MSc/PgDip Forensic Science

Why this course?

The MSc in Forensic Science is the UK’s longest established forensic science course. It'll allow you to qualify as a court-going forensic scientist, as well as preparing you for many alternative careers that require problem-solving and analysis.

You’ll graduate with relevant practical skills combined with analytical and investigative thinking.

You’ll study:

  • crime investigation and legal processes
  • criminalistics (eg shoe marks)
  • forensic chemistry (fires, explosives, glass, paint)
  • toxicology and drugs of abuse (cannabis, heroin cocaine etc)
  • forensic biology (body fluid analysis, blood pattern interpretation)
  • trace evidence and fibre examination
  • questioned documents
  • interpretation of evidence

You’ll become an effective analyst, develop strong written and verbal communication skills and develop knowledge of:

  • common separation techniques (thin layer, HPLC and gas chromatography)
  • modern spectroscopic methods (infra-red, ultraviolet-visible and fluorescence)
  • DNA profiling
  • crime scene investigation

Work placement

MSc students will undertake a three-month work placement in an operational forensic organisation. Previous Strathclyde students have been placed in the Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) and the Forensic Explosives Laboratory within the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), part of the Ministry of Defence.

The eight-month Postgraduate Diploma course is similar to the MSc, but does not include the placement.


Teaching takes place in the Centre for Forensic Science. It’s a modern purpose-built laboratory for practical forensic training, designed and equipped for ultra-clean working for the avoidance of cross contamination.

Teaching staff

Staff are experienced researchers in forensic science who are internationally recognised. The Centre for Forensic Science offers a unique learning experience, combining ‘case-based’ learning with research-led teaching.

Practitioner Lecture Series

This course offers the unique experience of gaining first-hand accounts of forensics in action through our practitioner and forensic related professionals lecture series.

Well renowned practitioners and professionals providing these lectures include:

  • Professor Peter Gill, Professor of Forensic Science, University of Oslo
  • PD Dr rer nat Marielle Vennemann, Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Münster
  • Dr Cerys Rees, Fellow, CB Analysis and Attribution, DSTL
  • Dr John Jenner, Principal Toxicologist, DSTL
  • Ciara Holland, Consultant Fire Investigator at BRE (Building Research Establishment Global Ltd)
  • Jim Govan a retired Firearm Examiner at the Scottish Policing Authority and Terminal Ballistic Consultant to Deer Commission Scotland (now Scottish Natural Heritage)
  • Alan Gall, Former Chief Superintendent and Divisional Commander, Strathclyde Police
  • Graham Cairns, Former Chief Superintendent and Divisional Commander, Strathclyde Police


The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences is a professional body with members in over 60 countries and is one of the oldest and largest forensic associations in the world.

Its aim is to set high educational standards through the review and accreditation of courses that contain forensic science.

MSc top-up programme

The Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry also offers an MSc top-up for those who graduated with the Forensic Science Society Diploma after 2010.

Course content

Semester 1

Professional & Career Skills
This course aims to provide students with professional and transferable skills that will enable them to be successful in a professional environment, either within or outwith forensic science.  Students will develop a personal development plan, and throughout the module will be encouraged to reflect on this, making adjustments where necessary to support them in meeting their objectives.
Essentials in Forensic Science

This class provides a broad knowledge of forensic science which you can build upon with more specialist knowledge. It introduces aspects of criminalistics such as trace evidence. You’ll learn about a range of evidence types and how they are analysed. You'll also explore the interpretation of evidence and its value in an investigative setting.

The class also introduces the legal system and forensic science in context. You’ll explore the interpretation of evidence, including bayesian approaches. You’ll also be introduced to quality assurance and encouraged to explore ethical considerations in forensic science.

Essentials of Forensic Science: Practical
This practical class will familiarise you techniques such as body fluid presumptive testing, document examination, footwear impressions, and various microscopy techniques. You will also have the opportunity to carry out these techniques.
Practical Crime Scene Exercise
You’ll work in a team as a crime scene examiner to process a simulated crime scene. Evidence will be processed and taken back to the laboratory where you’ll analyse it. This exercise is offered in partnership with Strathclyde University Law School and provides a more realistic, immersive experience. After being deposed by the legal teams, you’ll give evidence in a courtroom setting, presided over by a Sheriff from Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Semester 2

Forensic Biology 1

You'll learn about the investigation of assaults and complete an integrated case assessment. In addition, you'll also explore elements of scientific communication, presentation of scientific work and the effective communication of forensic results.

