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Forensic Science MSci (Hons)

  • Level(s) of Study: Undergraduate
  • UCAS Code(s): F413 (full-time); F414 (sandwich)
  • Start Date(s): September 2022
  • Duration: Four years full-time, five years with a placement
  • Study Mode(s): Full-time
  • Campus: Clifton Campus
  • Entry Requirements:
    More information

Introduction:

Fascinated by forensics? Dreaming of a career in a specialised field like crime scene investigation, DNA analysis, or toxicology? Looking to stand out with a Masters-level qualification that gives you that key competitive edge?

This flexible MSci shares two common years with our popular BSc (Hons) Forensic Science, before branching into a host of advanced modules. You’ll secure a postgraduate (as opposed to undergraduate) degree, and you can choose the study path that best-suits your professional ambitions.

From day one, you’ll be working with genuine experts  in world-class facilities. Comb our famous crime-scene house for clues; work on case studies built from the real-world experiences of our teaching team; review your evidence in our dedicated forensics, chemistry, bioarchaeology, and ballistics labs; and present your findings in NTU’s authentic on-site courtrooms. You’ll be supported by prestigious guest speakers, placement and study-abroad opportunities, and a close-knit community of staff and students.

Forensics is a global science with a huge range of professional applications — from food safety and biometric security to the worldwide battle against counterfeiting, smuggling, and dangerous new designer drugs. With a Masters-level qualification, an enhanced understanding of the full forensic process, and some superb professional connections, you won’t just be an option for employers — you’ll be their priority.

Why study this course?

  • You’ll complete your undergraduate and Masters-level forensic studies in the space of one degree course – emerging with a single, powerful qualification.
  • It’s accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences — the gold standard in degree-level forensic education.
  • We have some of the best facilities in the UK — so good, they’re used to train organisations like the HMRC, the British Transport Police, and rescue services across the East Midlands.
  • You’ll be learning from the experts. Our teaching team has the highest number of former and current forensic practitioners in the UK — and in 2022, four of the School of Science and Technology’s six nominees for ‘Outstanding Teaching Staff’ came from the Forensic Sciences team.
  • You’ll have the chance to complete a 12-month professional work placement with organisations like the fire brigade, the NHS, and even the Dutch police — an opportunity that’s created job offers for many of our students before they’ve even graduated.
  • Looking for an international perspective on forensic theory and practice? You can also take part in a year-long exchange programme with our partner university in Canada.

What’s the difference? BSc vs MSci

  • The BSc (Hons) is a three-year undergraduate course — or four years if you choose to complete a work placement. If your academic performance is strong enough over the first two years, we’ll automatically offer you a place on the MSci course.
  • The MSci (Hons) is a four-year course — or five, with placement — that leads to a single postgraduate qualification. The first two years are the same as the BSc course, with advanced, Masters-level study then spread across the third and fourth years.
  • NTU is 4th in the UK for Forensic Science in the Complete University Guide 2023

Course accreditation

  • Chartered Society of Forensic Science Logo

What you’ll study

Naturally, a Masters-level qualification requires more advanced study. There are two ways of accessing this course: one is to apply directly, and the other is to perform well enough on our BSc that you’re automatically offered entry to the MSci at the end of Year Two. Typically, we recommend this second option — see for yourself how you progress at undergraduate level, understand what really appeals to you about the field, and then make your own decision.

While the first two years of our MSci mirror the BSc, the third and final years offer a more specialised, focused look at specific areas of the field. This is a great option if you arrive at NTU with the goal of working in a particular area. As well as core modules like ‘Forensic Expert’, you’ll have the opportunity to pick from dedicated optional modules in biometrics, bioarchaeology, and analytical toxicology. You’ll complete an expanded research project in partnership with one of our academics, and — just like the BSc route — get the chance to complete a work placement in Year Three.

Working from crime scenes to courtrooms, the strength of our MSci is its versatility, and the opportunities you’ll have to focus on the professional / research areas that really interest you. You’ll be exploring the key areas that shape forensic theory and practice: policing and investigation, courtroom law and legal processes, and all the underpinning science. That scientific focus is what makes NTU’s approach so unique. Forensics is a disciplined, methodical, immersive field of study, involving minute details that can make — or break — a case. Learn the science, understand how to properly apply it, and you’ll have a big professional advantage over other graduates.

Introduction to Forensic Biology

Gain an introduction to the key areas that underpin the complex biological aspects of forensic science. You’ll write scientific reports and carry out oral presentations, both of which are important skills required of a forensic scientist.

Forensic Chemistry

Study theoretical and practical chemistry in relation to forensic science, including concepts of periodicity, bonding and structure, functional group chemistry, thermodynamics, and kinetics.

