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BSc (Hons) Forensic Science

Learn how to ask the questions relevant to investigating a crime. Develop the scientific expertise that underpins criminal investigation, including retrieval of evidence, examination of evidence as a scientist, and delivery of opinion in court.


Develop your skills in simulated crime scenes and mock courts


Entry requirements

Three A-levels at grades BBC and above to include a Science Subject, preferably Chemistry or Biology. Other sciences are considered.

Or BTEC triple grades DMM or above in a science subject.

Or Access 30-42 D/M with min 18D in a science or science related subject. This does not include Social Science or Psychology.

And GCSE English Language, Maths and Science at grade 4 or grade C or above.

 

 


UCAS points 112

UCAS code 616G

Duration Three years full-time or six years part-time

Course Summary

Our BSc (Hons) Forensic Science degree readies you to apply science to crime scene investigation. You'll understand the part forensic science plays in the criminal justice system and learn how to control, preserve, record, and recover evidence from a crime scene or other incidents.

You'll study crime, develop the skills required for crime scene investigation and the seizure of evidence, learn the forensic science techniques for testing physical evidence from crime scenes in the laboratory, write a witness statement for court and give evidence or oral testimony in a mock court setting.

You'll also examine crime in the context in which it happens in the local, national and international arenas. On campus you'll have access to realistic, simulated environments including a well-equipped forensic laboratory and a crime scene house, in which you'll get authentic experience of collecting and analysing evidence from simulated domestic crime scenes.

BSc (Hons) Forensic Science blends theory with practice in the forms of research and 'real life' case studies. It has been awarded Conditional Educational Accreditation (CEA) by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, which recognises both the quality and quantity of the forensic science content of the degree.

Show video transcript

The large Criminology lab offers a wide range of scientific equipment and ample workstations.

Students are examining the anatomy in relation to bone structure or density. They are calculating height and weight and looking for peculiarities that translate in determinants of the suspect.

Other students are using a microscope. They are examining a cell for cell abnormality or gene structure as physical evidence that can be used to indicate or eliminate persons of interest in a case.

Why this course at Marjon?

Learn the science of gathering and testing physical evidence in weekly lab classes.

Taught by an expert team of experienced forensic scientists and working police officers.

Small class sizes give you hands-on experience and on-to-one access to tutors.

On campus facilities include forensic laboratories and simulated environments in Marjon's crime scene house.

Collaboration or volunteering opportunities with our partner agencies including Devon and Cornwall Police, Derriford Hospital Emergency Department and Police Forensic Capability Network.

Learn through mock court experiences.

Modules for this course

Course Snapshot

The degree builds from a basic understanding of crime scene investigation and laboratory skills to an application of sciences in forensic chemistry and forensic biology. It then leads to more complex understanding of crime scene management, forensic evidence analysis and forensic anthropology. Law and court room processes are included to enable the interpretation and understanding of the presentation of evidence in court. The third-year dissertation provides opportunity for a student to develop their own area of research interest.
Dr Sarah Gardner - Course Leader

Modules

1st Year

Introduction to Crime Scene Investigation
This is an introduction to practical crime scene investigation. It will equip you with an understanding of crime scene types and an understanding of evidence types and the value of evidence. You'll learn how to process and recover forensic evidence. You'll also explore the flow of information from crime scene to court and how this is regulated.
Introductory Scientific Studies 
This subject will provide key theoretical and practical scientific skills in Chemistry. It will include theoretical chemistry such as the periodic table, molecular structure as well as basic organic chemistry and basic maths. You will also have weekly laboratory sessions where you will learn practical chemistry skills and use analytical equipment.
Anatomy and Physiology
This subject will provide key theoretical and practical scientific skills in Biology. It helps you to engage with the complex discipline of human anatomy and physiology, which underpins many of the applied forensic biology specialisms. Each of the human body systems will be introduced and explorer both theoretically and practically. This module will include weekly laboratory sessions which will provide a grounding in practical techniques such as microscopy and accurate recording.
Forensic Science
The Forensic Science module provides an overview of the breadth and scope of forensic science whilst putting everything into context. Several disciplines of forensic science will be presented, alongside topics such as the value of evidence and the role of the expert witness. The module will be taught through a series of lectures, practical laboratory sessions and tutorials.
Forensic Trace Analysis
During this module you will develop an understanding of the importance of trace materials such as hair, fibres, glass, fingerprints, paint and gunshot residue, as items of forensic evidence. Issues relating to transfer and persistence will also be examined. During the weekly laboratory sessions, you will learn about methods of detection, recovery, analysis and how to interpret the results.
Forensic Quality Standards
This module will provide an introduction to Forensic Quality Standards including the ways that forensic science is regulated within the United Kingdom; the importance of ethics, integrity and continuity as well as reporting.

