Forensic Science BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with placement)


January 2017, September 2016

Intermediate awards: CertHE, DipHE

code: F411, F41S

The entry requirements below are for students starting in September 2016.


Criminal prosecutions depend on evidence which has been safely and intelligently collected, stored and analysed by forensic scientists. Join our Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences course and take part in hands-on investigations in our simulated crime scene. When you graduate, you’ll have the skills to follow a career in forensic science. This course has been validated to include an optional Sandwich Placement year in industry.

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For more information about Sandwich Placement opportunities, please contact the Placements Team.

Full description


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When you graduate from our course you’ll have a big role to play in ensuring justice for victims as well as a safer society for us all.

Our course focuses on developing your practical skills, which will make you attractive to potential employers. We’ll encourage you to find work placements with local law enforcement organisations during your summer breaks.

By choosing certain modules you can become an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (AMRSC).

While our course will prepare you for a career in forensic science, you’ll also develop the skills to follow other careers in areas like teaching, research, insurance and the law.

Graduation doesn’t need to be the end of your time with us. If you’d like to continue your studies we offer a wide range of full-time and part-time postgraduate courses including MSc Forensic Science.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Introduction to Forensic Methodologies
    You'll cover key aspects ranging from the management of crime scenes and the appropriate recovery of items found within them, to the interpretation of results obtained from laboratory-based analyses. A range of the most common types of evidence will be introduced, along with the techniques used to examine them. Particular emphasis is placed on the various microscopy methods available, including polarised light and fluorescence microscopy, and the physical principles behind them.
  • Introduction to Biology and Forensic Chemistry
    You'll develop understanding of basic chemical and biological principles with a particular emphasis on the forensic sciences and will underpin the understanding of the chemistry and biology encountered in later study of forensic science. The module will include a practical element where students gain competence and confidence in performing basic laboratory techniques.
  • Physical and Quantitative Chemistry for Forensic Scientists
    This module introduces the fundamental concepts of physical chemistry and a basic introduction to chemical analysis. Examples will be drawn from throughout the forensic sciences. The main areas covered include: chemical equilibria, thermodynamic, thermochemistry and kinetics. These topics are of great importance in acquiring an understanding of why chemical changes occur and gives a good understanding of concepts needed to progress onto a number of modules on our forensic science course. The module will introduce basic chemical analysis and emphasis is placed on the acquisition of good laboratory practice and basic calculations applicable to quantitative analytical techniques.
  • United Kingdom Legal Systems and Law for Forensic Scientists
    Gain knowledge of the different legal systems and requirements within the United Kingdom. Examine the development of law in the English, Scottish and Northern Ireland legal systems and the Jury system. You’ll closely explore the powers relevant to the Scene of Crime Officer and Forensic Scientist, as well as the laws of evidence as they relate to the S.O.C.O./Forensic Scientist. Finally, you’ll look at the codes of practice of the Crown Prosecution Service.
  • Introduction to Police and Forensic Photography
    You'll be introduced to the use of photographic evidence and other image recording methods used in the documentation of police and forensic evidence. You'll conduct practical work on simulated cases in addition to attending conventional lectures and tutorials using photographic equipment available within our department. You'll be assessed through a written assignment/portfolio.
  • Physical Criminalistics
    The examination of most physical (as opposed to chemical or biological) forensic evidence requires a broad knowledge of the characteristics of a wide range of materials The forensic scientist has no way of predicting what evidential types will be available or significant when an investigation begins and so all criminalists require a basic knowledge of the main evidence types. You'll deal with the physical properties of the commonest types of evidence encountered, but this must be tempered with the professionalism to seek more highly qualified or expert advice when necessary ("if in doubt then do no harm"). The focus will be on the evidence, though some new methodologies (e.g. the scanning electron microscope and x-ray diffraction) will also be introduced.