The Forensic Process

Develop your professional awareness of forensic science and the English legal system. Examine the role of the forensic scientist and law enforcement agencies, and even experience live trials. Also witness and investigate a live arson scene, under the guidance of renowned fire instigation experts.

Introduction to Forensic Analysis

Learn basic chemical principles including chromatography, applied spectroscopy, statistical tests, electroanalytical techniques, and appropriate specialist methods.

Technical Skills for Forensic Science

This module will develop your understanding of professional standards in forensic science, with particular emphasis on the development of your technical and digital skills, including use of an e-portfolio to demonstrate your competency in these areas.

Professional Skills for Forensic Science

Develop your skills in mathematical sciences. This module will help to train you, as a forensic scientist, in the essential calculated and logical thought processes needed to solve problems

Core modules

Biological Techniques in Forensic Science

This module will form a platform of knowledge, conceptual understanding and skills in the application of bioscience techniques and their relevance to forensic science.

Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Photography

Learn about crime scene investigation and its role within the forensic process, leading onto forensic image processing and the procedures and legislation attached to these areas.

Ethics and Law for Forensics

Gain a professional awareness of the law governing police powers, the substantive criminal law and the law of evidence, including an analysis of law and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Forensic Casework Examination

Develop an awareness of the application of laboratory examination methods in forensic science, enabling practical application of relevant techniques to casework problems.

Forensic Analysis

Building on Year One, you will focus on interfering sample matrices, quantitative and qualitative identification of multicomponent samples, and measurements under non-ideal conditions.

Choose from the following optional modules:

Introduction to Suspicious Death Investigations

You’ll consider the range of specialist practitioners needed to investigate an unexplained death in different circumstances and learn the techniques and methods used. Examine bio-deterioration (including decay and degradation of bodies under different environmental conditions) through scenario-led practical sessions.

Forensic Image Processing

Study the principles of imaging including theory of light, how digital sensors work, image noise and techniques for image enhancement.  The module is taught through a series of practical workshops where you’ll use our wide range of imaging equipment before processing your images using the software package Image.

If you are taking a year-long work placement (sandwich course) the modules below will be studied when you return to campus in year four.

Core modules

Molecular Techniques for Identification

You will develop an understanding of the role of DNA-based analysis, looking at the various techniques and issues relating to the successful recovery and analysis of DNA samples.

Drugs of Abuse

This unique module focuses on drugs of abuse and illustrates the forensic applications of a range of analytical techniques. You’ll learn about the legislation covering substances and their classifications. It also includes international drug trafficking and case studies of clandestine laboratories.

Research Methodology

This module will prepare you to undertake the research project in the final year, developing your skills in critical thinking and designing experimentation.

Advanced Topics in Forensic Science

You’ll look at current aspects of research in forensic science and tackle current issues facing the forensic community.

Choose one of the following optional modules:

Advanced Crime Scene Investigation

Managing a crime scene is explored in detail in this module and you’ll learn how to deal with major and serious crime scenes and consider contamination issues. Blood pattern analysis is also studied and you’ll develop an understanding dynamics of blood interpretation and its use as evidence in investigations.

Forensic Microbiology

Develop your molecular identification methods including microbial DNA fingerprinting (PFGE, PCR-amplification techniques) and explore the use of international databases (EnterNet, PulseNet).

You’ll consider bioterrorism, accidental and deliberate contamination, medical negligence and food-borne disease through the use of real-life case studies.

Environmental Forensic Assessment

You’ll review case studies in forensic ecology and study the degradation of plant and animal remains as part of the decomposition food web. This will help you to determine the time and place of death or burial / drowning at a crime scene.

Choose one of the following optional modules:

Communicating Science and Technology

This module will be of interest to you if you are considering a career in teaching and / or want to develop your portfolio of transferable skills.

Ballistics and Firearms

Study the current legislation around firearms including hand guns, rifles, shotguns, sub machine guns, proof marks and ammunition.  You’ll explore physical concepts for ballistics to understand the nature of spent ammunition comprising Newton’s laws of motion and gravity.

Forensic Archaeology and Anthropology

Taking bone geochemistry and ancient skeletal materials as a reference you’ll develop skills in assessing causes and places of death using techniques such as monitoring skeletal injury/changes including arthritis.

If you are taking a year-long work placement (sandwich course) the modules below will be studied when you return to campus in year five.

Core modules

Project 60

This is the capstone module where you’ll work with a member of academic staff and undertake in-depth research in an aspect of forensic science.

Forensic Expert

This module will allow you to develop a skills portfolio that’s expected of the expert witness and take a case file through to being presented at court.

