Forensic Science with Foundation Year BSc (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (4 years)


September 2018

Intermediate awards: CertHE, DipHE


If you’re fascinated by forensic science but don’t meet the entry requirements for our 3 year BSc (Hons) Forensic Science course, our extended four year course is for you. It is accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences and provides graduates with the skills to follow a range of careers in forensic science and other analytical science related fields.

Full description


Graduating this course prepares you for a range of careers in the forensic sector including crime scene investigation and laboratory analysis. In addition, the skills and knowledge you acquire are transferrable to a wide range of scientific and analytical-based jobs. Furthermore, you will be equipped to follow a career in other areas such as research, teaching, business, the law or further education.

Recent Anglia Ruskin University graduates with BSc (Hons) Forensic Science have successfully secured jobs directly related to their degrees in the local police force and in companies such as LGC, Chemtest, Treatt and Cellmark.

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

  • Chemical Principles
    This module provides an elementary introduction to chemical science for those with little or no prior experience of the subject. The study of materials and the undergoing chemical changes will be discussed. These principles will then be developed further by exploring the periodic table, chemical equations, calculating concentrations, quantitative chemical analysis such as colorimetry, chemical equilibria and organic chemistry. The practical component of the course will allow you to gain practice in some basic laboratory techniques based on the concepts covered in the lectures. In addition, tutorials will be held for students to practice questions further that arise from the relevant lectures. Laboratory experience and exposure will also equip students with required transferable skills. The focus will also be on good laboratory practice and sustainable approaches to chemistry.
  • Biomolecules
    In this module you will focus on water and carbon and their central importance to biology. The composition, structure and function of the four groups of macromolecules - proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids and lipids - will be studied. A specific focus will be the mechanism of action of enzymes and factors such as pH and temperature that affect their function. The lectures will be complemented by practicals that build on the lecture material and teach a range of laboratory skills. The module will also focus on developing the academic skills required to be successful in higher education, particularly independent study, understanding the different forms of scientific writing (for example, practical reports and essays). Other skills taught will include finding reliable sources of information, citation and referencing and avoiding poor academic practice and plagiarism.
  • Biology of Cells
    In this module practical sessions on cellular respiration, osmosis and cell diversity will support your lectures. You will study the structure and function of cellular organelles, membranes and transport systems, in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In addition, cell metabolism - the biochemical processes undertaken in living organisms - is a key component of this module. You will also cover Cellular respiration of glucose and the role of mitochondria. The fundamental principle of biology, the ability to renew (cells) and reproduce, both sexually and asexually and the mechanisms of cell division, including mitosis and meiosis, will be also be covered.
  • Mathematics for Science
    Foundation Maths for Science is a course that ensures students on the extended programmes for degrees in the departments of Life Sciences, Biomedical and Forensic Sciences, and Vision and Hearing Sciences have the necessary basic mathematical skills required for entry to level 4. By the end of this module, students will be able to carry out the basic mathematical manipulations and understand the relevant key concepts required in order to progress to their chosen degree course. Each mathematical concept is introduced by a lecture, in which examples of how to use and apply the concept are demonstrated. Students practise problems in a tutorial for each topic, using worksheets given out in advance of the sessions. The worksheets include problems applied to the various degree pathways to which the students will progress, to indicate the importance and applicability of mathematics to their future degrees. The subjects covered are a range of arithmetic skills, algebra, areas and volumes, trigonometry and basic statistics. In addition, there are sessions using Excel for manipulation of simple data sets using formulae and graphical presentation of the results. Students will be expected to apply the skills learnt in graphically presenting data to the other modules they are studying where applicable.
  • Physical Principles
    This module provides an introduction to the principles and laws of physics which underpin all life sciences. No prior knowledge of physics is assumed, and the focus will be on those aspects which are specific to the requirements of students in their future pathways. The module will be taught with a mixture of lectures, workshops, tutorials and laboratory practicals. The module will encompass aspects such as how organisms move in relation to their environment, how they perceive their environment in terms of light and sound, how the physics of fluids and gasses affect the anatomy and physiology of organisms, how electricity is used to allow communication, and finally how radioactivity impacts on organisms, and the applications of physics in modern medicine The practical component of this module will allow the students to develop an understanding of how the theory they are taught in lectures is applied in practical situations. This module will allow the students to progress to their next level of study with a thorough grounding in aspects that are often considered to be challenging, but when understood, allow the students to appreciate fully how organisms interact with their environment, as determined by the fundamental laws of physics and chemistry.
  • Physiology
    Physiology is the science of body function and is related to the structure, or anatomy, or the organism. In this module the main organ and regulatory systems that work to enable the body to function and respond to change, whilst maintaining a constant internal environment, will be studied. Although this module will focus mainly on the human body as an example of a much studied organism, reference to other organisms will be made to illustrate particular principles or to contrast different systems and mechanisms. Laboratory-based practicals and workshops will be used to build on the knowledge gained from the lectures. The practical sessions will enable the development of a range of laboratory-based skills, which will include the recording of observational findings as well as experimental results.
  • Case Studies in Forensic and Investigative Sciences
    This module will enable you to gain an understanding in relation to how a criminal case is dealt with, starting with the investigation of the crime scene right through the process to the appearance of a defendant at court. It will look at the range of issues that can affect the investigation of a crime and will make reference to findings in relation to specific cases. You will examine the use of forensic evidence and how this can be used in an investigation. You will also explore the investigative process as a whole, looking at the different personnel involved. In reviewing and exploring examples of criminal investigations from the past, you will be able to develop an understanding of the criminal justice system from a realistic perspective, which will embed the principles in an effective manner.
  • Introduction to Forensic and Investigative Sciences
    This module is designed to provide you with the fundamental knowledge of how evidential items recovered from crime scenes contribute to the investigative process. The processes involved in appropriate and lawful recovery, as well as independent analysis, will be covered as well as the decision-making processes around forming evidential conclusions. In this way, you will learn how evidence can be used to formulate hypotheses for further testing and ultimately for the provision of expert testimony in the courtroom. You will explore different aspects of the forensic and investigative sciences which will introduce you to the practices and requirements of criminal justice system.

