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Forensic Sciences
BSc (Hons)

Go beyond the police tape and learn in cutting-edge facilities with this fascinating and highly-practical Forensic Sciences degree

Course detail

Start Date

September

Duration

4 years (full-time)

Degree Classification

BSc (Hons)

UCAS Code

F410

Why Study Forensic Sciences?

Go beyond the police tape with this fascinating and highly-practical Forensic Sciences degree. Learn the techniques that underpin the recognition, identification, recovery, analysis and evaluation of information which can be used as evidence in a court of law.

Are you literate, numerate and analytical? Do you like to solve problems for fun? Are you naturally inquisitive with a passion for chemistry and biology? Put these traits to work during a Forensic Sciences degree that equips you with the knowledge required to help support the legal process.

It’s a hands-on degree, which allows you to analyse a variety of scenes in our purpose-built facilities, and learn the following physical and chemical analysis techniques in our state-of-the-art laboratories:

  • Crime scene investigation
  • Body fluid analysis
  • DNA profiling
  • Forensic chromatography and spectroscopy
  • Fingerprinting
  • Substances of abuse

This highly vocational programme is broken down into three main study areas – forensic science, chemistry and biology – and dovetails modules from the Division of Law to prepare you for a variety of workplace situations.

Register Interest

An undergraduate  qualification can help develop you into a confident, independent thinker who's ready to face the challenges of the modern world. 

Information and advice is key to making sure you make the right decision for you. Thankfully, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about stepping into the world of undergraduate study.

Register your interest and find out the fantastic options available to you.

 

Register Interest

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Your Journey Starts Here

Keen to learn more about body fluid investigation, crime scene investigation, and fingerprint enhancement, as well as a number of different techniques relevant for police investigation and the criminal justice system? Forensic Sciences is the programme for you.

Entry Requirements

Please note:  All applicants must have passes in English and Maths in any of the following - National 5 grade C or GCSE grade C/4. Lifeskill Maths is not accepted in lieu of Maths.

Please visit our Entry from College pages for suitable College courses.

Qualification Type Grade Requirements Essential Subjects
Higher BBBB To include Chemistry at Higher and National 5 Biology at C
A-Level CCC To include Chemistry at A Level and GCSE Biology or Combined Science or Applied Science at C/4 or better
Irish Highers H3H3H3H3 To include Chemistry at Higher Level and Biology or Ordinary Level at C or better
International Baccalaureate 28 Points Chemistry and Biology at Middle Year at 4 or equivalent
BTEC Extended Diploma MMM Applied Science (all pathways)
AHEAD - Successful completion of the relevant stream of our AHEAD programme
SWAP BBB Access to: Life Sciences, Health & Life Sciences, Science, Biological Sciences, Biological & Biomedical Sciences
Qualification Type Grade Requirements Essential Subjects
Advanced Higher BBB To include Chemistry and Biology or Human Biology
A-Level BBB To include Chemistry and Biology or Human Biology
BTEC Extended Diploma DDD Applied Science
HNC/HND - Our Entry from College pages list approved HNC/HND courses

Not sure if you're eligible for entry?

If you have the potential and motivation to study at university, regardless of your background or personal circumstances, we welcome your application.

We understand some people have faced extra challenges before applying to university, which is why we consider the background in which your academic grades have been achieved when making an offer.

If you expect to receive passes in three Scottish Highers (grades A-C) and have either ...

  • been in care
  • participated in a targeted aspiration-raising programme such as LIFT OFF, LEAPS, FOCUS West, or Aspire North
  • no family background of going to university
  • attended a school or lived in an area where not many people go to university

... we encourage you to submit an application.

Information for International Applicants

Please provide certified proof of your English language level. Our accredited International English Foundation Course can help. To further enhance your academic English, Intensive English for Academic Purposes can help you achieve your potential.

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English Language Requirements

Explore English language requirements for entry to Abertay University.

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English Language Courses

Discover the range of English language courses on offer at Abertay University.

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Visa Information

Learn more about visa requirements for studying at Abertay University.

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About Your Modules

The module information shown here describes the modules our students are taking this year. The modules do change over time to keep our programmes up-to-date and relevant. This means the exact modules you take could be different. If you receive an offer to study with us, you will receive a Programme Information document that sets out exactly which modules you can expect to take as part of your Abertay University degree programme.

Please note: As well as Key Modules outlined below, you may also be required to choose Elective Modules. 

Key Modules (2017/18)

Biology 1: Biology Principles and Practice (LSC101)

A broad introduction to the theory and practice of biology. Module content includes: the principles of cell biology; an overview of the major forms of life and their taxonomic relationships; introductory microbiology; basic laboratory techniques; health and safety in the laboratory; data handling and numeracy skills for laboratory work.

Foundations of Chemistry 1 (FOR101)

An introduction to basic chemical concepts and an overview of the application of chemistry to a wide range of science-based programmes. Module content includes: introductory math for scientists; the nature of matter; describing chemical substances and their interactions; simple organic molecules.

