Forensic Science

Forensic Science - MSci

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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

We create simulated crime scenes and conduct major incident exercises where you react in real time to an unfolding event. You can even prepare a case for court and present in at a simulated trial in a realistic court environment. You’ll see how forensic skills can also be applied within archaeology and in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

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

Reasons to study Forensic Science at Kent

  • Forensic Science was ranked 8th in The Complete University Guide 2022 and 90% of our final-year students were satisfied with the quality of their course in The Guardian University Guide 2022.
  • Our fantastic forensic investigation facilities include a crime scene house and vehicles where you get the chance to apply the skills you’ve learnt in a real-world environment.
  • Gain an edge in the job market with a final year project where you'll join a research group doing cutting-edge work.
  • Our unique courses teach you the science behind the crime scenes, as well as criminal law and specialist modules such as ballistics, DNA analysis and digital forensics.


What you'll learn

You start by getting to grips with the broad base of knowledge on which forensic science is built, including core chemistry, biochemistry, drug chemistry, and ballistics. You also develop solid investigative and laboratory skills.

Next you build on this knowledge to cover analytical chemistry, forensic archaeology, digital forensics, fires and explosions, and firearms. You also are trained in forensic expert witness skills. In certain modules, you are taught by industry specialists. Our crime scenes house helps you to develop your approaches to evidence recording and preservation, and to appreciate the importance of persistence.

Extensive use of these practical sessions helps to prepare you for the diverse nature of crime scenes you may encounter in your future careers and to develop many transferable skills for the future.

In your final year 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.

If you do not have the grades or previous science qualifications for direct entry on to the Forensic Science BSc, you can take Forensic Science with a Foundation Year. It is also possible to studying abroad for a year.

See the modules you'll study

Accreditation

Fully accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Entry requirements

Make Kent your firm choice – The Kent Guarantee

We understand that applying for university can be stressful, especially when you are also studying for exams. Choose Kent as your firm choice on UCAS and we will guarantee you a place, even if you narrowly miss your offer (for example, by 1 A Level grade)*.

*exceptions apply. Please note that we are unable to offer The Kent Guarantee to those who have already been given a reduced or contextual offer.

Entry requirements

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

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Some typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. Please also see our general entry requirements.

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.

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    A level

    BBB in 3 subjects including Chemistry or Biology

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    Mathematics grade C

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    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.

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    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.

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

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    N/A

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    The University will consider applicants holding T Level qualifications in subjects which are closely aligned to the programme applied for. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you do not meet our English language requirements, 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

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.

Stage 1

Compulsory modules currently include

This module presents a unified understanding of the structure of matter, linking physical properties to bonding and energy, and providing the tools necessary to begin to describe and analyse chemical problems. Key concepts such as mass balance and bonding (ionic, covalent, metallic, and intermolecular) are linked to analytical methods to show how these fundamental ideas can be measured and used.

Find out more about CHEM3600

Organic chemistry underpins not only much of the chemistry of living things but also modern materials, dyes, medicines, and more. This module discusses the structure of organic molecules in detail, showing the shape of molecules dictates their properties, and how Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy (NMR) can exploit this to determine the structures and thus properties of unknown molecules. Fundamental modes of reactivity of organic molecules are discussed, showing how simple mechanisms can be used to build complex and useful compounds.

Find out more about CHEM3610

This module discusses the key ideas of thermodynamics and kinetics in a chemical context. It shows how the universe may be understood in terms of the flow of energy from high to low, and how this allows not only an understanding of what transformations are possible but also how fast they will occur. These essential physical principles are then applied to real world phenomena such as batteries, showing that even the most fundamental theories have direct and important applications in the modern world.

Find out more about CHEM3640

Chemistry, as one of the physical sciences, is rooted in careful observation of the natural world and experimentation. This module teaches the key skills required to work in a chemical laboratory, analysing unknown systems and synthesising new ones, and learning how to apply the theories and ideas from lecture modules to socially and industrially relevant problems.

Find out more about CHEM3900

In this module students will experience a broad overview of evidence categories and crime types commonly encountered within the criminal justice system. Students will also be taken through a range of techniques associated with the delivery of forensic science to support this system.

Find out more about FSCI3010

This module introduces a range of forensically-relevant practical techniques from the initial processing of incident or crime scenes through to carrying out relevant laboratory analyses of evidence collected.

Find out more about FSCI3020

This module will provide forensic science students with some of the core understanding in inorganic and physical chemistry. These aspects will underpin students' understanding of Analytical Techniques and the Chemistry related to various forensic processes, leading to an enhanced understanding of Forensic Chemistry.

Find out more about FSCI3030

This module introduces students to the mathematical, physical, social and legal concepts that underpin academic study in the field of forensic ballistics.

Find out more about FSCI3080

One-on-one meetings and group tutorials focused on academic progression and the development of key skills to support the core curriculum and future study or employment. Students meet with their Academic Advisor individually or in groups at intervals during the academic year. Individual meetings review academic progress, support career planning etc. Themed tutorials develop transferable skills; The tutorials are informal involving student activity and discussion. Year group events deliver general information e.g. on University resources, 4-year programmes, module selection etc.