Year two, core modules

  • Introduction to Forensic Methodologies
    In this module you'll cover key forensic 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
    In this module you’ll develop an understanding of the basic biological and chemical principles that underpin forensic science. The knowledge gained will aid your comprehension of the more advanced scientific concepts encountered in the subsequent years of the degree. Topics covered include human physiology, biochemistry, DNA and RNA, atomic structure, periodicity, chemical equations and stoichiometry. The module includes a practical element where students gain competence and confidence in performing basic laboratory techniques.
  • UK Law and Legal Systems
    In this module you’ll explore the different legal systems within the United Kingdom and the different requirements of these systems. You’ll look at the development of law in the English, Scottish and Northern Ireland legal systems and the investigation of crime with each of these systems. You’ll closely examine the powers and laws of evidence relevant to the forensic practitioner. In addition, you’ll be introduced to the codes of practice of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the role of the forensic scientist and expert witness in legal proceedings
  • 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. In this module you’ll learn about the physical properties of different types of forensic evidence commonly encountered at crime scenes. The focus will be on the evidence, though some information about the analytical techniques used to examine the evidence will be introduced.
  • Introduction to Police and Forensic Photography
    In this module 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.
  • Physical and Quantitative Chemistry for Forensic Scientists
    This module contextualises the fundamental concepts of basic chemical analysis and physical chemistry, with examples drawn from and throughout forensic science. The main areas covered include: chemical equilibria (extraction and clean-up of forensic science samples), thermodynamic, thermochemistry (combustion and fire science) quantification (analysis of forensic science samples) 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. This module will also introduce basic chemical analysis and emphasis is placed on the acquisition of good laboratory practice and basic calculations applicable to quantitative analytical techniques.

Year three, core modules

  • Forensic Spectroscopy Techniques
    Much of the routine work of the practising forensic scientist involves the identification of trace substances including drugs, explosives, fibres, paint pigments and gunshot residue. For evidential reasons, it is advantageous to use non-destructive techniques or techniques which minimise sample destruction. In many instances, the analytical methods of choice are spectroscopic in character, that is, techniques that examine the way the sample interacts with electromagnetic radiation. Such techniques include Raman spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction. In this module you’ll gain knowledge on the spectroscopic techniques commonly used to analyse forensic evidence, the results that are generated and their interpretation.
  • Scene and Laboratory Investigation
    In this module you’ll 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 the 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 by using specialist forensic equipment on evidence recovered from the scene.
  • Forensic Analytical Chemistry
    This module will give you the knowledge and experience of analysing "real" forensic science samples by using a variety of chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques and instrumentation. The module also introduces method development and validation and will give you an understanding of the underlying quality management principles, accreditation and standards that are involved in such chemical analysis within forensic science. You'll also look at the choice of analytical method and the fundamentals behind the techniques, the results generated, and the interpretation of these results. In addition, you’ll gain an understanding of quantitative error and statistical analysis by using examples drawn from the forensic sciences.
  • The Forensic Analysis of DNA
    This module focuses on the application of biology and genetics to the field of forensics and the use of these in criminal investigation. Students cover both the biological principles and the practical applications surrounding the different stages involved in the processing of evidence. The lectures cover the foundations of molecular genetics as well as the current DNA analytical methods used to generate DNA profiles i.e. the use of STRs and DNA 17, together with the use of other markers such as mtDNA, Y-STRs and SNPs in different case scenarios. Other topics related to the field will be covered including the latest technology, markers, and procedures used for DNA analysis. Students also gain practical experience of the DNA workflow and statistical interpretation of DNA profiles.
  • Project Preparation
    This module will prepare you to carry out a major project in your final year. This will involve initially researching and selecting a suitable project. You’ll acquire skills such as applying for ethical approval, accessing relevant sources of published information, conducting literature surveys, writing a literature review, formulating risk assessments and creating a project proposal. During this self-managed module you’ll plan your project and regularly meet with your supervisor, who will give you advice and review your progress.
  • Chemical Criminalistics
    This module provides an introduction to the chemical aspects of criminalistics. You’ll cover a number of chemical evidence types including greasy marks and stains, oily materials such as shoe polish and lipsticks and other chemical evidence that is left by everyday materials. You’ll explore how these materials are analysed and how reports are generated from the data. You’ll also be introduced to the chemistry of arson accelerants and explosives, in addition to the methods used for fire debris analysis.

