Forensic Science - BSc (Hons)

with a Foundation Year

Build your knowledge and skills for a solid foundation to study our Forensic Science degrees at Kent. Whether you’re looking for a change of career, or may not have the scientific background or entry requirements, our Foundation Year offers the opportunity to fill in any knowledge gaps and build your confidence.

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.

You get to grips with the science behind crime-scene scenarios and evidence gathering as well as gain insight into legal processes and training in the delivery of expert witness testimony. This range of skills and knowledge, along with our expert in-house careers advice, help give you the best possible start to your future.

As a foundation year student, you are a full member of the University and can take part in all student activities.

Our degree programme

This programme is for science students who do not meet the requirements for direct entry to Stage 1 of our degree programmes. It is also an excellent conversion course for applicants who have shown academic ability in non-science subjects. We also consider applicants without traditional academic qualifications who have relevant professional experience.

In your foundation year, you study chemistry, mathematics and take part in practical classes. On successful completion of your foundation year, you will have reached a standard above A level and so be fully equipped to tackle the BSc degree course.

In your first year of the BSc, 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.


Forensic Science student Sophia Warner explains what it's like studying 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. 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. It is also possible to take a four-year MSci where you'll work as part of a research group doing cutting-edge work and gain an edge in the job market.

If you have the grades and scientific background needed, you can look at direct entry on to our three year BSc in Forensic Science.

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
  • new crime scene house with a number of rooms set up with a number of scenarios to 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

    For those with a relevant science qualification our standard offer is CD with one of these to be Chemistry or Biology. For those without a relevant science qualification, our standard offer is BB. 

  • 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 BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF;OCR) at 120 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 11 at HL including HL Chemistry or Biology at 4 or SL Chemistry or Biology at 5.

  • medal-empty International Foundation Programme

    N/A

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

International students should visit our International Student website for further specific information. International fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot study part-time due to visa restrictions.

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.

After successfully completing the foundation year you can transfer on to any three or four year Forensic Science courses. Please refer to the BSc Forensic Science, BSc Forensic Science with a Year in Industry or Forensic Science MSci course for more information about specific modules for stages 1-4. 

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

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.

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 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.

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 plan and implement independent projects at degree 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. 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 Pfizer, LGC, the Police, 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.

Contact us

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International student enquiries

Enquire online

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

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