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Guide to studying Forensic Science

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. Why study Forensic Science?

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

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?
  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

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.

Why study Forensic Science?

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

Given the subject's focus on the law, you're also likely to gain experience in giving evidence in court. This could prove very useful if you choose to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Read our six reasons to study Forensic Science for more information on why you might choose this subject area.

Forensic scientist extracts traces of blood in a swab for analysis

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 upon leaving university.

Examples of these include in research, medical sales, the police force, biological testing and teaching.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Forensic Science have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Forensic Science students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need? 

Generally speaking, applicants to Forensic Science courses will need to have studied Biology and/or Chemistry at A Level (or equivalent).

Always check the specific criteria for any course that interests you. Grades and other requirements vary from institution to institution.

What degrees can you study?

Forensic Science can be taken as either a single or joint honours degree. Single honours will tend to be a BSc, whereas the degree type awarded on a combined honours course will vary depending on the subject taken in conjunction with Forensic Science. A degree in Archaeology with Forensic Science, for example, will award a BA, whereas Forensic Science and Applied Biology would earn you a BSc.

How will you be assessed?

You'll be assessed in a variety of different ways, including practical and written exams, coursework, presentations, incident analyses and expert witness testimonies.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

If you wish to study Forensic Science beyond undergraduate level you'll be able to focus on a more specific area of the subject. Possible specialities include cybercrime, forensic genetics and forensic mental health.

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