MSc Forensic Science

Key facts

  • Start date: September
  • Accreditation: Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
  • Study mode and duration: 12 months full-time
  • Places: 70

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 practitioners and professional scientists
  • choose to specialise in forensic biology or forensic chemistry in second semester

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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 skills, 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.


Course video

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

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner

What you'll study

The focal point of the course is our major crime scene exercise, in which you investigate simulated outdoor crime scenes, collect and analyse the evidence from those scenes, and then 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:

  • preservation and recovery of evidence at a crime scene
  • assessment and analysis of a wide range of evidence types
  • legal systems, quality assurance, and ethical considerations of forensic science
  • the interpretation, statistical evaluation, and reporting of evidence

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:

  • investigation of assaults
  • biological trace evidence
  • DNA profiling and DNA mixture analysis
  • investigation of sexual offences

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

  • analysis of illicit substances
  • toxicology and alcohol analysis
  • investigation of fires and explosives
  • analytical chemistry for forensic scientists


In Semester 3, you undertake a three-month project.

You may have the opportunity to complete the project in an operational forensic science laboratory or another University laboratory, either in the UK or overseas (subject to visa/nationality/residency 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, UK
  • Eurofins Forensic Services, UK
  • Cellmark Forensic Services, UK
  • Centre of Forensic Sciences, Toronto, Canada
  • Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Sciences, UK
  • Office of the State Pathologist, Ireland
  • University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Arizona State University, USA


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 include a forensic microscopy suite, DNA profiling laboratory, analytical chemistry laboratory, blood pattern analysis room, and a suite for setting up mock crime scenes.

Course awards

Prizes are awarded for the best performing forensic biologist and forensic chemist, and for the best project.

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:

  • Peter Maskell, Senior Forensic Toxicologist, University of Glasgow
  • Peter Cain, Drugs Scientific Advisor, Eurofins Forensic Services
  • Ciara Holland, Partner, DCCH Experts LLP
  • Jim Govan, Retired Firearm Examiner, Scottish Police Authority Forensic Services and Terminal Ballistic Consultant to Deer Commission Scotland (now Scottish Natural Heritage)
  • Alan Gall, Former Chief Superintendent and Divisional Commander, Strathclyde Police (now Police Scotland)
  • Graham Cairns, Former Chief Superintendent and Divisional Commander, Strathclyde Police (now Police Scotland)
  • Dr John Clark, Retired Forensic Pathologist, University of Glasgow
  • Liana Hill, Forensic Nurse Examiner Programme Director, Crisis Services of North Alabama
  • Nicola Oldroyd-Clark/Sarah Naif, Verogen Inc
  • Dr Jonathan Parrot, Forensic Entomologist, Arizona State University
  • Professor Angela Gallop, CBE, Visiting Professor, University of Strathclyde
  • Dr Debra Carr, Defence and Security Accelerator, Ministry of Defence


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.

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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.


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.
Amina sitting outside, smiling at the camera
This course teaches you all the theory and lab skills required to work in the field of forensics. We get such a wide range of training (everything from detecting forgeries in notes to drug detection) that it feels like we are being prepared to step straight into the workforce.
Amina Sternkopf
MSc Forensic Science student

Learning & teaching

The programme is taught using a wide range of delivery methods, including online and face-to-face lectures, workshops, and tutorials, case studies, guest lectures, practical laboratory classes, simulated crime scene exercises, casework exercises, courtroom exercises, and laboratory-based research.


A wide range of assessment methods are utilised, including written coursework, laboratory reports, quizzes, data analysis exercises, scientific writing exercises, court reports, crime scene reports, case files, oral presentations and formal written examinations.

Our students

Akinpelu Oyewumi

Akinpelu Oyewumi

I particularly love the teacher-student relationship as the instructors are always eager to listen and guide.
Amy Sheridan, student

Amy Sheridan

The main skill I have learned is critical evaluation of scientific methods which is really important to understand in Forensic Science. Also, I’ve learned the roles of the forensic scientist in the lab and in court which was then applied to the crime scene to court exercise. I also learned about the importance of contemporaneous notes and how to produce an appropriate case file.
James Xenakis, MSc Forensic Science student

James Xenakis

The university is excellent, offering a wide range of facilities for students while being conveniently located in the city centre. This university should be at the top of anyone’s list.