Choose two from the following optional modules:

Biometrics and Forensic Databases

Gain an overview of identification, authentication and verification techniques, with an introduction to the theory of database systems and the legal and moral implications of database use.

Analytical Toxicology

Develop working knowledge of various drug separation and detection techniques and the application of analytical approaches to detect and quantify drugs and metabolites in biological fluids and tissues. You’ll review the use and abuse of substances used as both medicines and poisons.

Bioarcheology

You will look at the recovery of bodies in missing persons and unexplained death scenarios, including search, recording, recovery, and the evidential significance of plants, pollen and soils.

Video Gallery

Watch our facility tour video to get an insight into the equipment you'll use and what you'll study on the course.
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How you’re taught

Our supportive, multi-award-winning teaching team is a big part of what makes this course so special. Made up of current and former practitioners, they’ve seen it all, and they bring over 200 combined years of professional experience to the table. Variously, they’ve worked (and continue to work) as crime scene investigators, bioarchaeologists, fingerprint and footwear experts, laboratory managers, toxicologists, chemists, DNA reporting scientists, police officers, and detectives with the Serious and Organised Crime Squad.

Throughout the course, you’ll be assessed in a variety of ways that include:

  • lectures
  • workshops
  • seminars
  • visits
  • group projects
  • case studies
  • verbal presentations
  • laboratory assessments and reports.

Practical and workshop classes enable you to gain competence in the application of the fundamental principles of forensic science and are focused around problem solving and interpretation. You’ll take part in crime scene investigation simulation exercises based on real work problems which reflect the challenges facing Crime Scene Investigators.

The MSci has a stronger focus on ‘self-guided’ learning. It’s designed to grow the autonomy and research confidence you’ll need for your final-year project — so you’ll be completing plenty of independent reading in addition to what you’re being taught.

Contact hours

Year 1 - lectures/seminars/workshops (28%) and independent study (72%)

Year 2 - lectures/seminars/workshops (27%) and independent study (74%)

Year 3 - lectures/seminars/workshops (22%) and independent study (78%)

Year 4 - lectures/seminars/workshops (17%) and independent study (83%)

A placement year may be taken between year 2 and year 3 of study

Learn from the best

Through their shared expertise, their incredible industry connections (including the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, the Royal Society of Chemistry, regional police forces, the HMRC, and the Institute of Forensic Research in Krakow), and guest-speaker events like that Chemistry and Forensic Seminar Series, you’ll be learning from the best of the best.

Learn a new language

Alongside your study you also have the opportunity to learn a new language. The University Language Programme (ULP) is available to all students and gives you the option of learning a totally new language or improving the skills you already have. Find out more about the ULP.

Staff Profiles

Muriel Funck

Senior Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

Muriel Funck

Andrew O’Hagan

Senior Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

Andrew O’Hagan

Quentin Hanley

Associate Professor

School of Science & Technology

Quentin Hanley is a Reader in Analytical Chemistry and Head of Analytical Chemistry at Nottingham Trent University.

David P A Kilgour

Senior Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

David P A Kilgour

L. Nitin Seetohul

Senior Lecturer

School of Science & Technology

L. Nitin Seetohul

How you’re assessed

Year 1 - coursework (70%), written (24%) and practical (6%)

Year 2 - coursework (43%), written (36%) and practical (21%)

Year 3 - coursework (52%), written (30%) and practical (18%)

Year 4 - coursework (60%), written (22%) and practical (18%)

Careers and employability

Your career development

Employers in the fields of chemistry, biology and physics as well as forensic science highly value graduates with a strong background in:

  • scientific investigation
  • the reconstruction of events
  • the presentation of findings.

These skills are invaluable for careers in forensic science, law enforcement (for example, the police, Customs and Excise, immigration and fraud investigation) and academic research.

Our recent MSci (Hons) Forensic Science graduates have secured roles at companies including:

  • Derbyshire Constabulary
  • De Montfort University
  • Eurofins Forensic Services
  • Perfectos Inks
  • Reckett Benckiser
  • Nottinghamshire Police
  • Vision Security Group
  • Boots
  • Premier Analytical Services
  • Surrey Police

They have gone into a wide variety of job roles including:

  • Forensic toxicologist
  • Forensic services assistant
  • Digital evidence recovery technician
  • Forensic services lab officer
  • Police officer
  • Development chemist
  • Lab technician in forensic toxicology
  • Analytical assistant
  • Pharmacy development analyst

Many graduates also choose to undertake further study on a MPhil or PhD research degree.