Introduction to Forensic Science, Practice and Techniques (FOR103)

A broad overview of the concepts of scientific literacy skills, some of the main principles, practices and techniques used in forensic science and the roles of forensic scientists. Includes basic forensic practical skills involved in investigation, searching and examination of crime scenes.

Human Physiology (LSC102)

Provides students with fundamental knowledge of the main physiological processes necessary for life and for maintaining whole body homeostasis. Module content includes: cardiovascular physiology; respiratory physiology; reproductive physiology; neuro and sensory physiology; skeletomuscular system.

Foundations of Chemistry 2 (FOR102)

Develops knowledge of chemical properties relating to chemical and biological systems such as electrochemical reactions and thermodynamics. Module content includes: organic and biochemistry; inorganic chemistry; physical chemistry.

Cell Biology & Immunology (LSC202)

Provides students with a holistic understanding of how cells in the body function to defend against injury and disease. Module content includes: immune system; antibodies as molecular probes; cell biology.

Advanced Chemical Processes (FOR201)

This module further develops the knowledge of the basic concepts of kinetics, energetics, stereochemistry, organic functional groups, inorganic chemistry and biological chemistry to provide a deeper understanding of their application to forensic and biological chemistry.

Criminal Law and Evidence (LAW253)

This module deepens and broadens the knowledge and understanding of the principles of criminal law and provides students with an introduction to the concepts of the law of evidence in Scotland. Module content includes: crimes; principles of criminal liability; basic concepts of evidence and requirements for proof; types of evidence and corroboration; competence and compellability of witnesses; opinion and expert evidence.

Molecular Biology and Genetics (LSC201)

An introduction to the fundamental concepts in both medical and forensic genetics. Module content includes: genes and gene expression; human genomics and bioinformatic analysis; genetic engineering and other analytical techniques.

Investigative Analytical Science (FOR212)

Provides students with an understanding of basic analytical techniques, the theory behind these techniques and how to relate them to forensic and biomedical applications.

Special Topics in Forensic Biology (FOR301)

Provides an understanding of examination strategies for the range of body fluids encountered in forensic biology case work and the scientific interpretation of blood stain patterns. Also provides an awareness of the contribution of specific biological sciences to specialised forensic science studies.

Forensic Chromatography and Spectroscopy (FOR303)

Provides students with a deeper understanding of the theoretical basis for chromatography and the ability to use spectroscopic techniques to identify organic compounds. Module content includes: chromatography; spectroscopy; problem solving; laboratory techniques.

Forensic Material Investigation (FOR305)

An examination of the investigation, evaluation and interpretation of evidence from fires and explosions. This module also examines causes of fire, thermodynamics of combustion, sample collection and packaging, chemical tests and analytical techniques for fire debris analysis. It explores the nature of explosives and explosion, blast wave propagation, damage causes and the forensic evidence as well as firearms evidence and metallurgical failures. It considers the approaches from the crime scene to court presentation.

Forensic Trace Evidence (FOR304)

Provides an enhanced understanding of the evidential value of common trace evidence materials in criminal investigations and considers the main trace evidence materials of glass, paint and fibres from the initial case assessment and lab analysis through to evaluation and presentation of trace evidence in court.

Forensic Pharmacology and Toxicology (FOR310)

Designed to provide a detailed appreciation of the effects of toxins and drugs on human systems and the approaches to their detection and quantification in accidental and deliberate poisonings. The syllabus is based around mammalian toxicology with human examples and is intended for students studying Forensic and Environmental Sciences.

Scene Examination and Management (FOR312)

An exploration of some of the advanced principles and techniques used in Forensic Science as well as the role of Forensic Scientists. Includes higher level forensic practical skills involved in the investigation, searching and examination of crime scenes and evidence types.

Forensic Applications of DNA (FOR401)

An overview of the various techniques and research used in a forensic DNA laboratory from sample receipt, extraction and replication to analysis and interpretation. Students use their own samples to work their way through DNA analysis.

Substances of Abuse (FOR402)

Provides an understanding of the chemistry and pharmacology of commonly abused substances. It explores the theoretical and practical aspects of analytical strategies, the interpretation of results within current legislation and considers aspects relating to production, drug profiling and intelligence for law enforcement agencies as well as the health risks and physiological response of selected substances.

Project Research Methods (FOR410)

Provides students with the theoretical underpinning skills required to pursue a detailed investigation of a selected research topic under the guidance of a member of staff. Students will critically evaluate knowledge within a specified field; produce documentation of sufficient standard to satisfy university regulatory protocols with regards to risk assessment and ethical approval; prepare a presentation summary of planned work.

Interpretation & Presentation of Evidence (FOR403)

This module takes an integrative and holistic approach to the application of forensic science to complex cases. Module content includes: contemporary practice – operating environment , opinion evidence, the role of communication; practical case study.