Year four, core modules

  • Forensic Anthropology
    This module develops the student’s knowledge in regards to the role of the forensic anthropologist and the application of forensic anthropology to criminal investigations. The module covers search, recovery and identification of human remains, considering the role of the anthropologist both at the crime scene and the mortuary. The module teaches how the anthropologist works with other experts within the investigative framework and covers both domestic and international applications; from single fatality investigations through to the use of anthropology during mass fatality incidents. Methods of archaeology and osteology and their application to forensic contexts will be taught with the emphasis on basic principles and the critical application of techniques and their selection. A variety of resources will be available including ARU’s collection of human remains and anthropological teaching aids. Case studies and peer reviewed articles will be discussed and a variety of additional resources are available through the digital library.
  • Forensic Pathology
    Forensic Pathology is a discipline of pathology concerned with the investigation of deaths where there are medico-legal implications, for example, suspected homicide and other complex medico-legal cases. Forensic pathologists are medically qualified doctors who perform autopsies on sudden, unexpected and suspicious deaths. The forensic investigation of death is a multi-disciplinary approach that involves collaboration between pathologists, crime scene investigators, forensic scientists and other experts in the forensic field. This module develops the knowledge of the students in relation to the subject of forensic pathology, which contributes to the investigation of suspicious death and identification of the deceased. You’ll cover the role of forensic pathology in fulfilling the key functions of the medico-legal autopsy determination of cause of death, post-mortem changes after death, estimate of time since death, traumatic causes of death and asphyxias. Various case studies and peer-reviewed articles relating to the subject area will also be discussed in the lecture/seminar sessions.
  • Advanced Fire and Explosion Investigations
    This module will give you a more detailed insight into the factors involved in the initiation, propagation of fires and the various states of combustion, progressing through to a full compartment fire. This knowledge is then contextualised within a fire scene and how they are investigated, including, as an example electrical faults. You’ll consider various types of initiation of fires and explosions, and discuss and use calculations used in fire modelling to assess heat transfer (fire progression) and vapour/air mix explosions. Types of explosives and explosive analysis is explored as well as requirements of specialist facilities and procedures for this type of forensic analysis and the specialist instrumentation used. In addition, the analysis of fire debris is investigated and students will use an accepted standard method to identify ignitable liquid traces present on a fire debris sample.
  • 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.
  • The Forensic Analysis of Drugs and Poisons
    Crimes associated with the trafficking, abuse and addiction of drugs are major issues affecting society today. Forensic scientists therefore have an important role to play in terms of determining the type of drug present in a seized consignment (drug profiling) and the analysis of drugs in body fluids (forensic toxicology). This 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 fundamental differences in the actual procedures involved in the two disciplines. 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. As part of this module you’ll also learn about the processes used in drug identification and profiling. The materials that can be used and the processes themselves will be discussed and the methodologies critically evaluated. The data generated will be discussed and the interpretation of such data critically appraised. The presentation of both toxicological and drug profiling data in court will also be reflected upon.
  • Undergraduate Major Project
    In this module you’ll be creating a substantial piece of individual research focused on a topic of your choice. You could choose your topic from a variety of sources including research groups, previous/current work experience and/ or suggestion from your tutor. You’ll identify problems and issues, conduct literature review, process data, critically appraise and present your findings. Regular meetings with your project supervisor will ensure your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.


Throughout the course, we will use a range of assessment methods to measure your progress and ensure you are developing the knowledge and skills required. This course has a hands-on approach and most of the modules you take will have a practical element, so you will be able to develop your crime scene and laboratory skills. Your written, verbal, numerical and problem solving skills will be assessed through examinations, class-tests, laboratory reports, portfolios, role play, presentations and a final year research project in a forensic area of your choice.

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

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2018/19 (per year)


International students, 2018/19 (per year)


Additional costs

Memory card - £8

Fine-tipped permanent marker pens - £3

Cost of printing dissertation/individual project

Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

How do I pay my fees?

You can pay your fees in the following ways.

Tuition fee loan

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

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

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

From September 2018, EU students starting an undergraduate degree with us can access an £800 bursary.

Meanwhile, our £400 Books Plus scheme helps with the costs of study. There's no need to apply for this: if you're eligible you can simply collect a Books Plus card when you start your course.

Entry requirements

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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.

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