2nd Year

Law and The Expert Witness
This subject will introduce you to criminal law within a forensic context and will contain content on what constitutes a crime; the police hierarchy and the role of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS); UK court rooms and their personnel; an introduction to case assessment and interpretation (CAI) and the Forensic Expert Witness and presenting evidence in court.
Future Forensics  
The Future Forensics module will teach you about new developments in the everchanging discipline of Forensic Science. It is a dynamic module that aims to keep you updated about new and innovative research and techniques used within various subdisciplines including for example, forensic roadside testing, crime scene forensics, fire investigation and digital forensics. This module is taught via lectures and seminars.
Forensic Biology
This module will introduce and allow you to build a foundation of knowledge regarding the key concepts of Forensic Biology by provided a detailed introduction to the different kinds of evidence examined by Forensic Biologists and the methods employed for analysis and interpretation. You will be taught all aspects of Forensic Biology including, DNA profiling, Body Fluid Analysis and Blood Pattern Analysis.
Mass Disaster Victim Identification
The Mass Disaster Victim Identification module introduces the stages, principles and applications of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) process and the role it plays in facilitating the identification of disaster victims. Integral to this module is an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the multi-agency response to mass disasters; management and logistics; primary, secondary and assistance methods of victim identification as well as an understanding of both the ante-mortem and post-mortem processes and procedures. This module will be taught through a series of lectures, practicals and tutorials.
Research Methods
This subject prepares you for your dissertation and provides guidance on how to undertake an original piece of quantitative, laboratory based research. The module is taught through a series of lectures, seminars and tutorials. During these sessions you will explore the process of research project design; controls and variables within quantitative research; analysis of quantitative data using statistical packages such as SPSS and how to write in an appropriate academic style.
Crime Scene Photography
Visual evidence has become a significant part of criminal investigations and the role of the crime scene photographer has become an important part of the whole investigation and examination of the crime scene. Not only will you obtain the skills to assess and photograph a scene, you will also pick up life skills by learning how to photograph and use the settings on a camera.

3rd Year

Forensic Investigation Honours Project
This is a student led module where you will formulate a research question relevant to Forensic Science that will be tested within the laboratory. You will be required to develop your own laboratory methods based on peer-reviewed scientific literature, to carry out practical based data collection. You will undertake statistical analysis and interpretation of your data to answer the research question posed; this will culminate in the production of a dissertation.
Advanced Forensic Analysis
This module includes the theory and practice of analytical chemistry for the detection, analysis and identification of drugs in forensic cases, as well as other analytical techniques such as infrared spectrophotometry, UV/VIS spectroscopy and the theory of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. This module addresses the importance of these analytical techniques and their ability to solve forensic problems by identifying compounds through chemistry and analytical means.
Case Assessment and Interpretation
This subject teaches you the tools that you need to interpret a forensic case and take it to court. You will learn about Bayes Theorem, DNA statistics, the Hierarchy of Propositions and how to give evidence in court as an Expert Witness.
Forensic Anthropology
This module will build a foundation of knowledge regarding key concepts of forensic anthropology. The objective of this module is to help you engage with this specialised discipline, which concerns the study of the human skeleton and how it is used within a forensic context.
Crime Scene Management
Prepare for day-to-day life as a Forensic Investigator. You'll learn the police command structure, the roles and responsibilities of key actors at crime scenes and techniques for investigative decision making, initial forensic response and scene assessment. You'll also further your knowledge as to how investigations are managed and how you can communicate effectively as a member of the investigating team. Specific techniques applying to victim, suspect and witness management; murder investigation and sexual offences will also be explored. This module is all about being well prepared to work as part of a professional forensic investigation team.