Honours Project (4) (FOR411)

Provides students with the ability to utilise and develop further their forensic science and transferable skills in planning, conducting, reporting and presenting an extensive piece of research work.

How the Course Works

 

Learning and Assessment 

You’ll learn via traditional lectures and tutorials, student-led learning, interactive class sessions, practical work and a substantial element of laboratory work. We encourage you to be self-motivated and to study independently, which means you will take responsibility for your own learning.

Assessment is by a variety of methods, enabling you to demonstrate progress in different ways.

Coursework typically includes lab reports, essays and oral presentations.

Formal exams typically include questions that require either short answers or essays, coupled with problem-solving of forensic-related challenges.

In your final dissertation, you’re individually supported by an experienced research-active member of staff.

Year 1 is approximately 50% exam and 50% coursework.

Year 4 is approximately 80% exam in some instances. This does not include your final year project, which is coursework based.

For more information on the course content, please download the Programme Information - BSc (Honours) Forensic Sciences

Accreditation 

Our Forensic Sciences degree is professionally accredited and commended by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences (CSoFS), which means you’re eligible to apply for associate membership upon graduating. This programme is taught by practitioners who’ve come directly from the industry, as well as forensic researchers at the cutting edge of their fields. 

Programme Fees for 2018

Scottish & EU students

£1,820

Fees shown are payable annually and may be subject to increase each year.

Please see our Undergraduate Fees and Funding page for further details. 

Additional Costs

Students must purchase a laboratory coat (cost is around £15) and a laboratory notebook.

English, Welsh & Northern Irish Students

£9,250

Fees shown are payable annually and may be subject to increase each year.

Please see our Undergraduate Fees and Funding page for further details. 

Additional Costs

Students must purchase a laboratory coat (cost is around £15) and a laboratory notebook.

International Students

£13,800

Fees shown are payable annually and may be subject to increase each year.

Please see our Undergraduate Fees and Funding page for further details. 

Additional Costs

Students must purchase a laboratory coat (cost is around £15) and a laboratory notebook.

Scholarships

Rest of UK Abertay Scholarship - £2,300 per year for four years

This scholarship is intended to support students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland to study at Abertay. Scholarship is paid directly into your bank account in two instalments each year to support you with living and travel costs. No application necessary.

International Abertay Scholarship - £2,300 per year for four years

This scholarship is intended to support students from international countries (outside of the EU) to study at Abertay. Scholarship is paid directly into your bank account in two instalments each year to support you with living and travel costs. No application necessary.

In addition, we offer a range of corporate/philanthropic scholarships shown below, which are available to all students to support your studies with us. 

The Lothian Family

A £5,000 award for undergraduate students with financial or social difficulties which may prevent them from studying at Abertay.

The Robert Reid Bursary

Two £500 awards for students who have overcome challenges to attend university.

Careers

Graduates can go into careers such as forensic scientists, either as part of the civil service or the private sector, and related areas such as scenes of crime investigation or police officer. A number of our graduates have successfully obtained these highly competitive jobs.

A hand can be seen using a cotton swab to take a sample from a blood stained knife

Choose Your Path

The course also provides you with the skills and abilities to pursue alternative, interesting and fulfilling career paths. For example:

  • Developing diagnostics in the biotechnology industries
  • Quality assurance
  • Problem solving in public utilities
  • Developing protocols and procedures in the armed forces or government agencies

You may also wish to pursue a career in teaching – many of our graduates have trained as science teachers. Alternatively, you may want to undertake higher research at MSc/PhD level.

The transferable skills gained during this degree can also be used in a range of other careers, such as management/business, law, accountancy and disciplines unrelated to science.

 

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Industry Links

We enjoy excellent relationships with a number of forensic laboratories.

Throughout the programme, you’ll hear guest lectures from representatives of organisations like the Scottish Police Authority, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), James Hutton Institute, and Forensic Access.

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Unistats

Unistats collates comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Unistats dataset (formerly the Key Information Set (KIS)).

Programme Leader - Forensic Sciences

Mr Darren Phillips

Mr Darren Phillips

School of Science, Engineering and Technology | Lecturer

View profile

Forensic Sciences Graduates

Meet Mel Smith and Simon Patterson, Forensic Sciences graduates from Abertay, who have gone on to enjoy successful careers in very different industries.

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Mel Smith

Meet Mel Smith, a Forensics graduate from Abertay, and employee at the Marrow Donor Programme in Singapore.

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Simon Patterson

Meet Simon Patterson, a Forensic Sciences graduate from Abertay, and sports reporter for the world's largest motorcycling magazine.

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Abertay is conveniently located on a city centre campus, with all of its buildings within a quarter of a mile of each other. Shops, recreational facilities and the main bus and train stations are a short walk away.

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We're proud of our students and graduates, and we believe there's no better place to study if you're looking for a degree that helps you stand out as an exceptional candidate in an increasingly competitive job market.

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An Open Day is your chance to get an up close experience of the University and the city. You’ll come away with all the information you need about us and the courses you’re interested in. 

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