Find out more about PSCI3020

Stage 2

Compulsory modules currently include

Analytical chemistry underpins all other aspects of the discipline, and covers not only how to find out what a thing is but how to design experiments and confirm results to quantify just how confident you can be that your answer is useful. This module takes a pragmatic, applications driven approach to sample preparation, analysis, and data validation.

This course will introduce students to the key ideas and fundamental molecular components of biochemistry. The course will cover simple biomolecules and non-covalent interactions, building up to biological oligomers. This will lead to introductory pharmacology and pharmacokinetics, illustrated with medicinal chemistry case studies.

This module will develop the students’ appreciation of a range of physical techniques applied, to the collection of bulk and trace evidence materials in forensic science.Students will look more deeply into aspects of physical evidence and will deal with the practical issues of item examination, legal process and general procedure associated with the collection and submission of a range of forensically-relevant materials.

This module introduces students to a range of scene investigation and evidence processing techniques through a combination of laboratory-based training exercises and simulated scene investigation scenarios.

This module offers students experience in a wide range of important forensic investigative and analytical skills relating to other taught and practical modules in the forensic programme. Students will also have the opportunity to build computational skills through the use facial composite software.

This module covers a range of techniques that can be applied to the discovery, aging and identification of buried and ancient remains or artefacts.

This module covers a broad range of established and emerging, computer based, forensic methods. It is organised into three units: Facial Identification Techniques, focusing on facial composite construction; Image Processing, Photo Forensics and Digital Forensics.

This module will give students a background in forensic ballistics, including the investigation of shooting scenes, firearms law and wound ballistics.

Stage 3

Compulsory modules currently include

Analytical chemistry underpins all other aspects of the discipline. This module discusses modern methods in data analysis and processing, Cheminformatics and “Big Data”, and describes advanced analytical methods used for analysing complex systems.

This module covers a range of core chemical science that relates to fire and explosive events. The applied investigation of such events is also discussed to give students a wider appreciation of previous case studies and the complexities of post-fire and post-blast investigations.

This module discusses the legal processes associated with the submission of evidence in the courts of law alongside providing training in the delivery of expert witness testimony. Students will undergo a mock courtroom exercise in which they will deliver expert testimony in a courtroom environment.

This module intends to illustrate the contemporary topics, underpinning professional practice those students wishing to enter the forensic science profession. The indicative content draws upon much of the guidance, published by the Forensic Science Regulator, UKAS, ENFSI, CSOFS as well as academic and professional commentary. The module covers several broad topics – namely, evaluative reporting, Case Assessment and Interpretation (CAI), quality standards, ethics in forensic science and bias.

This module will provide Forensic Scientists with an understanding of the chemistry behind the analysis of trace evidence. Students will be introduced to how complex instrumentation is used in these analyses and provide the background concepts needed to understand and interpret data.

This module comprises a range of contemporary topics covering methods of analysis and the interpretational issues associated with forensic DNA profiling. The materials take students through the evolution of forensic DNA; RFLP, Quad and the progression of DNA multiplexes to the present day and the practical issues of sample collection, processing and storage, DNA theory and practical DNA processing. Students will appreciate the difficulties associated with mixed samples and the statistical interpretation associated with both single source and mixture interpretation. The module draws upon the latest materials published by the Forensic Science Regulator and the latest quality and legal standards associated with DNA profiling. The module is contextualised throughout using a range of contemporary case studies.

This module will provide students with the skills necessary to propose, develop, perform and report on a project. The emphasis on of this module will focus on not only academic projects but also on industrial requirements.

This module will underpin the idea of interrelated experiments and extend the ideas taught in the Project and Research Management module. Students will learn to think more critically about data and resource collection and interpretation.

Stage 4

Compulsory modules currently include

This module will provide students with enhanced research skills such as thinking critically, learning to be unbiased and providing fair evaluation. The content of this module will also embed employability skills. Case studies will provide context for the academia/practitioner divide and the interplay between research and application over time.

This module will include elements of synthetic organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry which are relevant to substances of abuse, as well as the theoretical chemistry and principles of analysis and identification of several substances that are substances of abuse. The following are indicative: Amphetamines and related compounds; LSD and related compounds; Cannabis and Cannabis products; Opiate compounds; Cocaine and related compounds; Certain controlled pharmaceutical drugs

This module will cover the core principles behind the management and investigation processes that may relate to a range of forensically-relevant incident types. Indicative areas of discussion may include investigation of civil infrastructure incidents, disaster victim identification (DVI), acts of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) as well as managing forensic resources over a range of major and smaller incidents. 

"PSCI7400"

Fees

The 2022/23 annual tuition fees for UK undergraduate courses have not yet been set by the UK Government. As a guide only the 2021/2022 fees for this course were £9,250.

  • Home full-time TBC
  • EU full-time £15900
  • International full-time £21200

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 8th in The Complete University Guide 2022.

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.

Apply for this course

If you are from the UK or Ireland, you must apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not from the UK or Ireland, you can choose to apply through UCAS or directly on our website.

Find out more about how to apply

All applicants

Apply through UCAS

International applicants

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