Forensic Science

Forensic Science - MSci

Enhance your scientific and analytical skills with our four-year Integrated Master’s course in Forensic Science at Kent. As well as developing a range of knowledge and skills including the science behind crime-scene scenarios and insight into legal processes and training in the delivery of expert witness testimony, the MSci course provides you with an exciting opportunity to complete your own research project in an area that fascinates you.

Overview

In helping you to understand the real life applications of your degree, you get the opportunity to work on ‘crime scenes’ - including using our new crime scene house - where you will examine and conduct ‘major incident’ exercises and 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.

You benefit from our expert careers advice to give you the best possible start to your future career. Give yourself a competitive edge in the job market with this postgraduate qualification at Kent.

This programme is fully accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Our degree programme

Like the subjects themselves, our curriculum is constantly changing and adapting based on research and the demands of industry, ensuring your course is innovative and up-to-date.

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 third 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.

In the final year of your MSci programme, you develop your skills and knowledge further by undertaking a research project and exploring how to develop an idea into a fully worked-up research proposal.

Forensic Science student Sophia Warner talks about her course at the University of Kent.

Your degree, your way

Our degrees are not only designed to give the best possible start to your career, but they are also flexible so that you can do the best degree for you. As well as our three year BSc in forensic Science, you can opt to complete a Professional Placement to put into practice the skills you learnt and make valuable industry contacts or study abroad for a year.

If you do not have the grades or scientific background for direct entry on to the Forensic Science BSc, you can take Forensic Science with a Foundation Year.

Fantastic facilities

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).

An excellent student experience

As well as a fascinating course with great opportunities to further your career potential, we work hard to give you the best possible wider student experience.

You will be part of an international scientific community of physics and astronomy, chemistry and forensic science, bioscience and medical and sport science students, as well as being able to join a range of student-led societies and groups.

As well as inspiring you to realise your potential, we are here to support you with excellent in-house student support to assist with pastoral issues and careers experts with specialist knowledge as well as Academic Advisors and Peer Mentors to help with your studies.

Professional networks

You are encouraged to participate in conferences and professional events to build up your knowledge of the science community and enhance your professional development.

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

Flexible tariff

You are more than your grades

At Kent we look at your circumstances as a whole before deciding whether to make you an offer to study here. Find out more about how we offer flexibility and support before and during your degree.

Entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

  • 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.

  • medal-empty International Baccalaureate

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

  • medal-empty International Foundation Programme

    Pass all components of the University of Kent International Foundation Programme with a 60% overall average.

Please contact the School for more information at study-forensics@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.

If you need to improve your English language standard as a condition of your offer, you can attend one of our pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes before starting your degree programme. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.

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Course structure

Duration: 4 years full-time

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.

Fees

The 2021/22 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

  • Home full-time £9250
  • EU full-time £15400
  • International full-time £20500

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

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.

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 A*AA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.

We have a range of subject-specific awards and scholarships for academic, sporting and musical achievement.

Search scholarships

Teaching and assessment

Teaching involves a combination of 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 there are degree thresholds at stages 2 and 3 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 and 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
  • Extend this knowledge and practical ability to an advanced level in selected specialist area and subjects
  • 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, based in part on an extended research project
  • Prepare you for a professional role in forensic science within the criminal or civil judicial system, with the skill necessary to present evidence
  • Generate an appreciation of the importance of forensic science and chemistry, 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.
  • Advanced theory, concepts and practice in the forensic field.
  • 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.
  • Command, management and logistics of major incidents such as air or rail accidents; emergency and disaster planning.

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 solve forensic-related problems at an advanced level.
  • Recognise and implement good measurement science and practice and commonly used forensic laboratory techniques.
  • Select the most appropriate techniques for a given analysis and to use a wide range of advanced apparatus.
  • Write essays and present scientific material and arguments clearly and correctly, in writing and orally, to a range of audiences including in 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 risk assessment of such hazards.
  • Conduct of standard laboratory procedures involved in analytical work and 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.
  • Research project planning and implementation.
  • 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.
  • Evidence recovery, preservation, analysis and presentation to professional standards.

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.
  • Skills in effective research costing and planning.
  • Study skills needed for continuing professional development and preparation for employment as a practising forensic scientist.
  • Skills relevant to a career in forensic science (practice or judiciary) and forensic research.
  • Ability to plan and implement large-scale independent projects at MSci level.

Independent rankings

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

Over 90% of final-year Forensic Science students were satisfied with the quality of their course in The Guardian University Guide 2021.

Careers

Your future

You graduate with an excellent grounding in scientific knowledge and extensive laboratory experience. Completing an MSci will give you extra valuable skills in conducting and directing scientific research, data analysis and interpretation, problem solving and communication. In addition, you also develop the key transferable skills sought by employers, such as:

  • excellent communication skills
  • work independently or as part of a team
  • the ability to solve problems and think analytically
  • time management.

This means that our graduates are well equipped for careers across a range of fields and have gone on to work for companies such as Cellmark, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and the Forensic Explosives Laboratory which is part of the Ministry of Defence and provides scientific support to the Police and Crown Prosecution Service. 

You can read their stories, and find out about the range of support and extra opportunities available to further your career potential.

Applications

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2021/22 academic year. Please visit the 2022 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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