagonal relationships; hydrogen and its compounds; Group 1 the alkali metals, their compounds and reactivity; Group 2 the alkaline earth metals, their compounds and reactivity; introduction to redox chemistry; the p-block: Group 13 elements, their properties and reactivity, the inert pair effect, the chemistry of boron; Group 14 elements, properties, compounds and reactivities, carbon and its allotropes; Group 15: the chemistry of the pnictogens, nitrogen, phosphorus and its allotropes; Group 16: the chemistry of the chalcogens; Group 17: the chemistry of the halogens; extension to MO and VSEPR theory; introduction to groups 12 and 18.
Molecular graphics: use of MarvinSketch to represent and draw chemical structures and calculate molecular properties, using J-mol and J-ice to present molecular and crystal structures graphically, use of HULIS software to calculate energy levels from Hückel theory.
Maths for physical scientists: basic mathematics and functions used in physical sciences, curve sketching and plotting simple functions, differentiation and integration, examples of physical science applications including chemical reaction rates.Read more
CH308 - Molecules Matter & Energy
This module introduces and revises the basic concepts of chemistry that underpin our understanding of the stability of matter. This starts with introducing atomic and molecular structure, with a focus on understanding the electronics of bonding in the molecular compounds around us. You will then study the laws governing the behavior of gases and origins of other interactions that hold solids and liquids together, alongside describing some of their basic properties such as conductivity, viscosity, and the way in which ions behave in solution. In the final aspect of this module we cover the critical role thermodynamics plays in determining the stability of matter, including the fundamental laws of thermodynamics and the importance of equilibrium in reversible reactions.Read more
CH309 - Fundamental Organic Chemistry for Physical Scientists
This module reintroduces the basic concepts of organic chemistry that are vital in understanding pharmaceutical and biological substances. You will study the basics of the chemistry of carbon, the element critical to underpinning life, including its basic building blocks and functional groups. We also cover the mechanisms by which basic organic reactions including elimination, substitution and oxidation processes occur. This module concludes with studying aromatic compounds and chirality, which crucially influence how organic molecules interact within living systems.Read more
CH314 - Introduction to Biochemistry and Drug Chemistry
Chemistry in context
Using an organic chemistry perspective, you will study the fundamentals of biochemistry, the chemistry of life, including enzyme reactions, protein chemistry, DNA, lipids and carbohydrates. These topics are underpinned by the role chemical phenomena such as thermodynamics and intermolecular interactions play in a biological context. We then explore the nature and discovery of drugs, how they work, and the potential effects of their misuse.Read more
Teaching and assessment
There are approximately eight one-hour lectures each week, laboratory classes, project work and problem-solving seminars.
Assessment is by a combination of written examinations, continuous assessment and other assignments. You must pass the Stage 1 examinations in order to go on to Stage 2. Coursework assessments include incident analysis, evidence preservation, presentation skills and expert witness testimony.
Please note that you must pass all modules of the foundation year in order to progress onto stage 1.
The programme aims to:
- instil enthusiasm for forensic science, an appreciation of its application in different contexts
- provide a broad and balanced foundation of the science and law that underpins forensic practice and methodology in a modern society
- develop knowledge of the key skills, concepts, theories and practice that underpin forensic science in order to prepare you for stage one of the undergraduate programme
- develop the ability to apply knowledge and skills to the solution of forensic problems
- teach you the use and understanding of a variety of scientific and quantitative techniques applied to forensic science problems
- provide a knowledge and skills base from which you can proceed to further studies in the forensic and scientific area or in aspects of chemistry, physics or bioscience that are relevant to forensic and related practices
- provide a stimulating, research-active environment for teaching and learning
- provide an understanding of scientific methodology and the ability to undertake and report on an experimental investigation
- generate an appreciation of the importance of forensic science and its practice in a judicial, industrial, economic, environmental and social context, and of the importance of chemistry in an industrial, economic, forensic, and social context.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- core and foundation scientific physical, biological, and chemical concepts, terminology, theory, units, conventions, and laboratory methods in relation to forensic science
- areas of chemistry as applied to forensic analysis, and areas of bioscience, including cells, biochemistry, human DNA
- numeracy, forensic investigation and interpretation and apply them to forensic examination and analysis
- incident investigation, evidence recovery, preservation, and presentation as an expert witness within the judicial environment.
You gain intellectual skills in how to:
- demonstrate knowledge, understanding and application of essential facts, concepts, principles and theories relating to the subject to find the solution of qualitative and quantitative problems
- recognise and analyse novel problems and plan strategies for their solution by the evaluation, interpretation and synthesis of scientific information and data by a variety of computational methods
- recognise and implement good measurement science and practice and commonly used forensic laboratory techniques
- write essays and present scientific material and arguments clearly and correctly, in writing and orally, to a range of audiences including legal contexts
- communicate complex scientific argument to a lay audience.
You gain the following subject-specific skills:
- safe handling of chemical materials, taking into account their physical and chemical properties, including any specific hazards associated with their use and to risk assess such hazards
- conduct of standard laboratory procedures involved in analytical work and in the operation of standard forensic instrumentation
- competence in the planning, design and execution of investigations, from the problem-recognition stage through to the evaluation and appraisal of results and findings
- safe handling of firearms, ammunition, and propellants; analysis of forensic evidence related to firearms, firearm discharge, and ballistic theory; collision analysis: mathematical interpretation, field application and reconstruction
- ability to interpret data derived from laboratory observations and measurements, and to present such data to an examining body in the role of expert witness.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- communication skills covering both written and oral communication
- self-management and organisational skills with the capacity to support life-long learning
- problem-solving skills, relating to qualitative and quantitative information
- information-retrieval skills, in relation to primary and secondary information sources
- IT skills
- interpersonal skills
- time-management and organisational skills
- study skills needed for continuing professional development and preparation for employment as a practicing forensic scientist
- ability to plan and implement independent projects at degree level.
The skills you gain studying forensic science equip you for a range of jobs where the ability to analyse problems and combine disciplinary perspectives is required. Recent graduates have gone into areas such as government agencies, consultancies, emergency services, local authorities, contract laboratories, research or further vocational training.
For graduate prospects, Forensic Science at Kent was ranked 5th in The Guardian University Guide 2017.
All applications for the Foundation Year will be considered individually, however evidence of previous level 3 (i.e. A level, BTEC, etc.) relevant scientific study is required.
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.
It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.
New GCSE grades
If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.
The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.
If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.
Meet our staff in your country
For more advise about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.
English Language Requirements
Please see our English language entry requirements web page.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
The 2017/18 tuition fees for this programme are:
UK/EU fee paying students
The Government has announced changes to allow undergraduate tuition fees to rise in line with inflation from 2017/18.
In accordance with changes announced by the UK Government, we are increasing our 2017/18 regulated full-time tuition fees for new and returning UK/EU fee paying undergraduates from £9,000 to £9,250. The equivalent part-time fees for these courses will also rise from £4,500 to £4,625. This was subject to us satisfying the Government's Teaching Excellence Framework and the access regulator's requirements. This fee will ensure the continued provision of high-quality education.
For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.*
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
General additional costs
Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details.
You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.
The Government has confirmed that EU students applying for university places in the 2017 to 2018 academic year will still have access to student funding support for the duration of their course.
Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.
The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence
At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.
The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.