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MSc/PgDip Forensic Science

Why this course?

The MSc in Forensic Science is the UK’s longest established forensic science degree course, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016/2017.

You’ll join a global network of Strathclyde forensic science graduates in highly respected positions all over the world.

In addition to preparing you for life as a forensic scientist, you’ll also graduate with a wide range of practical skills, problem solving and investigative thinking relevant to a wide range of careers.

You'll study

  • crime scene investigation
  • legal procedures and the law
  • evidence interpretation and statistical evaluation
  • analysis of range of evidence types including footwear marks, trace evidence, and questioned documents

Following a general introduction to forensic science in semester 1, you can choose to specialise in either forensic biology or forensic chemistry. As a forensic biologist you’ll study a range of topics including:

  • body fluid analysis
  • blood pattern interpretation
  • DNA profiling
  • investigation of assaults and sexual offences

If you choose to specialise in forensic chemistry, you’ll develop expertise instead in:

  • analysis of fires and explosives
  • drugs of abuse
  • alcohol and toxicology

The focal point of the course is our major crime scene exercise, in which you are expected to investigate your own mock outdoor crime scene, collect and analyse the evidence, and present this in Glasgow Sheriff Court in conjunction with students training in Strathclyde Law School.

Project

In semester 3, MSc students undertake a three-month project, culminating in the production of a dissertation.

Students may be given the opportunity to complete their project in an operational forensic science provider either in the UK or overseas (subject to visa requirements). Alternatively, students may complete their project within the Centre for Forensic Science itself, under the supervision of our team of academics.

Examples of institutions that previous Strathclyde students have been placed in to undertake their project include: 

  • Scottish Police Authority, Forensic Services
  • Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST)
  • Forensic Explosives Laboratory, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL)
  • LGC Forensics
  • Cellmark Forensic Services
  • Institute of Environmental Science and Research, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Institute of Forensic Research, Krakow, Poland
  • Centre of Forensic Sciences, Toronto, Canada

The MSc in Forensic Science runs for 12 months, commencing in September. The nine-month Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) course contains all of the taught elements of the MSc, but does not include the project.

Facilities

Teaching takes place in the Centre for Forensic Science. It’s a modern purpose-built laboratory for practical forensic training, equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation for analysis of a wide range of evidence types. This includes a microscopy suite, DNA profiling laboratory, analytical chemistry laboratory, blood pattern analysis room, and a suite for setting up mock crime scenes.

Teaching staff

Students on these programmes benefit from the expertise of our enthusiastic teaching staff who also conduct forensic science research and casework. The Centre for Forensic Science offers a unique experience, combining ‘case-based’ learning with research-led teaching.

Practitioner Lecture Series

This course offers the fantastic experience of gaining first-hand accounts of forensic sciences 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, Chemical Biology Analysis and Attribution, Defence Science Technology Laboratory, Ministry of Defence
  • Dr John Jenner, Principal Toxicologist, Defence Science Technology Laboratory, Ministry of Defence
  • Ciara Holland, Consultant Fire Investigator at Building Research Establishment Global Ltd
  • Jim Govan a Retired Firearm Examiner at the Scottish Police 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
  • Dr John Clark, Retired Forensic Pathologist, University of Glasgow

Accreditation

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 science associations in the world.

Our MSc in Forensic Science is accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, demonstrating our commitment to meeting their high educational standards for forensic science tuition.

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

Dissertation
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

Assessment consists of written coursework, practical work assessments, oral presentations and formal written examinations. Practical work is continually assessed and counts towards the award of the degree. The project is assessed through the completion of a dissertation.

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

Entry requirements

MSc

  • first or upper second-class Honours degree or overseas equivalent in a relevant science subject such as chemistry, biology, biochemistry, pharmacy, zoology or botany
  • prospective students with relevant industry experience are also welcome to apply
  • applications are considered on a rolling basis, and prospective students are encouraged to apply all year round
  • 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

PgDip/PgCert

  • completion of a PgDip (120 credits) encompasses taught elements of the course, but not the project
  • ideal for those who are marginally underqualified for entry to the MSc course

English language

IELTS 6.5 is required for all non-English speakers for entry to the MSc/PgDip programmes, with a minimum of IELTS 5.5 for all components including speaking, listening, reading and writing

Other information

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).

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 isc.strath.ac.uk 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.

Scotland/EU

  • 2016/17 - £5,000

Rest of UK

  • 2016/17 - £6,000

International

  • 2016/17 - £17,500

How can I fund my course?

Please note that in addition to tuition fees, a laboratory fee of £1,500 will also be payable for the MSc/PgD in Forensic Science course´╗┐. Students will be sent a separate invoice for this, early in the first semester.

Scottish students

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

English 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.

Project associated costs

MSc Forensic Science students have additional costs associated with their three-month project. Students are expected to meet all costs including travel and accommodation. This is determined by the project location.

All students are responsible for printing and binding costs associated with their dissertation, and students working on external/overseas projects will be expected to pay the cost of posting this to the university.

Please note

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

Careers

Most forensic scientists in Scotland are employed by the Scottish Police Authority.

In the rest of the UK, forensic scientists are employed by individual police forces, private forensic science providers such as LGC Forensics and Cellmark Forensic Services, or government bodies such as the Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) and the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

Outside of the UK, forensic scientists may be employed by police forces, government bodies or private companies.

Forensic scientists can specialise in specific areas such as crime scene examination, DNA analysis, drug analysis, and fire investigation.

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
  • HKSTC
  • Key Forensic Services 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

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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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