MSc Forensic Science

Key facts

  • Start date: September
  • Accreditation: Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
  • Application deadline: applications accepted on a rolling basis
  • Study mode and duration: 12 months full-time

Study with us

  • longest running MSc Forensic Science course in the UK
  • accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
  • participate in a major practical crime scene and courtroom exercise
  • input by forensic practioners and professional scientists
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Why this course?

You’ll join a global network of Strathclyde forensic science graduates who are 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 benefit from the expertise of our enthusiastic teaching staff who also conduct forensic science research and casework. Studying in the Centre for Forensic Science offers a unique experience, combining ‘case-based’ learning with research-led teaching.

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

Course video

Hear from the course coordinator and students about our MSc in Forensic Science.

What you'll study

The focal point of the course is our major crime scene exercise, in which you 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.

You'll cover core aspects of forensic science in Semester 1 including:

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

Following the general introduction 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 in:

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

 

Project

In Semester 3, you undertake a three-month project, culminating in the production of a dissertation.

You may have the opportunity to complete the project in an operational forensic science provider either in the UK or overseas (subject to visa requirements). Alternatively, you may complete your project within the Centre for Forensic Science, under the supervision of our team of academics.

Examples of institutions where Strathclyde students have previously undertaken 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

Assessment

Assessment consists of written coursework, continual assessment of practical work, oral presentations and formal written examinations. The project is assessed through the completion of a dissertation.

Practitioner Lecture Series

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

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

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

Athena Swan Award

The Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry has been awarded the Athena Swan Bronze Award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality in Chemistry.

Crime scene investigation

Student Jill Mackay explains what it's like to work on our popular crime scene investigation project.

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Course content

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.
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.
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.
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Entry requirements

Academic requirements/experience

Minimum second-class Honours degree, or international equivalent, in a relevant science subject such as:

  • chemistry
  • biology
  • biochemistry
  • pharmacy
  • zoology
  • botany

Prospective students with relevant industry experience are also welcome to apply.

English language requirements

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.

As a university, we now accept many more English language tests in addition to IELTS for overseas applicants, for example, TOEFL and PTE Cambridge. View the full list of accepted English language tests here.

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 B immunisation (this takes from four to six months to be effective).

Pre-Masters preparation course

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

Upon successful completion, you will be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 100 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

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Fees & funding

2020/21

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

Scotland/EU

£8,100

Rest of UK

£8,100

International

£20,900

Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Project associated costs

MSc Forensic Science students have additional costs associated with their three-month project. For example, they will be expected to pay the costs for travel to and accommodation at 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.

Laboratory fee

In addition to the tuition fee, students enrolled on the Postgraduate Taught Forensic Science course pay a laboratory fee of £1,750

Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

How can I fund my course?

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Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students

Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students 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.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to 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.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate 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. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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International students

We've a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

Our campus is based in the very heart of Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. National Geographic named Glasgow as one of its 'Best of the World' destinations, while Rough Guide readers have voted Glasgow the world’s friendliest city! And Time Out named Glasgow in the top ten best cities in the world - we couldn't agree more!

We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.

Find out what some of our students think about studying in Glasgow!

Find out all about life in Glasgow
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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.

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.

Maria's Strathlife

Hear from Maria Sahayaselvan about her experience of studying the MSc in Forensic Science at Strathclyde.

From the moment I stepped foot in Glasgow I felt everyone welcome me with open arms...

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Apply

Forensic Science

Qualification: MSc
Start Date: Sep 2020
Mode of Delivery: full-time

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Contact us

PGT Admissions Team

Telephone: +44 (0)141 548 3623

Email: science-masters@strath.ac.uk

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