Year two, core modules

  • Introduction to Analytical Chemistry and Laboratory Quality Management
    This module will give you the knowledge and experience of analysing "real" forensic science samples by using a variety of chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques. You’ll gain an understanding of the underlying quality management principles that are involved in such analyses and look the choice of analytical method, the results generated, and the interpretation of these results by using examples drawn from the forensic sciences.
  • The Forensic Analysis of DNA and Biological Material
    Discover DNA structure, replication and manipulation within a forensic science context, and gain the practical foundations for more specific applications. You’ll cover DNA analysis available to forensic biologists, such as STR profiling. You’ll also examine the statistical interpretation of DNA evidence in a court of law, as well as the types of biological material encountered within forensic science and their subsequent identification and confirmation within a crime scene / forensic laboratory environment. You’ll also look at early forms of forensic individualisation, such as serotyping (e.g. ABO blood grouping) as a prelude to the current DNA methodologies, as well as the patterns formed by body fluids, in particular blood and the resulting information that can be gained from their examination.
  • Spectroscopic Techniques for Forensic Science
    A practising Forensic Scientist’s work involves the determination and quantitative analysis of many substances, such as drugs, explosives, fibres and paint pigments. Many samples for analysis are extremely small, such as a few grains of gun-shot residue or the ink on a forged bank note, and it is important to use techniques which minimalise sample destruction. Here, you’ll learn about the analytical methods of spectroscopic, techniques that examine the way the sample interacts with electromagnetic radiation. These techniques include Raman spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, UV/Vis spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction. You’ll use our specialist equipment in a practical learning environment as you build your knowledge and confidence in these methods of testing.
  • Project Preparation
    We’ll prepare you to carry out a major project in your final year, including skills in selecting a suitable project, using relevant sources of published information, literature surveys, writing a literature review and creating a project plan. During this self-managed module you’ll plan your project and regularly meet with your supervisor, who will give you advise and review your progress. You’ll also gain experience of projects by having the opportunity to listen to the project presentations by final year students.
  • Scene Laboratory Investigation
    Undertake practical work in the recovery of evidence at various scenes and highlight the problems that different types of scenes can bring. You’ll build on knowledge you gained in previous modules in relation to contamination issues and also issues in the chain of continuity of evidence. You’ll build your practical skills with various laboratory instrumentation, which you’ll then use to undertake various analytical experiments on evidence recovered from the scene.

Year two, optional modules

  • Chemical Criminalistics
    This module will give you an introduction to the chemical aspects of criminalistics, involving a number of chemical evidence types including greasy marks and stains, oily materials (shoe polish and lipsticks, for example) and evidence which is left by everyday materials. We'll explore how these materials are analysed and how reports are generated from the data. You'll also get a basic guide to the chemistry of arson accelerants and explosives and their chemical natures, while exploring the methods used for fire debris analysis.
  • Forensic Management
    Forensic science in all its forms is a diverse collection of human knowledge and experience involving both the prosecution and defence, in which the correct use of scientific methods enables the court to reach a reasonable verdict with minimal dependency on subjective witnesses. You’ll learn about the management techniques throughout the forensic process, in particular the crime scene, to ensure that the court can be assured that reliable and accurate examination has been undertaken, at all times maintaining the integrity and accuracy of the system. In addition, you’ll examine how the crime scene manager is responsible for the development of staff and the control of systems, policies and procedures. Learning resources will be available through our library. Assessment will be through coursework and an examination.

Year three, core modules

  • Advanced Forensic Methodologies
    This module will provide you with an appreciation of the diverse evidence available in a crime scene, and how to operate as an ‘expert witness’. You’ll develop your understanding of the nature and types of evidence, how it can be obtained and used. You’ll get experience in providing your own assessment of ‘raw’ evidence, and critique methodologies. You’ll learn the importance of impartiality and experience how evidence can be tested in court. Role playing scenarios will give you a realistic experience of a courtroom situation, preparing you for employment.
  • Undergraduate Major Project
    You’ll create in a substantial piece of individual research and/or product development work, focused on a topic of your choice. You could chose your topic from a variety of sources including research groups, previous/current work experience, your current employer, a suggestion from your tutor or a topic you’re specifically interested in. You’ll identify problems and issues, conduct literature reviews, evaluate information, investigate and adopt suitable development methodologies, determine solutions, develop hardware, software and/or media artefacts as appropriate, process data, critically appraise and present your finding using a variety of media. Regular meetings with your project supervisor will ensure your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.

