Forensic Science (MSc)John MacLeod

John MacLeod

About me

My name is John MacLeod, and I did my undergraduate degree in Forensic Investigation at Glasgow Caledonian University where I obtained a 1st Class Honours degree and was awarded the Best Overall Student award in 3rd Year. I wanted to further my skills and knowledge in this field and gain more experience of lab working conditions before embarking on further study and working opportunities. I then applied for the MSc Forensic Science course at the University of Strathclyde where I was awarded with a scholarship by the Faculty of Science. I am currently one of the class reps for my course.

My main reason for taking on a postgraduate degree was to gain more experience of lab work and new techniques to help better prepare me for future opportunities. I chose Strathclyde because it's ranked no.1 for Forensic Science in the UK by the Complete University Guide Subject League Tables 2021 and 2022, and had a Masters programme with the option to specialise in either biology or chemistry. I had more experience of the chemistry side so chose to specialise in that as it interests me more.

The highlight of the course for me was the crime scene exercise and mock court trial. I really enjoyed them as both were still able to proceed despite the covid restrictions. The crime scene exercise took place on a windy and rainy day, but a lot of fun was still had. We worked as a team and recovered all the evidence that had been left at the scene and we delegated items to each member to analyse back at the labs.

The court trials were a good experience. They were held virtually but this didn’t detract from the experience as it allowed us to give our testimonies as an ‘expert witness’ to two different trials, whereas in previous years this was only done once. The trials were presided by an actual judge from the sheriff court and the Law students asked questions relating to the evidence analysed. I also enjoyed receiving at the start of term a ‘home kit’ which included experiments that could be done at home as well as a USB Microscope which I enjoy using.

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. My project involves analysing trace organic explosives on different surfaces so have developed skills with Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) and High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).

After I graduate, I hope to find a PhD in a chemistry related field that incorporates techniques which I have learned from this course.

I have enjoyed my time here at Strathclyde and made new friends despite covid restrictions and the course has been a lot of fun as well as challenging.

This past year has been difficult for many students with plans for the future changing and uncertainty over when things can return a point of familiarity which is why I wish to finish with a positive quote:

You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.

- A.A Milne.