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Study Forensic Science, why & how to study

Forensic Science is an exciting area of study ‒ there's something undeniably intriguing about searching for the evidence that could solve a criminal case.

Forensic expert collects evidence at the crime scene

CONTENTS

  1. What’s Forensic Science?

  2. What Forensic Science degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Forensic Science degree?

  4. What topics does a Forensic Science degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Forensic Science?

  7. What do Forensic Science graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as a Forensic Science graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Forensic Science

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Forensic Science?

Forensic Science is the application of science to law, carried out through the collection, preservation and analysis of evidence.

The subject area covers a large number of sub-disciplines such as forensic chemistry, forensic accounting and forensic linguistics. There's a lot of variation in course content, as it involves examining many different types of evidence such as physical evidence, numerical evidence and audible evidence.

What Forensic Science degrees can you study?

Forensic Science can be taken as either a single or joint honours undergraduate degree, for example:

  • Archaeology with Forensic Science BSc
  • Chemistry with Forensic Investigation MChem
  • Crime and Security Science BSc
  • Cyber Security & Digital Forensics BSc
  • Forensic Science BSc

Options may include an integrated foundation year or master’s, professional experience, or study abroad.

What do you need to get onto a Forensic Science degree?

Entry requirements for Forensic Science courses depend on the university, ranging from 96–160 UCAS tariff points. Qualifications may include the following:

  • A Levels: AAB–CCE
  • BTECs: DDD–MMP
  • Scottish Highers: AAABB–BBBB (Advanced Highers: AAB–BBC)
  • International Baccalaureate: 36–26
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: A Level (or equivalent) in biology and/or chemistry

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • Computer science, maths, engineering
  • General subjects at A Level may be excluded

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Work experience or shadowing related occupations, such the police, scientific or university labs
  • Experience that evidences interpersonal or team working skills
  • Volunteering as a police cadet or youth volunteer
  • Further reading, online courses or MOOCs, or check out forensic science podcasts
  • STEM science opportunities such as Sutton Trust summer schools, if eligible

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of sciences

What topics does a Forensic Science degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Crime mapping
  • Criminal intelligence and investigation
  • Cybercrime and digital forensics
  • Ethical hacking
  • Evaluation of crime prevention measures
  • Fire analysis
  • Fundamentals of forensic science: from crime scene to court
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Probability, statistics and modelling
  • Terrorism

How will you be assessed?

Assessments are usually carried out by a mixture of the following, and will vary from module to module:

  • Coursework
  • Expert witness testimonies
  • Case studies or incident analyses
  • Essays
  • Lab reports
  • Exams (practical and written)
  • Presentations
  • Dissertation

Why study Forensic Science?

A Forensic Science degree teaches you a series of skills specific to the subject, such as how to collect different types of evidence and how to preserve and analyse them.

Career-specific skills:

  • Intellectual and practical skills in areas that could include entomology, forensic photography, drug analysis, fire investigations and accountancy
  • Scientific processes such as research, reasoning and lab skills
  • Experience of giving evidence in court, and court procedures

Transferable skills:

  • Communication (written and verbal)
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • IT skills
  • Methodical approach to work
  • Presentation
  • Reasoning and evaluation
  • Report writing
  • Team working

Professional accreditation:

  • Degrees may be accredited by the Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences
  • Some may be accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry

What do Forensic Science graduates earn?

Forensic Science graduates can expect an entry-level salary of £18,550–£20,000.

The salary of a forensic scientist could be from £20,000–£45,000. Salaries can vary widely. If you plan to fight cybercrime, a senior digital forensic officer at the Serious Fraud Office could earn £40,000–£46,000, depending on experience.

What jobs can you get as a Forensic Science graduate?

Aside from the obvious career path of becoming a forensic scientist, the scientific and law-oriented nature of the degree means graduates can enter a number of different careers on leaving university.

  • Analytical scientist
  • Crime scene investigator
  • Forensic intelligence analyst
  • Forensic scientist
  • Police officer
  • Research scientist
  • Teacher
  • Toxicologist

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Those with a first degree in a related subject could continue their studies to specialise. As well as biology and chemistry, related subject could include psychology, archaeology, or geography. Examples of taught master’s and research degrees at postgraduate level include:

  • Crime and Forensic Science MSc
  • Forensic Science MSc/MRes/MPhil/PhD
  • Forensic Anthropology MSc
  • Forensic Art & Facial Imaging MSc

Similar subjects to Forensic Science

Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:

Have any questions?

If you have questions about studying Forensic Science, you can email our experts at ask@thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk. We’ll be happy to hear from you!

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