Excellent placement opportunities

Placements

NTU is one of the most employment-focused universities. Increasingly, employers want to recruit graduates who have real-world work experience. That’s why all of our courses, across every subject area, offer you a work experience opportunity. Our experts help build and support your future with a range of career programmes and events.

On this course, after your second year, you will have the opportunity to take a year's work placement (sandwich placement). This will give you the chance to gain vital experience and put your knowledge into practice. You're also twice as likely to secure a graduate job within six months if you take a work placement.

Our recent Forensic Science students have taken placements across a wide range of companies including Nottinghamshire and Cumbria Police Forces and the NHS. They secured varied roles such as Collision Investigation Support Volunteer, Digital Forensics Intern and Student Cyber Security Analyst.

You'll be supported and assessed throughout your placement year and will write a reflective report and diary at the end of your placement. When you successfully complete your placement, you will be eligible to receive an additional award of a Diploma in Professional Practice.

NTU Enterprise

You'll also have the opportunity to turn your ideas into a viable business with help from NTU Enterprise, NTU's purpose-built Centre for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, a support centre to help students create, develop and grow their own businesses.

Campus and facilities

You will have access to a range of first-class facilities and will develop the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in the graduate employment market.

Crime Scene Training Facility

This is a typical residential property based on-campus and used exclusively as a crime scene investigation training facility. The rooms are set up to replicate a range of realistic crime scene scenarios, ranging from burglaries and assaults to searches for illegal substances. You will take on the role of crime scene examiner and develop your investigation, collection and analysis techniques.

Ballistics Laboratory

You will have access to a large reference collection of spent and inert shotgun, rifle, pistol and revolver ammunition to train in ammunition recognition.

The focal point of the Ballistics Laboratory is the comparison microscope, which you will use to identify the characteristics of spent cartridge cases and bullets recovered from crime scenes.

You will have access to ammunition and firearms identification databases, which are the same as those used by UK ballistics experts and firearms examiners.

Document Examination Laboratory

You will learn how to use the video spectral comparator (VSC) to determine the authenticity of security documents such as:

  • passports
  • identity cards
  • currency.

You will also learn how to recover indented writing evidence from documents using the electrostatic detection apparatus (ESDA). A wide of photographic stands and specialist light sources are available for use in photographing a range of evidence types that have been recovered from crime scenes. All Forensic Science students are trained in digital photography and image processing.

Entry requirements

128 UCAS Tariff points

What are we looking for?

  • A-levels - ABB including chemistry and another science or numerate subject*; or
  • BTEC Extended Diploma – DDM including relevant chemistry and another science or numerate subject modules; or
  • 128 UCAS points from three A-levels or equivalent, including chemistry and another science or numerate subject both at A-level grade B  or equivalent; and
  • GCSEs – English, Maths and Science grade C / 4

* we will accept biology / human biology, physics, maths / further maths, core maths, use of maths, environmental science, physical education and sport science.

Other qualifications and experience

We consider equivalent qualifications and combinations, please see UCAS course search for details and use our calculator to help you work out how many UCAS points your qualifications relate to.

We may also consider credits achieved at other universities and your work/life experience through an assessment of prior learning. This may be for year one entry, or beyond the beginning of a course where applicable, for example, into year 2. Our Recognition of Prior Learning and Credit Transfer Policy outlines the process and options available for this route.

Contextual offers

As well as assessing your application and qualifications, we use contextual data and information to make offers for this course. Depending on your circumstances, we may make you an offer up to two grades below the standard entry criteria. Find out how we assess your application.

Getting in touch

If you need any more help or information, please email our Admissions and Enquiries Team or call on +44 (0)115 848 4200.

What are we looking for?

  • A-levels - ABB including chemistry and another science or numerate subject*; or
  • BTEC Extended Diploma – DDM including relevant chemistry and another science or numerate subject modules; or
  • 128 UCAS points from three A-levels or equivalent, including chemistry and another science or numerate subject both at A-level grade B  or equivalent; and
  • GCSEs – English, Maths and Science grade C / 4

* we will accept biology / human biology, physics, maths / further maths, core maths, use of maths, environmental science, physical education and sport science.

International qualifications

We accept qualifications from all over the world – check yours here:

Undergraduate preparation courses (Foundation)

If you don’t yet meet our entry requirements, we offer Foundation courses through our partner Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC), based on our City Campus:

English language entry requirements

You can meet our language requirements by successfully completing our pre-sessional English course for an agreed length of time, or by submitting the required grade in one of our accepted English language tests, such as IELTS:

Advanced standing (starting your undergraduate degree in year 2 or 3)

You may be able to start your undergraduate course in year 2 or 3 based on what you have studied before.  This decision would be made in accordance with our Recognition of Prior Learning and Credit Transfer Policy.