Sara Akhdar

From the first day I arrived, the staff were helpful, always smiling, and made sure we are all comfortable. The University is also beautiful – it was nice to walk and look around campus feeling comfortable.
John MacLeod

John MacLeod

Whilst on the course I have gained experience of new techniques such as ElectroStatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA), Glass Refractive Index Measurement (GRIM), and have made 2D and 3D casts of footwear. I have also developed better communication skills from many presentations, both group and individual, on different tasks throughout the course.
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Entry requirements

Academic requirements/experience

Minimum second-class (2:2) Honours degree, or international equivalent, in a relevant science subject such as:

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

Prospective students with relevant industry/practitioner 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's 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-UK/Ireland) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde.

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

Please note: Previous Maths & English qualifications and your undergraduate degree must meet GTCS minimum entry requirements as well as the pre-Masters course and an interview will be conducted before an offer can be made.

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Fees & funding

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

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year (or studying standalone modules) should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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England, Wales & Northern Ireland




Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Additional costs

Course materials

You will have to pay extra for your lab coat and safety goggles.


You may have costs associated with the three-month research project including: 

  • travel
  • relocation
  • accommodation

These costs will vary depending on whether you remain in Glasgow during this time or choose to complete your project elsewhere.  

Crime scene exercise

Towards the end of the first semester there's a crime scene exercise which is held outdoors. We suggest you bring warm clothing, waterproof outerwear and appropriate footwear for wet and muddy conditions.

International students 

If you are an international student, you may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

Other costs                                     

  • There is a returnable deposit for the locker key.
  • We also strongly recommend that you get immunised against Hepatitis B.

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 postgraduate students

Scottish 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.

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 140 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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Most forensic scientists in Scotland are employed by the Scottish Police Authority Forensic Services.

In the rest of the UK, forensic scientists are employed by individual police forces, private forensic science providers such as Eurofins Forensic Services, Cellmark Forensic Services, Key Forensics, 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 generally specialise in specific areas such as biology, chemistry, crime scene examination, DNA analysis, drug analysis, fire investigation.

Most of the work is laboratory-based but crime scene examiners/managers and experienced forensic scientists will also 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 Examiner
  • Forensic DNA Analyst
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Forensic biologist
  • Forensic chemist
  • Forensic toxicologist
  • Forensic pathology technician
  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Crime Scene Manager
  • Crime scene examiner
  • Laboratory Analyst
  • Medical Laboratory Assistant Histopathology
  • Research & Development Chemist
  • Research technician/assistant
  • Production/exhibit officer
  • Drugs analyst
  • Molecular biologist

Employers include:

  • Gen-Probe Life Sciences
  • Key Forensic Services Ltd
  • Lancaster Labs
  • Centre of Forensic Sciences, Toronto, Canada
  • Eurofins Forensic Services
  • Cellmark Forensic Services
  • Scottish Police Authority Forensic Services
  • Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada
  • Merck Bioreliance
  • Life Technologies
  • National Institute of Criminalistics And Criminology
  • NHS
  • Seychelles Forensic Science Lab
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Cape Town, South Africa

*information is intended only as a guide.

**Based on the results of the National Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey.

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

Our campus is based right in the very heart of Glasgow. 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.

Life in Glasgow

Life at Strathclyde

Our students Maria and Tina tell us about their 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...

I think the resources here are incredible. You will learn so many things...

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70 places are available on the MSc Forensic Science each year.

There's a high demand for this course and we operate a staged admissions process with three selection deadlines throughout the year. We recommend applying early in the application cycle.

Please ensure you submit all supporting documentation before the relevant application deadline to avoid a delay in processing your application.

Application & decision deadlines for September 2024 entry

Stage 1: Applications received by 18 January; decision by 8 February.

Stage 2: Applications received by 28 March; decision by 18 April.

Stage 3: Applications received by 23 May; decision by 13 June.

If you do not receive an offer of admission by the relevant decision deadline, your application may be rolled forward to be considered again in the next stage. If this is the case, we'll let you know as soon as possible after the decision date.

Applicants who receive an offer of admission

To reserve a place on the MSc Forensic Science, applicants who have been made an offer of admission will be required to:

  • accept their offer within 21 days
  • pay a deposit or provide evidence of a valid scholarship/ sponsorship, within 21 days of accepting their offer. The deposit is £5,000 for the majority of students paying international tuition fees and £500 for all other students

Start date: Sep 2024

Forensic Science

Start date: Sep 2024

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Contact us

PGT Admissions Team

Telephone: +44 (0)141 553 6023


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