Current students say...


Amy Ridholls

“We learn and practice different aspects of the job including crime scene photography. We also learn about the science behind the processes such as forensic biology and how to write forensic lab reports. I have the opportunity to do a research placement with the Pathology Dept at Derriford Hospital which will give me great experience.”


Dan Edgecombe

“This course is challenging and I enjoy the extensive amount of knowledge being shared by my lecturers. I’m furthering my knowledge and personally the course has focused me more.”


Chloe Burrows

“This is a fascinating course which gives you insight into forensic practise and the law relating to forensics too. It has allowed me to discover my interests in forensics and has been an eye opener in terms of the career I want after this degree.”

This course is perfect if you're curious about

What is forensic science?

Once collected, how is evidence analysed in the laboratory?

How do you give expert evidence in court?

What new research methods would improve the effectiveness of the forensic science sector?

What is evidence and how is it collected?

What skills do you need to gain employment in the forensics field?

What might you become?

You could follow a career pathway within areas such as forensic analytical laboratories or the criminal justice system. Alternatively, you could apply to graduate schemes with the police or civil service.

Often to work within forensic science it is necessary to undertake further study to specialise in a specific forensic discipline.

The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences

This degree has been awarded Conditional Educational Accreditation (CEA) by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences in December 2021. This demonstrates that the degree has been assessed but has not yet run for a full three years. CEA ensures quality from the start of the degree. It acknowledges both the quality and quantity of the forensic science content. This degree will be reviewed again within the next 24 months to pursue Educational Accreditation.


How you’ll be taught and assessed?

How will you be taught?

Includes lectures, seminars, tutorials, mock court experiences and practical laboratory experience in the forensic laboratories and the crime scene house. 

 

How will you be assessed?

You will be assessed via a variety of methods including witness statements, practical assessments, mock court room exercises, examinations, oral presentations, essays, portfolios and case reports.

Course leader

Dr Sarah Gardner

Sarah previously worked for the Home Office, doing research into fingerprint enhancement techniques, and as a Forensic Scientist with the UK Forensic Science Service, running cases in the violent and sexually motivated crime teams. She taught Forensic Science at Universities in London and Australia before joining the team at Marjon. Sarah's teaching interests include forensic biology, blood pattern analysis, DNA profiling, fingerprints, forensic chemistry, research methods, mass disaster victim identification and forensic trace analysis.

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Fees and funding

Fees UK students: £9,250 per annum


Fees for International students: £12,500 per annum

Funding available for this course

 

Additional costs:

Students are required to self-fund the following:

  • A lab coat at £10-20
  • A scientific calculator at approx £15

On and off-site forensic experiences are provided at no extra cost.


Lecturers

Lecturers

Alexandra Gartshore

Laboratory Assistant

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Anne Kirkman

Laboratory Supervisor

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David Moore

Associate Lecturer

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Dr Emily Norton

Lecturer in Forensic Science

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Emily is a certified Forensic Anthropologist (FA-III) with a range of forensic casework experience. Her teaching focuses on equipping students with the practical skills they need to work in the forensics sector. Her research interests include the use of orbital remote sensing platforms to locate human mass graves.

Linda Wilday

Laboratory Manager

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Linda is a biochemist with over thirty years’ experience of in research and deployments of new technologies.


More information

See inside our lectures with these videos:

 

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