Application deadline: applications accepted on a rolling basis
Accreditation: Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
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.
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
investigation of assaults and sexual offences
If you choose to specialise in forensic chemistry, you’ll develop expertise 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.
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)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
a minimum of a lower 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
IELTS 6.5 is required for all non-English speakers for entry to the MSc programme, with a minimum of IELTS 5.5 for all components including speaking, listening, reading and writing
In the course of forensic examinations, there is a potential for exposure to body fluids from hepatitis sufferers and prospective students should consider hepatitis B 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.
All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.
Rest of UK
In addition to the tuition fee, students enrolled on the Postgraduate Taught Forensic Science course pay a laboratory fee of £1,500.
How can I fund my course?
A number of scholarships are available for outstanding UK, EU and international applicants. For details, please visit our scholarship search.
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.
Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students
Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students starting in 2017 may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.
Students ordinarily resident in England can apply for Postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.
Postgraduate students starting in 2017 who are ordinarily resident in Wales can apply for support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. We are waiting on further information being released about this support and how to apply.
Postgraduate students starting in 2017 who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland can apply for support from Student Finance NI. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. We are waiting on further information being released about this support and how to apply.
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:
Biology Casework Examiner
Deputy Laboratory Director
Forensic Case Worker Examiner
Forensic DNA Analyst
Medical Laboratory Assistant Histopathology
Research & Development Chemist
Gen-Probe Life Sciences
Key Forensic Services Ltd
National Institute Of Criminalistics And Criminology
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).