Forensic Biology 2

The specialist classes in Forensic Biology introduce students to the methods and practices used in forensic biology laboratories as well as the underlying theory. Students are encouraged to consider how these are integrated and used in the justice system and in criminal investigations.

This class considers the investigation of sexual offences, and the analysis and interpretation of DNA evidence, and biological trace and fibre evidence.

Forensic Chemistry 1

You’ll cover toxicology analysis and its interpretation and an integrated case assessment. In addition, you'll also explore elements of scientific communication, presentation of scientific work and the effective communication of forensic results.

Forensic Chemistry 2

The specialist classes in Forensic Chemistry introduce students to the methods and practices used in forensic chemistry laboratories as well as the underlying theory and students are encouraged to consider how these are integrated and used in the justice system and in criminal investigations.

This class considers drug evidence, analysis and interpretation of alcohol evidence, and the investigation of fires and explosives.

Practical Examination in Optional Classes
You’ll be introduced to the practical methods explored in the specialist biology and forensic chemistry classes. Using a case approach you’ll gain independence in laboratory work, develop skills in interpreting evidence and presenting results to aid the courts.

Semester 3

MSc students will complete a 3-month research project and dissertation to complete the course. Where possible, you'll undertake a placement (often in a practising forensic science laboratory) and present your findings in the form of a dissertation.


Assessment consists of written submission, practical work assessments and oral presentations. Practical work is continually assessed and counts towards the award of the degree.

The award of MSc is based upon 180 credits, while the award of PgDip is based upon 120 credits.

Entry requirements


  • first or upper second-class Honours degree
  • overseas equivalent in a relevant science subject such as chemistry, biology, biochemistry, pharmacy, zoology or botany
  • students with relevant industry experience are also welcome to apply
  • ideal for those who are marginally underqualified for entry to MSc course
  • IELTS 6.5 is required for all non-English speakers
  • entry is competitive and students are selected on the basis of academic ability and previous experience
  • final selection decisions are made by the academic selector and successful applicants will be notified
  • in the course of forensic examinations, there is a potential for exposure to body fluids from hepatitis sufferers and prospective students should consider hepatitis immunisation (this takes from four to six months to be effective)


  • ideal for those who are marginally underqualified for entry to MSc course

English language

  • IELTS 6.5 is required for all non-English speakers

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

To find out more about the courses and opportunities on offer visit or call today on +44 (0) 1273 339333 and discuss your education future. You can also complete the online application form. To ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers today.

Fees & funding

How much will my course cost?

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.


  • 2016/17 - £5,000

Rest of UK

  • 2016/17 - £6,000


  • 2016/17 - £17,500

How can I fund my course?

Please note that in addition to tuition fees, a laboratory fee will also be payable for the MSc/PgD in Forensic Science course´╗┐.

Scottish students

Students living in Scotland can find out more about funding from the Student Awards Agency Scotland.

English/EU students

Students ordinarily resident in England may be eligible to apply for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover their tuition fees and living costs. Students resident in the EU may also apply.

Please note

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.


Most forensic scientists in the UK are employed by the police, government bodies such as Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) and private companies who provide forensic science services to the police.

Forensic scientists can specialise in specific areas such as fire investigation.

Qualified doctors and dentists can also undergo further training to specialise in their field to become forensic medical examiners and forensic odontologists.

Most of the work is laboratory-based but experienced forensic scientists may have to attend crime scenes and give evidence in court.

How much will I earn?

Starting salaries are around £20,000 a year and can increase to £35,000 with experience. Senior forensic scientists can earn £45,000 or more*

Where are they now?

Many of our graduates are in work or further study.**

Job titles include:

  • Analytical Chemist
  • Biology Casework Examiner
  • Deputy Laboratory Director
  • DNA Analyst
  • Forensic Case Worker Examiner
  • Forensic DNA Analyst
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Laboratory Analyst
  • Medical Laboratory Assistant Histopathology
  • Research & Development Chemist

Employers include:

  • Gen-Probe Life Sciences
  • Key Forensic Ltd
  • Lancaster Labs
  • LGC Forensics
  • Life Technologies
  • National Institute Of Criminalistics And Criminology
  • NHS
  • Seychelles Forensic Science Lab
  • University of Strathclyde

*information is intended only as a guide.

**Based on the results of the national Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey (2010/11 and 2011/12).

Contact us


Forensic Science

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2016, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

Forensic Science

Qualification: PG Diploma, Start date: Sep 2016, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

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