Forensic Science - BSc (Hons)

with a Foundation Year

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. Enter the fascinating world of Forensic Science at Kent to gain knowledge and practical skills in crime scene incident investigation, evidence recovery and analysis.

Overview

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.

This fascinating and challenging course teaches you skills that are attractive to employers in all fields, giving you the best possible start towards your future career.

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 it 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

  • In The Guardian University Guide 2022, Forensic Science was ranked 7th overall, and 90% of our final-year students were satisfied with the quality of their course.
  • Apply your knowledge and practical skills in our fantastic forensic investigation facilities, which include a crime scene house and vehicles along with industry standard laboratories.
  • Spend a year on professional placement gaining valuable experience before you graduate. It’s also possible to spend a year studying abroad.
  • 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.
  • Our Forensic Science degree is accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.


What you'll learn

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 the first year of your degree, 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.

Our crime scene 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 career and to develop many transferable skills for the future.

See the modules you'll study

After successfully completing your foundation year it is also possible to add a professional placement year or a year abroad, or take a four-year programme with a final-year research project that leads to an MSci.

Flexible tariff

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

  • 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 Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

    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

    30 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

  • medal-empty T level

    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.

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 above. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. Please also see our general entry requirements.

If you are an international student, visit our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country, including details of the International Foundation Programmes. Please note that international fee-paying students who require a Student visa cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.

Please note that meeting the typical offer/minimum requirement does not guarantee that you will receive an offer.

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.

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. 

Foundation year

Compulsory modules currently include

This module covers a range of arithmetic and algebraic aspects of maths, including: Lowest Common Multiples/Highest Common Factors, Significant Figures, Scientific/Engineering Notation, Fractions, Percentages, Indices, Functions, Logarithmic and Exponential Equations, Algebraic Long Division, Factorisation, Quadratic Equations, Linear and Simultaneous Equations, Partial Fractions and Binomial Theorem.

Find out more about PHYS0020

Graphical methods are powerful, visual tools to illustrate relationships in theories, and in experimental quantities, pertaining to physical phenomena. They involve knowledge of, and visual representation of mathematical functions frequently encountered in the physical sciences. The topics covered are expected to include:

Graphs of functions including straight lines, quadratics, 1/x and 1/x2.

Parametric equations for curves, including use in modelling phenomena in physical sciences.

Coordinate geometry of lines and circles, including calculations with angles in radians.

Trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangent), and reciprocal and inverse trigonometric functions.

Formulae involving small angles, sums of angles, and products of trigonometric functions.

Solving trigonometric equations in the context of modelling phenomena in physical sciences.

Vectors in one, two and three dimensions, and notations for representing them.

Algebraic operations of vector addition and multiplication by scalars.

Use of vectors in modelling phenomena in physical sciences.

Find out more about PHYS0022

The mole; chemical equations; titrations; atoms and molecules; energy levels; acids and bases; orbitals; bonds; molecular shapes; spectra; bond energies, hydrogen bonding, analytical methods - IR, UV-Vis, NMR).

Find out more about PSCI0021

This module will cover 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.

Find out more about PSCI0022

This module will cover states of matter; radioactivity; real and ideal gases; water. Main group inorganic chemistry; phase diagrams, ideal solutions; miscibility, electrochemistry, forensic science techniques.

Find out more about PSCI0023

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

An introduction to the core Mathematical skills required within the Chemical and Forensic Sciences. These core skills will be complemented with a variety of problem-solving applications in Chemistry and Forensic Science.

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 of this module will focus on not only academic research projects but also on future employability skills related to working in industry.

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 £9250
  • 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

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 8th in The Complete University Guide 2022.

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

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

Apply now to Kent

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

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