Year three, optional modules

  • Forensic Pathology and Sexual Offence Investigation
    You’ll develop your knowledge in forensic pathology and sexual offences and look at the relationship between these two areas. Examination of the law in relation to both the rights of victim and confidentiality issues, procedures involved in the forensic examination of the scene, victim and suspect is explored. You’ll examine various cases involving the medico-legal examination of sexual offences and unnatural deaths and be introduced to forensic pathology which covers the role of forensic pathologist in fulfilling the key functions of the medico-legal autopsy, determination of cause of death and estimation of time since death.
  • Forensic Analysis of Drugs and Poisons
    Drug trafficking, use and addiction are responsible for much of the crime which occurs in our society. Forensic Scientists therefore have an important role to play both in the determination of drugs in seizures and the analysis of drugs in body fluids. Our module provides you with a link between these two important disciplines. Many of the techniques used for quantitative analysis of street drugs and toxicological specimens are identical. In both cases the definitive results arise from mass spectrometric determination. There are however essential differences in the actual procedures which you'll learn. Forensic toxicology essentially combines the specialist areas of analytical chemistry and pathology. In general, a forensic toxicologist detects and identifies foreign chemicals (toxins) in the body. In order to accurately interpret toxicological findings it is essential that the toxicologist also has an understanding of the pharmacology of that substance and the pathological effects it has on the body. You’ll learn the processes used in street drug identification and profiling. The materials that can be used and the processes themselves will be discussed and methodologies critically evaluated. The data generated is discussed and the interpretation of such data critically appraised. The presentation of both toxicological and drug profiling date in court will also be reflected upon. Learning resources will include the digital library and suitable websites which will be identified during the module. You’ll be assessed through coursework and an examination.
  • Advanced Fire and Explosive Investigation
    Following on from our Chemical Criminalistics module, this module will give you a more detailed insight into the factors involved in the initiation and propagation of fires, starting with gases, liquid vapors and solids and the various states of combustion, progressing through a full compartment fire. You'll consider various types of initiation of fires and explosions, and discuss calculations and the modeling of fire dynamics. Explosive analysis is explored as well as requirements of specialist facilities for this type of forensic analysis. In addition, the analysis of fire debris is investigated. You’ll get practical experience on the analysis of explosives and ILR and heat transfer. At the end of the module we’ll assess your learning through a laboratory notebook and an examination.


Throughout the course, we’ll use a range of assessment methods to measure your progress. This course has a hands-on approach, so a lot of your assessment will be through practical work. You’ll also do exams, essays, portfolios, role plays and presentations.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Technology is one of the largest of five faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full- or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, to a BSc, MSc, PhD or professional doctorate. 

Whichever course you pick, you’ll gain the theory and practical skills needed to progress with confidence. Join us and you could find yourself learning in the very latest laboratories or on field trips or work placements with well-known and respected companies. You may even have the opportunity to study abroad.

Everything we do in the faculty has a singular purpose: to provide a world-class environment to create, share and advance knowledge in science and technology fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

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Additional study information


This course gives you the opportunity to take a work placement between years 2 and 3. You’ll get experience of seeking and securing a job and working in an industry relating to your course. You’ll also get the practical experience and industry contacts to benefit your studies and enhance your long-term career prospects.

Although they can’t be guaranteed, we can work with you to find a placement, using our contacts with a large number of employers. You’ll have regular contact with one of our course tutors and be supported by a supervisor from your placement company. Together they’ll monitor your performance and give you feedback.

To find out more about placement opportunities, email us at

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2015/16 (per year)


International students, 2015/16 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year)


International students, 2016/17 (per year)


Additional costs

Please note, the estimated additional costs for this course are as follows: lab coat - £15; scientific calculator - £15; Nikon memory card - £8.

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

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Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

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If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
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Funding for UK & EU students

We offer most new undergraduate students funding to support their studies and university life. There’s also finance available for specific groups of students.

Grants and scholarships are available for:

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Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements


Entry requirements are not currently available, please try again later.

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

All tariff points must come from A levels. Points from AS levels cannot be counted towards the total tariff points required for entry to this course.

Entry requirements are for September 2016 entry. Entry requirements for other intakes may differ.

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International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

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English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

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Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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Get more information

UK & EU applicants

01245 68 68 68

Enquire online

International applicants

+44 1245 68 68 68

Enquire online