Forensic Science with a Year Abroad - BSc (Hons)

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If you excel at science, are keen to develop your investigative skills in a variety of scenarios and have meticulous attention to detail, you will enjoy studying Forensic Science at Kent. Fascinating and challenging, it opens up a wide range of career opportunities.

Overview

At Kent, you study all aspects of forensic science, developing scientific and analytical skills. We create ‘crime scenes’ - including using our brand new crime scene house - for you to examine and conduct ‘major incident’ exercises, where you react in real time to an unfolding event. We also demonstrate how your forensic skills can be used within archaeology and in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

This programme is fully accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences. All students on the programme are offered free student membership for the duration of their degree.

Our degree programme

In your first year, you get to grips with the broad base of knowledge on which forensic science is built, including biochemistry, drug chemistry, and ballistics. You also develop your investigative and laboratory skills.

In your second and final years, you expand your knowledge to cover analytical chemistry, forensic archaeology, digital forensics, fires and explosions, and firearms. You also study criminal law (taught by Kent’s highly ranked Law School) and are trained in forensic expert witness skills. In certain modules, you are taught by industry specialists.

You spend the third year of this four-year degree at one of our partner universities. As well as studying some relevant credits during your year abroad, you also get the chance to study new and unrelated subjects, giving you the chance to further broaden your knowledge and experience. The programme is also available without a year abroad. For more details, see Forensic Science.

If you do not have the grades for direct entry on to the Forensic Science BSc, you can take Forensic Science with a Foundation Year. It is also possible to take a four-year programme, which leads to an MSci.


Forensic Science student Sophia Warner explains what it's like studying at the University of Kent.

Study resources

We recently invested £10 million in our laboratories and improved our general study spaces. Facilities to support forensic science include:

  • dedicated ballistics and firearms kit
  • scene-of-crime facilities that allow you to apply the theory of crime scenes, evidence recovery and fingerprinting
  • a document examination instrument used in the detection of forged documents
  • a full analytical suite for forensic chemical analysis, including:
    • Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)
    • High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
    • Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS)
    • Raman Spectrometry
    • Fourier Transform Infra-Red Spectrometry (FTIR)
    • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM).

Extra activities

The School of Physical Sciences is home to an international scientific community of forensic science, chemistry, physics and astronomy students. Numerous formal and informal opportunities for discussion make it easy to participate in the academic life of the School. All students have an academic adviser and we also run a peer mentoring scheme.

You are encouraged to participate in conferences and professional events to build up your knowledge of the science community and enhance your professional development. The School also works collaboratively with business partners, which allows you to see how our research influences current practice.

You can also take part in:

  • the School’s Physical Sciences Colloquia, a popular series of talks given by internal and external experts on relevant and current topics
  • the student-run Forensic Science Society, which organises talks with top industry professionals, practical demonstrations and social events

Professional network

All students are offered free membership of The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

The School of Physical Sciences also has links with:

  • the Home Office
  • the Forensic Explosives Laboratory
  • forensic science services
  • local health authorities
  • biotechnology, chemical and pharmaceutical companies in the UK and Europe
  • Interpol.

Entry requirements

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

Please note that meeting this typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee an offer being made.Please also see our general entry requirements.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

  • medal-empty

    A level

    BBB in 3 subjects including Chemistry or Biology

  • medal-empty GCSE

    Mathematics grade C

  • medal-empty Access to HE Diploma

    The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

    If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

  • medal-empty BTEC Nationals

    The University will consider applicants holding/studying BTEC Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF;OCR) in a relevant Science subject at 180 credits or more, on a case by case basis. Please contact us via the enquiries tab for further advice on your individual circumstances. A typical offer would be Distinction*, Distinction, Distinction.

  • medal-empty International Baccalaureate

    34 points overall or 14 at HL including Chemistry or Biology 5 at HL and Mathematics 4 at HL or SL

Choosing Kent as your firm choice for this programme could result in a lower tariff offer than those listed below. Please contact the School for more information at spsadmissions@kent.ac.uk.  

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 science ready for undergraduate study, we offer a Foundation Year programme which can help boost your previous scientific experience.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice 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. 

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Course structure

Duration: 4 years full-time, 7 years part-time

After successfully completing stage 1 at your first attempt, with an average pass mark of at least 60%, you have the opportunity to spend a year abroad between Stages 2 and 3. We give advice and guidance on finding a placement.

Please note that acceptance onto the course is not a guarantee of a placement. The responsibility of finding a placement is on the student, with help and support from the department. If you cannot find a placement, you will be required to change your registration for the equivalent BSc programme without the Year Abroad option.

The course structure below gives a flavour of the modules and provides details of the content of this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

At all stages in this programme, the modules listed are compulsory.

Year abroad

You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the Year Abroad.  If the requirement is not met, you will be transferred to the equivalent three-year programme. The Year Abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification.

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally.  You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

Fees

The 2020/21 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home/EU full-time £9250
  • EU full-time TBC
  • International full-time £19800
  • Home/EU part-time £4625
  • EU part-time TBC
  • International part-time £9900

For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.

Full-time tuition fees for Home and EU undergraduates are £9,250.

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.* 

Your fee status

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.

Fees for Year in Industry

Full-time tuition fees for Home and EU undergraduates are £1,385.

Fees for Year Abroad

Full-time tuition fees for Home and EU undergraduates are £1,385.

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

Additional costs

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

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.

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. The year abroad mark also counts towards your final degree result. Coursework assessments include incident analysis, evidence preservation, presentation skills and expert witness testimony.

Please note that there are degree thresholds at stage 1 that you will be required to pass in order to continue onto the next stages.

Contact hours

For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours.  The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules.  Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.

Programme aims

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 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.
  • Develop your work-related skills and provide experience of workplace culture via a year abroad.
  • 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.

Learning outcomes

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.

Intellectual skills

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.

Subject-specific skills

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.

Transferable skills

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 function effectively in an industrial or commercial environment.
  • Ability to plan and implement independent projects at degree level.

Independent rankings

Forensic Science at Kent was ranked 5th in The Complete University Guide 2021.

In The Guardian University Guide 2020, over 94% of final-year Forensic Science students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.

Careers

Graduate destinations

Forensic skills are used in a range of professions and industries, for instance at disaster scenes, within archaeology and in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

Our graduates go into areas such as:

  • government agencies
  • forensic service providers
  • consultancies
  • emergency services
  • local authorities
  • contract laboratories
  • research or further vocational training.

Some of our graduates have gone on to work at the Forensic Explosives Laboratory, which is part of the Ministry of Defence and provides scientific support to the Police and Crown Prosecution Service.

Career-enhancing skills

You graduate with excellent forensic skills, including:

  • scene-of-crime skills
  • laboratory skills
  • document examination
  • criminal law and forensic expert witness skills.

In addition, you develop the key transferable skills that graduate employers look for, including:

  • excellent communication skills
  • working independently or as part of a team
  • the ability to analyse problems
  • time management.

You can also enhance your degree studies by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.

Help finding a job

The experience you have gained in your placement year will be attractive to employers, putting you in a good position as you look for full-time employment.

The University has a friendly Careers and Employability Service which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Apply for Forensic Science with a Year Abroad - BSc (Hons)

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2020/21 academic year. Please visit the 2021 entry course pages.

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

T: +44 (0)1227 823254
E: internationalstudent@kent.ac.uk

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