Would you like some advice on your study plans?

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

Fees and funding

Preparing for the financial side of student life is important, but there’s no need to feel anxious and confused about it. We hope that our fees and funding pages will answer all your questions.

Getting in touch

For more advice and guidance, you can contact our Student Financial Support Service on telephone +44 (0)115 848 2494.

What do the course fees cover?

Your course fees cover the cost of studies, and include loads of great benefits, such as the use of our library, support from our expert Employability team, and free use of the IT equipment across our campuses.

Library books

Most study modules will recommend one or more core text books, which most students choose to purchase. Book costs vary and further information is available in the University’s bookshop. Our libraries provide a good supply of essential text books, journals and materials (many of which you can access online) – meaning you may not need to purchase as many books as you might think! There may also be a supply of second-hand books available for purchase from previous year students.

Field trips

All essential field trip costs will be included in your course fees. There may be the opportunity to take part in optional field trips, which do incur additional costs.

Placements

If you're undertaking a placement year, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst on placement. Many of our placement students do earn a salary whilst on placement which can help to cover these living costs.

Print and copy costs

The University allocates an annual printing and copying allowance of £20 depending on the course you are studying. For more details about costs for additional print and copying required over and above the annual allowance please see the Printing, photocopying and scanning information on the Library website.

Students will also be required to pay additional costs for printing, poster preparation and final dissertation copies in their final year - estimated costs approximately £20 - £30.

A deposit is required for laboratory lockers (approximately £5)

Tuition fees 

Tuition fees are payable for each year that you are at the University. The level of tuition fees for the second and subsequent years of your undergraduate course may increase in line with inflation and as specified by the UK government. See our fees for 2022 entry.

Scholarships

We offer scholarships of up to 50% of your tuition fee. You can apply for your scholarship when you have an offer to study at NTU.

Living costs

Get advice on the cost of living as an international student in Nottingham and how to budget:

Paying fees

Find out about advanced payments, instalment plan options and how to make payments securely to the University:

Would you like some advice on your study plans?

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

What do the course fees cover?

Your course fees cover the cost of studies, and include loads of great benefits, such as the use of our library, support from our expert Employability team, and free use of the IT equipment across our campuses.

Library books

Most study modules will recommend one or more core text books, which most students choose to purchase. Book costs vary and further information is available in the University’s bookshop. Our libraries provide a good supply of essential text books, journals and materials (many of which you can access online) – meaning you may not need to purchase as many books as you might think! There may also be a supply of second-hand books available for purchase from previous year students.

Field trips

All essential field trip costs will be included in your course fees. There may be the opportunity to take part in optional field trips, which do incur additional costs.

Placements

If you're undertaking a placement year, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst on placement. Many of our placement students do earn a salary whilst on placement which can help to cover these living costs.

Print and copy costs

The University allocates an annual printing and copying allowance of £20 depending on the course you are studying. For more details about costs for additional print and copying required over and above the annual allowance please see the Printing, photocopying and scanning information on the Library website.

Students will also be required to pay additional costs for printing, poster preparation and final dissertation copies in their final year - estimated costs approximately £20 - £30.

A deposit is required for laboratory lockers (approximately £5)

How to apply

Ready to join us? Then apply as soon as you can. Just click the Apply button at the top of the page and follow the instructions for applying. Make sure you check the entry requirements above carefully before you do.

Writing your application and personal statement

Be honest, thorough and persuasive in your application. Remember, we can only make a decision based on what you tell us. So include all of your qualifications and grades, including resits or predicted grades.

Your personal statement is a really important part of your application. It’s your chance to convince us why we should offer you a place! You’ve got 4,000 characters to impress us. Make sure you use them to show how your skills and qualities are relevant to the course(s) you’re applying for. For more hints and tips, take a look at our page on how to write a good personal statement.

Keeping up-to-date

After you’ve applied, we’ll be sending you important emails throughout the application process so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

You can get more information and advice about applying to NTU on our Your Application page. Good luck with your application!

You can apply for this course through UCAS. If you are not applying to any other UK universities, you can apply directly to us on our NTU applicant portal.

Application advice

Apply early so that you have enough time to prepare – processing times for Student visas can vary, for example.  After you've applied, we'll be sending you important emails throughout the application process – so check your emails regularly, including your junk mail folder.

Writing your personal statement

Be honest, thorough, and persuasive – we can only make a decision about your application based on what you tell us:

Would you like some advice on your study plans?

Our international teams are highly experienced in answering queries from students all over the world. We also have members of staff based in Vietnam, China, India and Nigeria and work with a worldwide network of education counsellors.

The University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

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